A Sweet History
Marzipan pops up in the history books on more than one occasion.
From an early age, Leonardo Di Vinci was hooked on marzipan. He loved its sugary taste. He also loved how it could be moulded, and he used it to create intricate marzipan sculptures which he made for the Milanese court. Imagine his dismay when they ate them. In fact, he wrote that ‘he observed in pain’ as they were greedily demolished.
Shakespeare also wrote about marzipan. In Act 1, Scene 5 of Romeo and Juliet, the first servant says ‘Good thou, save me a piece of marchpane’. It was clearly a delicacy served in royal courts. A delicacy that was so delicious that servants would gladly eat the scraps.
It was also one of the main ingredients used to celebrate Twelfth Night, a celebration that takes place on the last night of the twelve days of Christmas. In the 1600s, the Twelfth Night cake contained almonds and was covered in marzipan.
However, when Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans abolished the monarchy and formed a commonwealth, they deemed Twelfth Night too excessive. Not only were the celebrations banned, but the food was banned too. This meant no marzipan covered cake. But, they didn’t go as far as prohibiting Christmas, so marzipan was saved. People decided to add a layer of it to their Christmas cakes instead, and that’s how the modern-day Christmas cake was born.