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When decorating with marzipan, the dough should be protected from air and moisture until ready to use. Once this dough-like icing has been placed onto the cake or pastry, it begins to dry and harden. All shaping, coloring, and glazing should be completed prior to decorating the final surface with this type of paste.
This cake decorating frosting can be made at home or purchased from a local grocery store already prepared. It is typically sold in pre-made tubes, which can be shaped or tinted with color according to the needs of the chef. Marzipan can be mixed by hand using finely ground almonds, sugar, and egg whites or water. It may be mixed into a dough-like paste, or cooked over a hot stove top until it resembles play dough.
Once the marzipan has been prepared or purchased, it is essential to keep it in air tight containers until it is ready to be used. This pastry item tends to begin drying once it has been exposed to air, and can become too brittle for use if it comes in contact with too much moisture. To protect homemade marzipan, chefs can divide their dough into fist sized balls and store them in air tight plastic bags in the refrigerator. Similar techniques can be used for store bought marzipan as well, which allow chefs to separate the large quantities they must buy into more usable sizes.
Decorating with marzipan over a cake can be similar to decorating with traditional icing. A barrier should first be created between the decorative marzipan shapes and the cake, which typically contains more moisture than the small decorations can withstand. Glaze may be used as a barrier over pound cakes, angel food cakes, and bundt cakes. Icing which uses powdered sugar as a base may be used to frost single and multi-layer cakes.
A layer of marzipan can then be placed over this protective coating. This layer should only be for covering the surface of the cake, and separate additional pieces can be used for smaller, more intricate decorating with marzipan molds. The initial marzipan ball can be placed between two pieces of plastic or wax paper and rolled to an eighth of an inch (approximately 3 millimeters) thickness using a rolling pin. This plastic layering protects the marzipan from drying or becoming brittle. One layer of plastic may be removed at a time, and the marzipan can be draped gently over the cake like a sheet with excess or uneven portions being cut away.
The final step in decorating with marzipan shapes involves molding and setting out the pieces to dry or be baked. Colored tinting can be kneaded into the dough prior to placing these shapes into their individual molds. Additional coloring may be diluted with water and brushed over the surface of the shapes to intensify their hues. Colored sugar crystals may be sprinkled into this final layer while drying to add visual interest or effects to the pieces.