Monday, 23 March 2009

Mozart, Marzipan and Battenberg ...

Dear Mr Postman .. what fun .. information on a composer, theatre , a Prince and our own Queen Elizabeth II.. who'd have thought there'd be a connection .. let's read this latest positive letter ....

I love these stories .. reminding me of my early memories .. we only had Battenberg cake at tea times as a real treat - did you have it? We used to call it window cake .. with its panes of yellow and pale pink sponge, divided by apricot jam and surrounded by marzipan paste - occasionally I'll have it now ... in fact I had a large one made for my brother for one of his birthdays in recent years = it was much appreciated!

The origin of the name is not clear .. but it's accepted that a cake was created in honour of the marriage in 1884 of Queen Victoria's granddaughter to Prince Louis of Battenberg, with each of the four squares representing the four Battenberg princes. However Prince Louis had a greater heritage to come .. he is the grandfather of Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, who is married to our Queen.

We loved marzipan and I always looked forward to a proper rich Christmas fruit cake covered in real home made marzipan, and then coated in royal icing - resembling snow drifts .. decorated with fir trees, a snowman and Father Christmas.

Marzipan is one of those historical sweetmeats that has travelled from Persia, with its wonderful orchards of almond trees, across the Mediterranean bringing with it the Arabic influence of sweetmeats .. very likely going both north into the Austro Hungarian empire and skirting south, via the Moorish lands, to Iberia .. again laden with almond orchards.

Marzipan was so pliable that in medieval times it was moulded to create elaborate sculptures - this was when food was an acceptable form of theatre for the rich .. and was used as entertainment ... the staff utilising all their imaginery skills to create incredible buffets.

Now-a-days marzipan is made into imitations of fruit and vegetables, filled with chocolate, or made into simple animal shapes or figurines .. apart from the uses for Christmas cakes, stollen and simnel cake as mentioned in my previous post. A particularly well known piece of confectionery is the Mozartkugel (Mozart ball) ....

The “Original Salzburg Mozartkugeln” are still produced manually by the confectioner F├╝rst in Salzburg, Austria according to the original recipe, 1890, and using the original technique and was named after Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart: First, a ball of green pistachio marzipan covered in a layer of nougat is produced and is then placed on a small wooden stick and dunked in a dark chocolate coating, which is then allowed to cool off and harden. Finally, the stick is removed; the hole that it leaves behind is filled with chocolate coating, and the ball is wrapped in blue-silver tin foil by hand.

Well Mr Postman .. you continue to surprise me .. what next? .. lucky dip is it .. perhaps I'll go and get some marzipan chocolate to help wait for your next positive story ..


Peter Baca said...


Great information on marzipan! I was well aware of marzipan used on cakes. But, I was not aware of its extensive history.


Pete Baca
The Car Enthusiast Online

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Thanks Pete .. I'm always amazed learning new things .. & history like this is so interesting .. I struggled with it at school!

Great to have you her commenting again for me .. Thank you - Hilary: Positive Letters

Anonymous said...

Hi Hilary

The Mozart ball sounds interesting, you have so many stories and fun things to share all the day. You are amazing.
Giovanna Garcia
Imperfect Action is better than No Action

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Gio .. thanks so much for visiting .. sounds a good reason to visit Salzburg I think .. the Mozart balls sound so delicious & we should try the real thing?

I just enjoy the stories .. and so does my mother .. Hilary: Positive Letters