Almond Apple Gateau
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
A Madeira sponge cake flavored with lemon zest, spices, and grated apples is the basis for this elegant dessert. The gateau is layered with marzipan and apricot jam, and then covered with a thick coat of sweetened whipped cream made with ground almonds. Don’t let the apples fool you; they aren’t picked from a tree. Each apple is a sweet confection made with marzipan, a whole clove for the apple stem and sepal, and painted with food color. I quickly realized I should have made a bushel of apples; everyone I served this to delighted in eating the sweet marzipan apples as much as the cake.

You can make the marzipan up to a week ahead of time and refrigerate; the marzipan is easier to work with when chilled. Also make the marzipan apples one or two days beforehand so they are ready to use once the cake is completed and ready to serve. Remove the clove pieces before eating the apples.
Recipe type: Dessert | Genoise Cake | Apple | Marzipan
Serves: 12 to 16
Cake Batter:
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup corn starch
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter (to clarify)
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 medium sized Granny Smith baking apple
  • 1 medium sized sweet apple (such as Braeburn or Fuji)
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 5 large eggs
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest (about 1 lemon)
  • 2 ounces finely ground blanched almonds (about ½ cup)
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup water
  • ⅛ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 4 cups blanched, finely ground almonds
  • 2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
  • About ½ cup confectioner’s (powdered) sugar (for kneading)
  • ½ cup apricot jam
Whipped Cream Topping:
  • 1½ cups whipping (heavy) cream
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' (powdered) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces finely ground blanched almonds (about ½ cup)
  • About 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/16 teaspoon ground cloves
Marzipan Apples:
  • About 12 ounces marzipan for marzipan apples
  • Whole cloves
  • Food Coloring
  • Clear alcohol such as vodka or gin or kirschwasser
  • Small artist paintbrush
  • Edible glitter (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare one 9 inch round layer cake pan; lightly grease the pan with shortening and dust with flour. Tip: to make baked cake easier to remove from pan, lightly grease the pan, line with parchment paper, and then lightly grease the top of the parchment paper and dust the pan with flour.
Wrap the outside of the pan with a cake strip to help ensure the cake rises evenly. Tip: Make a cake strip with a length of aluminum foil long enough to encircle the pan with a little overlap. Fold the strip lengthwise until it is 2 to 3 inches wide. Wrap the strip around the outside of the pan and secure it with a metal paper clip or tape.
Cake Batter:
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, corn starch, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves; sift or whisk together to mix. Set aside.
  2. Clarify Butter: Melt and simmer the butter in a saucepan over low heat for a few minutes. Skim off and discard the white layer that forms on top. Let the butter sit and cool for about 5 minutes to allow the milk solids to sink to the bottom of the pan. Carefully spoon out the clear (clarified) butter into a small bowl. If you think you’ve accidentally scooped out some of the milk solids from the bottom, strain the clarified butter through a piece of cheesecloth to remove the solids. Discard the milk solids.
  3. Measure ¼ cup clarified butter to use, discarding any remaining butter or save for another project. Stir in vanilla extract. Set aside.
  4. Peel, core, and coarsely grate the apples, Sprinkle 2 teaspoons lemon juice over the grated apples, stir until well mixed. Place apples in a colander and place in your kitchen sink to let apples juices drain out while preparing the rest of the batter.
  5. In a large bowl of an electric mixer, use a wire whisk to whisk together the eggs, sugar, salt, and one tablespoon lemon juice just until blended. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water, making sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl, and heat the egg mixture 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until the mixture is a deep golden color and warm to the touch, 115 to 120 degrees on an instant-read thermometer. Tip: it is important to whisk constantly while heating the mixture so the eggs don’t start cooking, creating scrambled eggs.
  6. Remove the bowl from the simmering water and dry the bottom. Using an electric mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the egg mixture on medium-high speed until cool and the mixture has tripled in volume and is thick and light in color, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the bowl from the mixer.
  7. Place the flour mixture into a wire mesh strainer and sprinkle 2 to 3 tablespoons at a time over the egg mixture. Using a balloon type whisk or large rubber spatula, fold the flour mixture into the eggs, using about 3 to 4 turns with each addition of flour, and making sure to reach to the bottom of the bowl as you fold. Do not worry about incorporating all the flour until the last addition, as too much handling will deflate the batter. The flour should be added quickly in about 5 to 6 additions.
  8. Before the last addition of flour, quickly pour the warm butter in a stream over the batter. Immediately sprinkle in the remaining flour mixture, and fold into the batter using another 3 to 4 turns. Gently add the grated apples and ground almonds and fold into the batter taking about 12 to 15 more turns to completely incorporate the ingredients, and taking no more than 15 to 20 seconds as the batter can deflate quickly.
  9. Using a rubber spatula, immediately push the batter into the prepared pan. If any butter remains in the bottom of the bowl, do not add to the batter as this could prevent the cake from rising. Smooth the top of the batter with a small offset spatula or the back of a large spoon.
  10. Bake: Tap the pan on the counter to remove air bubbles, and place the pan in the oven. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake is springy to the touch and has come away from the sides of the pan. Remove the pan from the oven and let stand 10 minutes on a wire cooling rack. Run a thin sharp knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake. Remove cake from the pan and place on a wire cooling rack to finish cooling. Tip: Lightly grease the cooling rack with vegetable oil or a nonstick cooking spray to prevent the cake from sticking.
  1. In a large size heavy saucepan, preferably non-stick, combine sugar and water. Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, until the sugar is completely dissolved. Add the cream of tartar, increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and boil for 3 minutes.
  2. Remove the lid, and return the pan to medium high heat. Bring the syrup to a boil, without stirring, until the syrup reaches a temperature of 240 degrees F, a soft-ball stage, using a candy or instant read thermometer to gauge the temperature. While the syrup is cooking, wash away any sugar crystals that form on the sides of the pan by wiping upwards with a damp pastry brush so the sugar crystals don’t fall back into the syrup. Remove pan from the heat.
  3. Dip the bottom of the saucepan in a large bowl of cold water, and beat the syrup with a wooden spoon until the syrup cools and becomes thick and creamy and starts turning white.
  4. Stir in the ground almonds and egg whites; the mixture may seem dry and crumbly at this point. Place the pan over low heat and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is well mixed. The heat will help to soften the mixture making it easier to mix.
  5. Kneading: Sprinkle a large marble board, or large pastry mat with powdered sugar. Turn the marzipan mixture out onto the board.
  6. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, begin lifting and folding the edges of the marzipan into the center until it is cool enough to handle with your hands.
  7. Gather the entire mixture up with your hands or dough scraper into a ball and begin kneading until the marzipan becomes smooth and pliable, 5 to 6 minutes, adding additional powdered sugar 1 tablespoon at a time if the marzipan is too sticky. You will probably knead the entire ½ cup powdered sugar into the marzipan; however it is ok to add additional powdered sugar if needed.
  8. The marzipan can be used immediately, or wrap in plastic wrap and place in a resealable plastic bag or airtight container and store in a cool place or refrigerate until ready to use.
  9. This recipe makes about 2 pounds of marzipan; 1 pound is used to assemble the cake, and a portion of the other pound is used to make the marzipan apples.
Assembly and Filling:
  1. Divide 1 pound of marzipan in half. Sprinkle a large marble board, or large pastry mat with powdered sugar. Using a rolling pin, roll out each of the ½ pound portions of marzipan into a 9 inch circle, about ⅛ inch thick. Set aside.
  2. Use a long serrated kitchen knife to split the cake into 3 horizontal layers. Place the first layer cut side up on a cake plate. Using a pastry brush, brush ¼ cup of the apricot jam over the cake layer. Lay one of the rolled marzipan circles on the apricot jam. Tip: The marzipan layer should be the same size as the cake layer. If the marzipan is larger you can gently press in on the edges of the marzipan until it is even with the cake layer.
  3. Place the middle layer over the first and brush ¼ cup of the apricot jam over the cake layer. Lay the remaining rolled marzipan circle on the apricot jam, making sure the edges of the marzipan are even with the cake layer.
  4. Place the third layer cut side down on top of the cake. Refrigerate while preparing the Whipped Cream Topping.
Whipped Cream Topping:
  1. In a large mixing bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the whipping cream until soft mounds form; gradually add the powdered sugar and vanilla, continue beating until thick and stiff. Remove bowl from the mixer and use a rubber spatula to gently fold in the ground almonds. Tip: the cream will whip easier if the mixing bowl and beaters are first chilled; place in the refrigerator to chill until ready to whip the cream.
  2. Remove the cake from the refrigerator. Frost the sides and top of the cake with the whipped cream topping.
  1. Gently press the toasted sliced almonds around the sides of the cake, covering the sides completely.
  2. Use the back of a large kitchen knife to press lines into the top of the cake, marking the cake into 16 portions.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Use a fine-mesh sieve to dust the top of cake with the spice mixture. Tip: you don’t need to use all the spice mixture, just a light sprinkling is best.
  4. Refrigerate the cake at least one hour to stabilize the whipped cream before serving.
  5. Arrange the marzipan apples around the top of the cake just before serving.
Marzipan Apples:
  1. Use about 12 ounces of the remaining marzipan to make about 25 marzipan apples, or use the whole remaining 1 pound portion to add extra apples when serving.Making Marzipan Apples
  2. Use about ½ ounce of marzipan for each apple, and form into a small ball about ¾ to 1 inch in diameter.
  3. Use a sharp pair of kitchen scissors and cut off the round end of a clove and press into the marzipan ball for the apple’s sepal. Press the stem of the clove into the opposite side of the marzipan ball to make the apple stem.
  4. Use a small artist paintbrush to paint the apples with diluted red and green food color mixed with clear alcohol, then sprinkle[/url] with edible glitter, if desired. Tip: I painted the apples with a thin coat of electric green food color diluted with the clear alcohol and let dry. Then I lightly brushed a reddish color over parts of the apples, made with red, pink, and terracotta food color diluted with the clear alcohol. Before the apples were completely dry I lightly dusted a small amount of ruby red disco dust, or edible glitter, onto the red portions of the apples. Let sit to dry completely.
Recipe Notes
Pan: One 9" Round Oven Temp: 350° Storage: Cover and Refrigerate

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