Decorating Christmas Cakes
"It wouldn’t be Christmas without a rich, dark fruit cake, covered with a thick layer or marzipan and iced with festive decorations. This is the perfect opportunity to let your imagination run wild and create a stunning masterpiece to show off your skills. With all the wonderful Christmas shape cutters available, it may not be as tricky as you think."
Hopefully, you will have made your fruit cake a while ago and left it to mature, feeding it with a little alcohol each week. If you haven’t, don’t panic, there are many recipes out there that will produce a great last minute cake. You will need to decorate your cake a few days before Christmas to give the layers time to dry so make sure you plan ahead.
Firstly, level your cake and fill any holes with small pieces of marzipan, pushing them in with your fingers to plug the gaps. Warm some apricot jam or apricot glaze and brush it all over the cake – a silicone pastry brush is useful, or just use the back of a teaspoon. If your apricot jam contains pieces of fruit it is best to sieve it before brushing it onto the cake.
If you are covering a fruit cake, as a general rule of thumb you can weigh your cake then use half that weight in marzipan to cover it. As a rough guide, you will need approximately 750g of marzipan to cover a 7 inch cake and about 1kg of marzipan to cover an 8 inch cake. Knead the marzipan until it is soft and pliable then roll out on a work surface lightly dusted with icing sugar until it is approximately 7mm (1/4 inch) thick. Drape over the cake and use your hands to press the marzipan onto the cake, as you would when covering a cake with sugar paste. Leave the marzipan to dry out for 24 hours.
Now you are ready to cover the cake with sugar paste or royal icing. If you are using sugar paste, brush the cake with clear alcohol, such as gin or vodka, before covering. If you are using royal icing you won’t need to do this.
- Cover the cake with royal icing and rough up the surface with a palette knife to make it look like snow. Cut out different sized stars from green sugar paste and stack them at different angles, biggest at the bottom, to make it look like a Christmas tree. Dust with icing sugar and place on the cake.
- Model little penguins out of sugar paste or marzipan – you could give some of them Santa hats or scarves. Cut out a circle of blue sugar paste to make a pond and sit the penguins around it.
- Use a plunge cutter to make different sized snowflakes. Cover your cake with light blue sugar paste and attach the snowflakes with edible glue. Sprinkle with some silver edible glitter.
- Make a snowman out of sugar paste or marzipan. Give him a hat and scarf. Roll small balls of white sugar paste to make snowballs and stack them up next to the snowman.