Covering a Fruit Cake with Marzipan

Can be fiddly when first tried, but any imperfections will be covered with icing.

What you will need:

Take the cake board and place the cake upside down on it. (Whether to place the cake upside down is a matter of choice) but I find it easier to get a perfect finish when starting with a completely flat surface as nothing spoils a finished cake more than the decorations sitting at ‘jaunty’ angles because the surface is not level.

Take the marzipan and knead it on an icing sugar dusted surface. The marzipan should be very soft and not crack at the edges as you manipulate it.

A tip should the marzipan be particularly cold and hard is to pop it in the microwave for 30 seconds. This is just enough to soften it slightly, any longer and it will dry out. I always use white marzipan. It is softer, more natural and will not show through white icing. Unfortunately it is more expensive, but it is worth the extra money, in texture, flavour and useability.

If the cake has risen slightly and it usually is slightly higher in the middle than the sides, then simply fill in the space at the bottom with a ‘sausage’ of marzipan. This has the added advantage of ensuring the cake is completely sealed.

As you place the ‘sausage’, gently push it into the space with your fingers. When you have gone round the cake, use a round bladed knife to flatten the marzipan and cut off the excess.

Next, cover the entire cake and marzipan ‘sausage’ with a thin layer of jam.

When this is done, put the cake to one side and dust the working surface with icing sugar. Take the marzipan and knead it until soft and smooth.

Roll out evenly. (The cake is covered in one piece to avoid any joins that could allow discolouration of the finished cake through seepage from the cake.) A good check to see that the marzipan is large enough, is to take the cake on its board and hold it over the rolled out marzipan. The marzipan sheet should look approx 2″ larger than the cake board.

When it is large enough, carefully lift the marzipan and place it over the prepared cake and smooth the top working from the centre to the edges using the smoother or flat of the hand. Next smooth down the sides, trying not to create any ‘thick’ patches on the corners.


When the marzipan is smooth with no air bubbles, cut off the excess with a round bladed knife.

Finally rub the flat of the hand over the surface of the cake to create a smooth almost ‘glossy’ finish.

Leave the cake to dry for 3 days. I find it best to put it in a cardboard cake box with the lid sat at an angle.


  1. @ Janice. Ideally I would leave the cake at least four days before marzipan and icing so it has chance to mature a little. However you can start whenever you want.

  2. Hello, I have just made your 12″ rich fruit cake, thank you for sharing this recipe, I am unsure how far in advance i can marzipan and ice this cake(fondant icing) as I would rather be doing it sooner rather than later, the cake is needed in two weeks , I would be so grateful for your advice
    Jan x

  3. I find that a lot of people do not like marzipan, but before you dismiss it totally, do try the natural (white) marzipan. This has a subtle taste and is nowhere near as sweet as the yellow marzipan traditionally available. However, there are a couple of alternatives. The reason for using marzipan is to seal the cake and prevent brown marks showing through and also to give a smooth surface on which to ice. If you are using fondant icing, you could cover the cake in two layers of fondant (use the blocks of fondant ‘Regal Ice or Supercook’ and not the ready to roll). The other alternative which works very well on both fruit and sponge cakes is to cover with a layer of melted white chocolate. The chocolate seals the cake and gives a good surface to cover with either fondant or Royal Icing. Use white chocolate drops or blocks specifically for cooking as confectionery white chocolate does not melt very well and becomes dry and lumpy.

  4. I’ve made a fruitcake for my Fathers birthday (party next weekend), I need to decorate it but no one really likes marzipan. Do you need to use marzipan on a fruitcake before icing it? Are there any alternatives that you have had some success with?

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