You just will not get the marzipan to ooze into the cake batter if it starts off fridge-cold. In dire straits, I have cubed it and given it a quick whirl in the microwave. And if you wanted to replace the vanilla extract with the zest of an orange, I wouldn't mind in the slightest.
Photo by Petrina Tinslay.
Recipe posted by Nigella
250 grams unsalted butter (softened)
250 grams marzipan (softened)
150 grams caster sugar
¼ teaspoon almond essence
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
6 large eggs
150 grams self-raising flour
You will need a 25cm / 10 inch springform tube pan or patterned ring mould, buttered and floured.
Preheat oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3/325ºF. Chop the butter and marzipan to make them easier to break down, and put them in the bowl of the food processor, fitted with the doublebladed knife, with the sugar. Process until combined and pretty well smooth. Add almond essence and vanilla extract, process again, then break the eggs one at a time through the funnel, processing again each time. Tip the flour down the funnel, processing yet again, and then pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping the sides and bottom with a rubber spatula.
Bake for 50 minutes, but check from 40. Then, when the cake looks golden and cooked and a cake-tester or fine skewer (or a piece of spaghetti) comes out cleanish, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin before turning out. (This is when you will be feeling grateful if it's the Springform you're using.)
The fact that you could easily get 12 slices out of this is another reason why it comes in useful when you've got people coming for dinner. That it keeps for a good week is another point in its favour; you don't have to be fiddling around with all the courses just before lift-off. And if you don't want to eat raspberries with it, like the rosemary cake it's very good with apples. With this cake, I make a glorious pink apple puree. Either go for apples stewed in blood-orange juice (wonderful around February when the tarocchi are in) which gives a tenderly coral tint, adding a cinnamon stick or 1/2 - 1 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, or use red-skinned eating apples and don't peel them before cooking them. In fact, there's no need to core them either, just chop the apples roughly and put them in a pan with some butter, lemon juice, cinnamon or cloves and, if there's some around, a slug of Calvados. Sieve the apples when they're cooked to an utterly yielding pulp, or push them through a food mill. If you want to smarten up the cake-plus-puree deal, then provide a bowl of creme fraiche (with or without Calvados and a little golden icing sugar stirred in) with some toasted flaked almonds on top.
I am not someone who enjoys peeling and depithing oranges at great length, but sliced tarocchi, or ordinary oranges, with a syrup made by reducing equal volumes of juice and sugar to an almost-caramel, would partner an orange-zested version of this almond ring (the zest in place of vanilla) exquisitely.