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Tudor Desserts

Baked Tudor Marchpane:

The dessert course of Tudor meal was called the “banqueting course” at the meal’s end and consisted of a table full of sweet and elaborate confections. During Christmastime, the desserts were especially elaborate. In the 17th century, sugar was a way to denote the status of a household, as it was an expensive luxury. Not only was the use of sugar a sign of wealth, but it was also believed to have medicinal properties helpful in digestion.

One of the most popular sweets for this dessert course was marchpane. (*Our modern version is marzipan.) Marchpane was made from ground almonds (shelled and ground very fine), sugar and rosewater. It was molded into shapes and baked, and decorated with colored glazes, gilded fruits, and “comfits” - nuts or seeds coated in sugar. It could be shaped into elaborate designs and centerpieces.

In many households, the lady of the house and her daughters and maids made the more elaborate confections. In very wealthy and noble households, a special chef most likely prepared these desserts.

Enjoy making this baked Tudor marchpane for your holiday celebration!

Ages : All Ages

Time Required: Preparation: 15 minutes, Cooking: 30 minutes

Materials Required

· 200g/7oz almonds (you can also use ready-ground almonds)

· 120g/4oz icing sugar (powdered sugar)

· 2/3 tablespoons rosewater (you can buy this in health food shops and some supermarkets)

· Glacé fruit to decorate

· Pestle and mortar

· Weighing scales

· Tablespoon

· Mixing bowl

· Round 20cm cake tin

· Greaseproof paper

· Oven


  1. Make sure to wash your hands before you start cooking, and preheat your oven to 160C/325F

  2. Grind up the almonds with the pestle and mortar - this is how the Tudors would have done it! You can add a little rosewater to make it easier.

  3. Put the almonds into a mixing bowl.

  4. Add the icing sugar and mix together.

  5. Stir in the rose water to make a sticky paste.

  6. Now it's time to get messy! Get your hands in and gather the mixture together into a big ball.

  7. If it's too sticky add some more sugar, if it's too dry add a little more rose water.

  8. 8. Grease your cake tin with a little butter then line with grease-proof paper.

  9. Press your mixture into the tin.

  10. Decorate your Marchpane with glacé fruit.

  11. Mix together one tablespoon of icing sugar and one tablespoon of rose water to glaze the top of your Marchpane - this will make it look shiny once cooked!

  12. Bake in your preheated oven for about 30 minutes.

  13. Wait for it to cool before sharing it with your family and friends!

Recipe and photo source:





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