This week’s guest blog is part 2 of a recipe for a Christmas Cake from Pixie Hall Cakes
– how to decorate it!…
So, the lights are twinkling, the supermarket aisles are full to the brim with gifts and treats and the air is cold and crisp. Christmas is just around the corner and honestly? I cannot wait. I love this time of year. I am a big kid.
Last month I showed you how to make a delicious Christmas cake and as promised, I have some decorating ideas for you today. Your cake should smell pretty amazing by now. Packed with fruit and soaked with rum (or whatever you chose to anoint your glorious creation with) it should be ready for its final festive flourish.
Where to start? I’ve decided to go for some quite traditional ideas as they are simple to do and look lovely. There is plenty of room to tweak these ideas to your personal tastes and that’s the beauty of making your own cake, you get to make it how you like it.
Covering the cake
I’ll start off by showing you how to cover your cake in marzipan. It’s really simple. Before doing any of these, you’ll need to pop your cake on a cake board (or make your own by cutting some cardboard to the same size as your cake and covering it in foil. Make sure it’s nice and flat.
You will need:
Marzipan (I use shop bought)
Ready to roll icing (white or ivory colours work really well)
Smooth apricot jam
Start with your block of marzipan (I chose golden but you can go for the white version if you prefer) and knead it slightly to make it pliable. Dust your surface with some cornflour (top tip: icing sugar may have been your go to choice but it can make things a bit sticky. Cornflour will work perfectly), place the marzipan down and dust that too. Take your rolling pin and roll the marzipan out to around 3mm thick. You can check that the marzipan is big enough for your cake by holding the cake over the marzipan sheet – there needs to be enough to cover the top and sides of your cake in once piece.
Pop your jam in a microwave safe pot and cook for around 10-14 seconds until it boils. Using a pastry brush, brush the jam all over the top and sides of the cake (this helps the marzipan stick to the cake).
Carefully lift the marzipan sheet up and over the cake and position it centrally. Gently smooth down the sides of the marzipan with flat hands and ease out any creases.
Trim the edges of the marzipan so there is still a bit extra and continue to smooth over the cake. Trim the rest off to form a neat edge.
If you are not a fan of the traditional white icing, you can use dried fruit and/or nuts on the top or your marzipan layer. Just arrange them in a pattern and then glaze with a bit of the apricot jam. The jam is easier to spread if it’s hot, so pop it back in microwave as necessary.
If your cake is for your family, it might be easier to store in the lid of a storage tin so that you can easily cut slices off throughout the festive period. Just pop the main part of the tin over the top to keep it fresh.
If you wish to apply white icing to the cake, follow the same steps as above and smooth carefully. You’ll need to apply a thin layer of jam to the top of the marzipan to help the icing stick. When trimming and finishing, gently fold the icing where it meets your work surface to create a neat edge around the bottom.
If you wish to ice only the top of your cake, use a cake board the same size as your cake as a template for marzipan and icing. Then, just brush the top of the cake with jam and place the marzipan on top, brush the marzipan with jam and place your icing circle on top. Finish the cake with a festive ribbon.
I like to use Lustre Dust to add gentle shimmer to decorations. I cut some stars from the icing and, using a dry, clean paintbrush, applied a little gold lustre before arranging them on the cake and securing in place with a dab of vanilla extract. Lustre Dust is available in lots of colours so you can experiment as much as you like.
With the fully iced cake I chose a festive ribbon and a plastic holly decoration to keep things classically simple.
I also made some Christmas cake cupcakes. I used the same mixture as with the large cake but cooked them for a shorter time (around 40 minutes), fed them with rum and decorated them really simply with marzipan cut with a round cutter and icing cut in the same way with a star cut from the centre. It gives a lovely two-tone effect.
So, there you have it; a quick tutorial to inspire you to decorate your Christmas cakes at home. If you made a cake this year, why not send me a photo and I’ll upload it to my Facebook Page
I hope you have a fantastic Christmas whatever you are doing and I’ll be back in the new year with lots more recipes for you to try!
Linds Hall runs Pixie Hall Cakes in Fakenham and can be found selling her delicious baking at Fakenham Farmers’ Market on the 4th Saturday of each month.
Photographs by Keith Osborn Photography