Yesterday I went into town to fill the car up with fuel and get in a few groceries to tide us over the shop closures in the coming week. While in the supermarket I went to look for marzipan, as I was thinking about making stollen. This particular supermarket only appeared to stock one variety of marzipan (but about 3 varieties of royal icing) and unsurprisingly, they were sold out. ‘Never mind’, I told myself, ‘I might have enough marzipan at home, or I can just make it another time’.
Fast forward a few hours. Hubby and I were sitting listening to music after tea, just chatting about this and that, when the subject of family visits over Christmas came up. ‘Arghhh, I haven’t iced the cake yet!’ was my response. Then ‘Marzipan! I don’t know if I have enough!’ Yup, lots of drama. When we went to the kitchen later, I checked the cupboard. Not only did I have just half a packet of marzipan, I had barely one quarter of a packet of royal icing. I decided I could maybe make the marzipan stretch, but surely I could make royal icing. Can’t be that hard can it? I went to bed, safe in the knowledge that what I can’t buy I can probably make.
Milking the cows at 6am this morning, my mind began to wander to the subject of Christmas cake. I seemed to dredge up from the depths of my mind the recollection of my Mum using glycerin in royal icing. I mentally went through the random rubbish in my baking cupboard; food colouring, rennet (why?), various types of sprinkles and some very old marshmallows. No glycerin. I decided to deal with it later, surely I could find a variation that doesn’t require glycerin.
Whilst eating my breakfast and surfing the internet, I checked my cook book and found that royal icing does indeed require glycerin. I did a quick Google and discovered that while glycerin helps to soften icing, it isn’t absolutely necessary. That sounded fine, if anyone broke a tooth on my Christmas cake then sorry, but surely it was worth it?
I got my cake out, fished out the marzipan and icing, and prepared to start marzipanning. I actually started with a large square cake and cut it up, so I have 2 cakes to decorate. I started on one, and as I got going I quickly realised I had enough marzipan for one cake only. Never mind, marzipan can be home-made too. I grabbed the icing sugar to dust the work surface before rolling the marzipan, and as I looked at the not quite half-full packet, a growing dread filled me. Royal icing can be made without glycerin, but it certainly can’t be made with no icing sugar. I feverishly rooted through all the cupboards where I might (and might not) possibly consider storing icing sugar, but there was none to be found.
A twelve mile round-trip just for icing sugar seems kind of foolish, and it’s not like I need anything else, having just been to town yesterday. I am keeping my fingers crossed that the little village store will sell some; I will head out tomorrow morning. If my mission is successful, watch this space, I will put up my recipes for marzipan and royal icing. If I am unsuccessful, we will be waiting until New Year to eat our Christmas cake.