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Twelfth Night Cakes with Lemon, Cardamom & Marzipan

Twelfth Night Cakes

Leftovers, Small Cakes | 10th January 2016 | By

Sharp zingy lemon cakes with a light sponge. The subtle notes of cardamom in these Twelfth Night cakes add depth and the marzipan melts to give a certain sweet almondy stickiness. Eminently suitable to celebrate Twelfth Night or any other.

Every year I mean to mark Twelfth Night by making a special cake and every year I manage not to do it – until now. When it comes to cake, I associate Twelfth Night with marzipan, so although I didn’t intend to make a traditional King Cake or similar this year, I did want to include almond paste. And as I still had plenty of lemons left from my 3pFruits box, lemon marzipan cakes it was to be.

Twelfth Night Cakes

Twelfth Night is the last day of Christmas and is traditionally the day the festive decorations are taken down in the UK. It celebrates Epiphany on the 6th January, the day the three kings visited the newly born Jesus. As well as consuming the hot and spicy punch called wassail, a cake used to be baked with a bean stuck inside it. Whoever got the bean became King for the rest of the day. This has largely died out here, although the custom is still alive in many parts of Europe, especially France and Spain.

Lemon Marzipan Cakes

I ended up adapting Ruby Tandoh’s recipe for Lemon & Marzipan Cupcakes from her book Crumb; it had been tempting me for some time. However, in my eyes, these are not cupcakes. Cupcakes have some sort of icing on top and these ones don’t; there is plenty going on without it. I made them a bit more lemony than Ruby, included one of my favourite spices, cardamom and changed a few other ingredients. The result was superb: a definite lemony zing and sharpness with subtle notes of cardamom coming through and bursts of sweet caramelised marzipan.

Other Recipe for Twelfth Night Cakes You Might Like

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Twelfth Night Cakes. PIN IT.

Twelfth Night Lemon Cakes

Twelfth Night Cakes – The Recipe

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5 from 1 vote

Twelfth Night Lemon Cardamom Marzipan Cakes

Sharp zingy lemon cakes with a light sponge. Subtle notes of cardamom add depth and the marzipan melts to give a certain sweet almondy stickiness.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time50 mins
Course: Afternoon Tea, Snack
Cuisine: British
Keyword: cakes, cardamom, lemons, marzipan, twelfth night
Servings: 12 cakes
Calories: 255kcal
Author: Choclette


  • 125 g unsalted butter
  • 75 g golden caster sugar (I used cardamom sugar)
  • 3 cardamom pods - seeds extracted and ground
  • 1 large organic or unwaxed lemon
  • 60 g wholemeal flour
  • 60 g plain flour
  • 60 g ground almonds
  • 1 ½ tsp baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 200 g marzipan - half grated, half cut into small cubes


  • Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
  • Grate in the zest of the lemon, add the ground cardamom and cream a bit more.
  • Beat in the eggs, one by one.
  • Sift in the dry ingredients, discarding any particularly large bits of bran left in the sieve and stir.
  • Juice the lemon and stir in gently with the grated marzipan until everything is just combined.
  • Gently stir in the cubed marzipan.
  • Spoon into twelve cupcake cases and bake at 180℃ (350℉, Gas 4) for about 20 minutes or until the cakes are golden and well risen.
  • Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.


Adapted from Lemon & Marzipan Cupcakes by Ruby Tandoh.
Please note: calories and other nutritional information are per serving. They're approximate and will depend on serving size and exact ingredients used.


Calories: 255kcal | Carbohydrates: 24g | Protein: 5g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 50mg | Sodium: 18mg | Potassium: 142mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 300IU | Vitamin C: 5mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 1mg


These little lemon and cardamom cakes are a great way to use up leftover Christmas marzipan. As such I’m sending them to Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary for the No Waste Food Challenge.

For similar reasons, these Twelfth Night cakes go to Love Cake over at JibberJabberUK.

I don’t think I can claim these cakes are healthy, but they do include lemon. So I’m sending them off to Kat at Baking Explorer and Cakeyboi for this month’s Treat Petite where the theme is fruit and veg.


  1. Henk Kooiman

    10th January 2016 at 3:17 pm

    This is my kind of cake ! Next comment will be about my experience having made them 😉

    • Choclette

      10th January 2016 at 3:48 pm

      Excellent Henk. I look forward to hearing your thoughts 🙂

  2. Kat (The Baking Explorer)

    10th January 2016 at 7:38 pm

    I love the mixture of flavours that you’ve used and those bright cupcake cases are fantastic! Thanks for entering into Treat Petite.

    • Choclette

      10th January 2016 at 7:45 pm

      Thanks Kat. These are my favourite cases, but I bought them years ago and haven’t come across any similar since.

  3. Heidi Roberts

    10th January 2016 at 8:56 pm

    The little cakes look really lovely, anything with marzipan gets my interest!

    • Choclette

      11th January 2016 at 9:22 am

      Thanks Heidi, I’m a big marzipan fan too.

  4. Lucy @ BakingQueen74

    10th January 2016 at 8:58 pm

    Love the sound of these and I have loads of leftover marzipan – result!

    • Choclette

      11th January 2016 at 9:22 am

      Go for it Lucy, it sounds as though you have no excuse 😉

  5. Alicia (foodycat)

    10th January 2016 at 9:20 pm

    I know exactly what you mean about *meaning* to do something for 12th Night! Only… I never do. These sound so delicious though!

    • Choclette

      11th January 2016 at 9:21 am

      Thanks Alicia. My life is paved with *meaning*!!!

  6. lisa

    10th January 2016 at 10:14 pm

    I’d seen a few twelfth night posts but not realised what it was! Thanks to your post now I do! These sound fab, I love lemon and cardamom, perfect combination. x

    • Choclette

      11th January 2016 at 9:18 am

      Thanks Lisa, it’s a really big celebration in some parts of the world, but seems to be mostly forgotten over here.

  7. Nadia's Healthy Kitchen

    10th January 2016 at 10:37 pm

    Ooo they look delish! The flavour combination is interesting, I haven’t had anything that combines those 3 flavours, but I imagine they go really well together 😀

    • Choclette

      11th January 2016 at 9:15 am

      Oh yes Nadia, you must try it. I’ve used lemon, almond and cardamom together many times and the combination is a real winner.

  8. Phil in the Kitchen

    10th January 2016 at 11:05 pm

    I greatly admire the fact that you made a 12th night cake. I used to bake something years ago and I always mean to do it again but never do. I think it’s because everyone I know is on a diet in January and refuses to eat cake. I’m currently more than a little obsessed by cardamom in cakes so this is definitely for me. The flavours are just right for this time of winter somehow.

    • Choclette

      11th January 2016 at 9:14 am

      Haha Phil, it’s taken me long enough and of course it’s by no means a traditional one. As for diet, that’s a dirty word in our household 😉

  9. Susan

    10th January 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Cardamom is one of the most under rated spices there are … combine it with almonds and it really does shine! I’ve found it lovely in some Swedish cake recipes that I found in an old cook book of Scandinavian cuisine. Your little cakes look delish!

    • Choclette

      11th January 2016 at 9:10 am

      Hello Susan, lovely to hear from you. Happy New Year. I wonder why the Scandinavians cottoned on to cardamom and we never did in the UK. Luckily things are changing now.

  10. Angela / Only Crumbs Remain

    11th January 2016 at 7:59 am

    Ooh these sound glorious, flavours when I adore. I must admit that I’ve never heard of a Wassail cake – it sounds very interesting., nor have I ever made a Twelfth Night Cake, I’ll have to try to remedy that next year!
    Angela x

    • Choclette

      11th January 2016 at 9:05 am

      Thank you Angela. A Wassail cake sounds like a lovely idea – I might borrow that idea for next year 😉

  11. Corina

    11th January 2016 at 11:27 am

    I am such a fan of marzipan and these cupcakes are an inspired way of using up the leftovers after making a Christmas cake. I love the lemon and cardamom flavours in them too.

    • Choclette

      11th January 2016 at 2:03 pm

      Thanks Corina, I’m a bit of a marzipan fan too 🙂

  12. Angie@Angie's Recipes

    11th January 2016 at 6:30 pm

    I love the combo of flavour of those little treats. They look so beautiful and tasty.

    • Choclette

      12th January 2016 at 9:15 am

      Thanks Angie, I’m sucker for all of these flavours and definitely for marzipan.

  13. Elizabeth

    12th January 2016 at 1:17 pm

    Oh this sounds amazing! I could go one of these with my coffee right now. It feels like absolutely forever since I last had cake (I’m on a fitness mission!). Thank you for linking up with the No Waste Food Challenge – there’s a new logo too, for the new year! 🙂

    • Choclette

      13th January 2016 at 2:53 pm

      The excuse is, if ever you needed one, that the cakes are just getting rid of surplus Christmas ingredients!

  14. Dom

    12th January 2016 at 5:51 pm

    oh yes…. Lemon, cardamom and ground almond. I love the texture. Very nice… can I have one now please?

    • Choclette

      13th January 2016 at 2:49 pm

      If you’d just like to pop round Dom, I’m sure I can spare you one 😉

  15. Chris @thinlyspread

    14th January 2016 at 12:30 pm

    What a wonderful combination of flavours, I’m on my way – pop the kettle on 😉

    • Choclette

      14th January 2016 at 7:02 pm

      You’re late Chris 😉

  16. Becca @ Amuse Your Bouche

    14th January 2016 at 12:35 pm

    The flavours in these sound lovely – the perfect thing to serve with a cup of tea 🙂

    • Choclette

      14th January 2016 at 8:26 pm

      Yep, I can attest these went very well with a cup of tea Becca 😉

  17. Cathy @ Planet Veggie

    14th January 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Thanks for the history lesson! Your cakes look fab and the combination of lemon and marzipan sounds gorgeous.

    • Choclette

      14th January 2016 at 8:31 pm

      Haha Cathy, I used to love history at school, but sadly, I’ve forgotten far more than I ever knew. Luckily, the cake flavours were fab.

  18. Sarah James

    14th January 2016 at 5:46 pm

    What a great way to use up leftover marzipan, I love the sound of cardamom and lemon, delicious.

    • Choclette

      14th January 2016 at 8:32 pm

      I’ve made many a cardamom and lemon bake, it really is a lovely combination.

  19. Nayna Kanabar

    14th January 2016 at 10:25 pm

    What a great reason to bake a cake as if anyone really needs an excuse to bake a cake!!! I love your flavours lemon and cardamom.

    • Choclette

      15th January 2016 at 9:25 am

      Thanks Nayna, no real excuses needed to bake a cake here 😉

  20. Johanna @ Green Gourmet Giraffe

    15th January 2016 at 11:42 am

    sounds lovely – love marzipan in cakes – I liked the idea of celebrating the epiphany but this year I was so busy I could barely get my christmas decorations off the tree and had to take the rest down the next day. I imagine that people would probably sue over the bean in the king cake if they broke a tooth these days so it is just another public liability issue 🙂

    • Choclette

      15th January 2016 at 11:52 am

      Haha, you’re probably right Johanna. How times change. Yes marzipan gives such a nice sticky sort of texture in cakes as well as good flavour. Hope things have calmed down for you a bit.

  21. Kate - gluten free alchemist

    15th January 2016 at 10:29 pm

    Ooooohhhh lovely! Marzipan in lemony cake sounds lush, especially with a hint of cardamom. Perfectly golden and beautifully moist…… bet they didn’t last long!

    • Choclette

      16th January 2016 at 8:07 pm

      You know us too well Kate. Er, no, they didn’t last long 😉

  22. Jacqueline Meldrum

    16th January 2016 at 1:52 pm

    Oh how I wish I liked marzipan. These look so good. Stumbled, yummed and tweeted.

    • Choclette

      16th January 2016 at 8:03 pm

      Oh yes, I forgot you had a thing about marzipan Jac – but it’s so delicious 😉

  23. the caked crusader

    17th January 2016 at 3:00 pm

    Love marzipan baked into a cake – it adds such richness.

    • Choclette

      18th January 2016 at 9:22 am

      I’m totally with you there CC 🙂

  24. Ness

    28th January 2016 at 12:19 pm

    I love marzipan so it is rare I have any left as I tend to scoff the leftovers! I always mean to make for Twelfth Night but never get round to it but these look like something I can whip up. I think they would also work well at Easter. I always think of Easter and lemons!

    • Choclette

      29th January 2016 at 9:36 am

      Yes Ness, you’re right about Easter. The yellow of lemons is a good fit and of course marzipan is too.


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