Recipe: How to Make Traditional Christmas Almond Paste
This traditional almond paste recipe will give your Christmas cake, whether bought or home-made, the foundation for Royal Icing.
Almond Paste is known in many cultures world-wide, including the USA where it is an ingredient in bear claw pastry, a favourite breakfast dish.
If you have ever succumbed to the delights of Danish pastries, then you will be aware of the irresistible almond filling! The French use it in croissants and the Turks sell it as a sweetmeat.
Our variation on the Almond Paste theme will be to cover a traditional Christmas cake, home made or bought, to give it that traditional feel and in readiness for your own home-made (or bought) Royal Icing.
Traditional Almond Paste
This traditional Almond Paste recipe makes enough to cover the top and sides of a 20 cm/8 inch diameter round cake or an 18 cm/7 inch square cake.
- 325 g/12 oz ground almonds
- 175 g/6 oz sieved icing sugar
- 175 g/6 oz caster sugar
- 1 large egg and 1 egg-white
- Juice of half a lemon
- A few drops of ratafia essence (Ratafia essence is made from bitter almonds or the kernels of peaches or apricots. If you can't get this ingredient, use almond essence, increasing the drops)
- A few drops of vanilla flavouring
- 1 teaspoon orange flower water (available from some chemists, health-food stores and on-line)
- 2 teaspoons brandy, rum or sherry
- Mix ground almonds and sugars together
- Beat whole egg and add lemon juice, ratafia, flavourings, orange flower water and brandy, rum or sherry.
- Using a wooden spoon, mix liquid carefully into almond and sugar. Don’t add it all at once as if the mixture becomes too soft it will be hard to roll out. Work it into a firm, manageable paste, kneading a little with your hands.
- Brush top and sides of cake with a little of the beaten egg-white. This provides a tacky surface helping the paste stick to the cake.
- Dredge a board with sifted icing sugar. Have more icing sugar ready for the rolling pin.
- Take off two-thirds of the almond paste for the sides of the cake.
- Measure the circumference of your cake – a piece of string will do – and measure the height of the sides. This will give a long, narrow rectangle.
- Roll out the largest piece of paste just a bit longer than this measurement. It will fit round the sides of the cake nicely. Press the join lightly with the rolling pin.
- For the top of the cake, shape the remaining piece of paste into a round or a square and roll it out a bit larger than the top of the cake. Using the piece of string, check the size of the paste against the size of the cake top. Do not lift paste on to the cake.
- Turn cake upside-down on to the paste and trim neatly. Turn cake right side up again with paste in position. This way you get a nice flat surface to the paste.
- Brush almond paste all over with egg-white and leave to dry.
Once dry, your cake is ready for icing the traditional way, with Royal Icing.
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