Part 1 – How to make your cake
Part 2 – How to marzipan your cake
This project started a couple of months ago when I promised one of my evening classes I would teach them how to decorate Christmas cakes. Today I finally finished decorating them. I really enjoyed this project and plan to given them away as presents, but right now don’t know which one I’m going to keep for us as I love them all for different reasons.
I have so many other decorating ideas, but only made 6 cakes so the other techniques will have to wait. They may be small cakes, but they still take a while to decorate. Each cake requires about 200g of sugar paste. The four cakes covered in sugar paste all use the covering method you can find on The Pink Whisk’s blog. I also brush the cake lightly with freshly boiled water to help the icing adhere. Usually I cover the board then cover the cake, this is personal preference. You don’t have to cover the boards at all, but I find it looks neater and I have a particular aversion to the Christmas themed foil boards. To stick the sugar paste/sugar florist paste decorations to the cake I use either gin or vodka as it’s quick drying, less likely to stain and sticks well. You can also use water, but I find gin/vodka works better. All of these designs are simple and can be easily replicated. No special equipment needed apart from maybe the odd length of ribbon and a piping bag. The cakes were made using one of my favorite recipes, steeped in Sloe Gin, then covered in marzipan over a week ago.
CHRISTMAS PRESENT CAKE
This is probably my favorite cake. It is simply covered in red sugar paste then decorated with a bow made from sugar florist paste. This is a type of modelling icing that has a finer, stretcher texture and allows you to roll it a great deal thinner than sugar paste. It also sets very hard. Icing flowers you see for sale are made from this and while yes it is edible it’s used more for decoration. I love working with sugar florist paste. Unless you are going to be using a lot just buy white florist paste and color your own.
To make the bow take two identical lengths of sugar florist paste. Fold one of the lengths over itself in the middle. This will be the loose ends of the bow. Place the folded part of this length in the middle of the cake. Take the other length and fold both ends to the middle and pinch together. Get a smaller length of sugar florist paste and wrap around the middle of the bow to give the illusion of a knot. This is the bow loops. Stick this on top of loose part of the bow.
HOLLY CUT OUT CAKE
The green from this cakes comes from the green marzipan layer. This time don’t brush the marzipan with water when adding the sugar paste as you’ll struggle to get the cutouts cleanly away from the marzipan. Cover the cake with sugar paste then using a holly cutter cut out the holly shapes. Using some water stick the remaining icing to the marzipan. Roll balls of red icing and stick in place with vodka.
This cake started out slightly different, hence the snowballs trimming the bottom of the cake, then I saw these beautiful Victorian inspired Ice Crystal Cakes cakes on Peggy Porchen and decided I had to give these a go. It is piped on using royal icing and the silver balls are great new ones from Dr Oetker that don’t break your teeth. If I was to do these cakes again I would keep the decorative snowflake, leave out the decoration on the side, then just trim the bottom of the cake with simple ribbon.
Possibly the easiest of the cakes. Simply covered in white sugar paste. Then I kneaded some gold luster dust into a small amount of sugar paste then once rolled out, dusted in edible glitter. Cut out the stars then stuck on with vodka. Edible glitter is always difficult to photograph. In real life this cake is very glittery! This is a very good cake to do if your icing has flaws. Stick a star over the cracks.
FLORENTINE TOPPED CAKE
No icing required here. Melt 15g butter with 15g golden syrup. Mix in 50g mixed fruit & nuts (Lidl do a particularly fantastic bag of fruit & nuts that I’ve used here). Spoon topping onto cake then leave to set. Trim with ribbon.
TRADITIONAL ROYAL ICING
Christmas isn’t Christmas without a Christmas cake topped with break-your-teeth royal icing. I use Royal Icing Sugar as it is easier and more convenient. For a 3 inch cake like these you need about 100g royal icing sugar and 15ml of water. Using an electric whisk whip until you have soft peaks. If it doesn’t reach soft peak stage, add more icing sugar a tbsp at a time. When spreading the icing on you can either make it smooth or go old school and make peaks in the icing to make it look like snow. To make the icing harder add a dash of lemon juice, to make it softer add a bit of glycerine. The robin comes from one of the cakes I made on Holly Bell’s cupcake course. Can you spot the foot prints in the snow? There were made with the end of a skewer.