Jamestown Food and Feasts 2015 – Recipe for Sugar Cakes

Gardiner’s Company had a great time at Foods and Feasts this year! Thank you to all our great volunteers, it was fabulous.

Bob and I worked the Great Hall in the Governor’s House, as usual:

FF 2015 table 1

I’ll be posting all the recipes for this year’s Governor’s Table over the course of the next week or so, but let’s start with links to the recipes I posted last year:

Sugar Cakes:

sugar cakes with marzipan 2015

This year, I augmented the recipe with a topping for wafers (another kind of thin cookie, very popular with the rich) from The English Housewife by Gervase Markham:

To make the best marchpane [marzipan], take the best Jordan almonds and blanch them in warm water, then put them into a stone mortar, and with a wooden pestle beat them to pap, then take of the finest refined sugar well searced [powdered], and with it, and damask rose-water, beat it to a good stiff paste, allowing to almost every Jordan almond three spoonful of sugar; then when it is brought thus to a paste, lay it on a fair [flat] table, and strewing searced sugar under it, mould it like leaven [i.e., into a flattish ball, like a round loaf of bread]; then with a rolling pin roll it forth, and lay it upon wafers washed with rose-water; then pinch it about the sides, and put it into what form you please; then strew searced sugar all over it; which done, wash it over with rose-water and sugar mixed together, for that will make the ice; then adorn it with comfits, gilding, or whatsoever devices you please, and so set it into a hot stove, and there bake it crispy, and so serve it forth.

I substituted the sugar cakes for the wafers in the recipe, baking them and allowing them to cool before applying the marzipan. I rolled out the marzipan to a 1/4″ thick, and cut out the rolled marzipan with the same size cutter I used for the sugar cake dough (about 2″).

You will need:
Baked and cooled sugar cakes
16oz almond paste (in cans in the baking aisle; any marzipan dough will do)
2 cups powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, plus more for dusting
1/4 cup rosewater, plus two Tablespoons rosewater

Dust your rolling surface and rolling pin with powdered sugar. Open the marzipan, and rolling it in your hands, form it into a ball. Roll the ball out until roughly 1/4″ thick (if it gets sticky, add more powdered sugar). Using the same size cutter as your sugar cakes, cut out as many rounds of marzipan as you have sugar cakes (the linked recipe makes about 52).

Working a few at a time so they don’t dry out, brush the tops of the sugar cakes with rosewater and then apply the marzipan rounds, pressing down lightly. Allow to dry.

Mix the 1/4 cup rosewater and the 2 cups powdered sugar together (you can add some meringue powder here for stability if you wish, but it’s not mandatory) into icing. Using a pastry brush, brush a thick layer of the icing onto each sugar cake. Allow to dry completely before putting them into a cookie tin or box. Put parchment paper between the layers of cookies, as the marzipan will get oily if it gets warm.

You can also change the flavour of the recipe by substituting lemon juice or plain water for the rosewater. Not everyone likes rosewater, but I think these are delicious.