From DT Online
Sugar had been brought to England by the Crusaders and sugar-based food became very popular during Tudor times.
Sugar was mixed with Gum Tragacanth, Rose Water, lemon juice and egg white to create a mouldable paste similar to Fondant Icing. A stiff mouldable paste was made by adding finely ground Almonds to sugar with Rose Water to make a confection known as Marchpane - now known as Marzipan. Sugar and most ingredients were imported, making confections very expensive and enjoyed only by the very wealthy - who tended to eat them in large quantities!
Marchpane could be moulded into very complex shapes and, with food colouring, used to model objects, fruits, vegetables animals and birds for example. Sometimes wooden moulds were made into which the paste was pressed to take its form. Elizabeth 1st was presented with a detailed model of St Pauls Cathedral on one occasion and a ‘faire marchpane being a chessboarde’ on another. Marchpane was used to create 'Illusion Foods’ whereby diners were fooled into believing they were receiving something other than they were being served. Marchpane animals were coated with breadcrumbs, cinnamon and sugar boiled together so that they would appear roasted and breaded ‘by this meanes, a banquet may bee presented in the forme of a supper, being a very rare and strange device’.
Take two pound of almonds blanched and beaten in a stone mortar, till they begin to come to a fine paste, then take a pound of sifted sugar put it in the mortar with the almonds, and make it into a perfect paste, putting to it now and then in the beating of it a spoonfull of rose-water to keep it from oyling; when you have beaten it to a puff-paste, drive it out as big as a charger, and set an edge about it as you do a quodling tart [i.e. apple tart - Ed.], and the bottom of wafers under it, thus bake it in an oven or baking-pan; when you see it white, and hard, and dry, take it out, and ice it with rosewater and suger, being made as thick as butter for fritters, so spread it on with a wing feather, and put it into the oven again; when you see it rise high, then take it out and garnish it with come pretty conceits made of the same stuff.
Design and make a selection of Marchpanes