DECORATING THE CHRISTMAS CAKE
Icing Process: One week before serving the Christmas Cake take it from the tin and remove all the paper and foil – this is to now wrap the cake in a layer of marzipan, before putting the cake back into storage. Then, a few days before serving, the cake is removed once again from the tin, to cover over the marzipan layer in a white, Royal Icing wrap.
The marzipan is done first, a week beforehand, so that the oils from the cake, seeping into the marzipan, can dry out; this means it does not stain the outside layer of white icing when it is put on. However, if you are putting the marzipan and the icing layer both on in one go, only a day or two before serving, this should be fine.
marzipan and icing comes in ready made blocks, or you can make it up.
- 50g of a smooth apricot jam
- 500g to 1kg of marzipan, depending on the size of the Christmas Cake
- 500g to 1 kg of instant royal icing, depending on the size of the Christmas Cake
- Icing Sugar (powdered sugar) to ‘flour’ the work surface
- various edible cake decorations and cutters of your choice
If you are completely covering the cake you can now make the base of the cake (which should be perfectly flat from being baked in the cake tin) the top of the cake by turning it over.
In a small saucepan warm the apricot jam (make sure it is the smooth kind without any peel etc.) over a low heat. Place the cake upside down on a cake stand or chopping board – something that you can move around to get to all sides of the cake. Using a brush, brush the Christmas Cake all over the top and sides with the warm and runny apricot jam, so a sticky coating is created.
Tip: Make sure your work surface is well ‘floured’ in icing sugar (powdered sugar) so the marzipan and icing do not stick when rolled out.
Roll out the marzipan on a work-surface dusted with icing sugar (powdered sugar). Roll out to about 3mm thick and large enough to drape over the cake fully. Lay it on top of the cake, smooth it down, cut the corner flaps off (merge the cuts together seamlessly) and trim off any excess marzipan. Go around the cake smoothing and merging the edges of the marzipan together to remove any seams.
Press the marzipan sheets down so that it sticks to the cake by adhering to the apricot jam. Make everything smooth so that when the Royal Icing wrap goes on it will not be bobbly. Leave it dry for an hour or two. When satisfied wrap the cake up in clean grease-proof paper and foil and put back into the air tight cake tin. Leave for a week – unless doing both layers, marzipan and royal icing, at the same time.
After a week remove the cake and place it on a cake stand or chopping board as previous. Leave it dry off for an hour.
On a clean work surface dusted with icing sugar (powdered sugar) roll out the instant block of Royal Icing. You can make your own Royal Icing up, buy a packet of powdered Royal Icing and follow the instructions on the box. Roll the Icing out so that it is about 3mm thick and it is a sheet which is much larger than the cake. You might need to beat and knead the icing to make it pliable before rolling.
Use a knife to cut out a large square or round shape (depending on the shape of the cake) so that when the Royal Icing sheet is draped over the cake it will fall over the top and down the sides, completely covering the cake. Carefully cover the cake with the icing sheet and make it conform to the shape of the cake, trim off any excess around the bottom of the cake carefully with a knife.
Cut the corner flaps off carefully, neatly and as close to the corner as possible in a straight vertical cut. You can then stretch and merge the cut corners together, use a little warm water to ‘fuse’ the seams together making a seamless corner once more.
Work with the icing smoothing it and pressing it down so that it hugs the shape of the cake and layer of marzipan beneath. Clean, warm hands rubbed over the cake will help smooth the icing and produce a shine. If any breaks or tears occur use some of the excess icing and patch it up using a little water which will, with a bit of work, fuse together seamlessly.
Roll out the excess trimmed icing and use a pastry cutter to cut out Christmas shapes, like stars and trees, to decorate the Christmas Cake. If you use a little bit of cold water they will stick to the cake. You can get as artistic as time, inclination and talent permits in icing a Christmas Cake, although an elegant and plain iced cake does look special. You can also wrap it with an attractive bought cake bow or ribbon and ready made decorations etc.
In the photo the Christmas Cake has been decorated very simply, but you can do what you wish on the blank canvas of an iced cake – use coloured decorations/ icings, ribbons, plastic decorations etc. …
Leave to dry and set and then store it as it is in the air tight tin until you are going to serve it a few days later.