Only four sleeps to go until Christmas Day! I’m like a small child, I’m soooo excited. I absolutely love this day as I think the crisp winter chill brings people even closer together, huddled by the fire whilst drowning in wrapping paper and over indulging in treats.
Although, I have to admit I do worry alot about the big day in the run up to it. I’m a sucker for stressing all year round let alone christmas. It’s been a brain ache sorting out gifts as I like to buy things that have sentiment as well as being a present that someone actually needs. Every year it’s so hard to buy for my Dad as he always buys himself everything he wants when he wants it.
Deciding what Christmas treats to bake was chaos too!!! Because I spend Christmas Eve with my Mum and Christmas day with my Dad I have to come up with desserts that can be made ahead and everyone will like. This year I settled on some christmas bakewell tarts and a trio of macarons. Ofcourse we will also have Mum’s christmas cake which if you read part 1 of this post you’ll understand why I didn’t make it myself.
But it’s all ok because I’ve had this little christmas cake to nurture. It has been like looking after a small baby! What with feeding it with essential spirits for development of the musky cognac that unifies with the deep treacle, caramel like sugars and the pungent plump, juicy fruits. And then swoddling the whole thing in blankets of marzipan and soft fondant to keep it cosy over the winter period. In fact… my cake baby is one month old today. The idea of making a cake a month before the delivery date has played with my conscience a little as I’m so used to trying to make orders close to the day of delivery so that they’re as fresh as possible.
The christmas cake process is a long one however, most this time the cake is left alone to allow all the flavours to meld together. The process for you and I isn’t very laborious at all and it’s for that reason that I think it’s really nice to make a christmas cake during the hustle of the festive period. You can take a step back from the planning and organising and relax whilst you calmly create this delectable center piece.
The customer didn’t specify any sort of decoration she only asked that the cake was covered in fondant. So it was literally like being left with a blank canvas to let my imagination scribble all over. I’ve spent the last month dreaming up hundreds of designs. What was important for me was to produce something really elegant and sophisticated that looked intricate but, was actually simple to create and didn’t require alot of special cake decorating equipment. I was so proud that my design actually came to life how I had envisaged. I’m just really hoping the customer will be as pleased as I am with the cake.
(This recipe makes a 7 inch cake, perfect for those having a quiet christmas. But, don’t be fooled, you will still get a good 12-16 slices out of this cake depending on how much space you have after turkey and brussels of course).
- tbsp apricot jam
- tbsp water
- 454g pack of golden marzipan
- icing sugar
- 10inch cake board
- 750g-1kg white fondant
- approximately 50-75g royal icing
1. In a small pan stir together the apricot jam and tablespoon of water before heating it until it begins to boil. Once it has reached a boil strain it through a sieve to remove any lumps and then set aside to cool.
2. Dust a clean work surface with icing sugar and then roll out the marzipan into a rough circle 1/2cm thick. It needs to be large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake along with excess that overhangs the cake to make it easier to mould the marzipan to the sides of the cake without creases forming.
3. Upturn the cake onto a cake board so that the flat, underneath is now the top. Brush the whole cake with a thin layer of jam (it just acts as a glue) before carefully lifting the marzipan over the cake. Slowly smooth the marzipan to the sides of the cake moving your hands down the sides inch by inch. To prevent creases forming flair the excess overhanging marzipan like a big skirt and then use your hands to smooth the icing over the cake. Level the marzipan with a cake smoother until your happy that the sides are nice and straight.
4. Wrap the cake loosely in clingfilm and then tin foil before placing the cake in an airtight tin. Leave the cake for 2-7 days before covering with fondant.
5. Repeat step 2 using the white fondant, uncover the cake and lightly brush with water so that the fondant will stick. You don’t want to make the marzipan sodden just slightly tacky on the surface. Repeat step 3 and cover the cake with the rolled fondant.
6. Now it’s really up to you how you decorate your christmas cake however, below I have placed some photos along with an explanation of what I did to decorate mine.
To make these reindeers I ordered some cardboard reindeers off the internet that I could use as a template to cut out of fondant mixed with a little gum tragacanth. Once the reindeers were cut… which was quite fiddly I stored them in an airtight box whilst they hardened.
I then sprinkled them with edible gold lustre and brushed this in with a paintbrush. I kept adding the gold lustre until I was happy with the shade.
To make the royal icing sieve it onto a large baking tray. Dip a palatte knife in water and use it to stir through the royal icing. Keeping dipping the knife in water and then mixing the fondant until you have a smooth, shiny paste. It’s at the correct consistency to pipe with if you can make peaks with the icing and the tips of the peaks fold over once made.
I must admit before piping this design onto the cake I practised many times on templates I made out of greaseproof paper. But, once I was happy I lightly carved the rough pattern into the fondant using a small ball tip confectioners flower tool.
I used the thinnest piping nozzle I had to pipe the royal icing detail onto the cake. I then left it to dry in a cake box. Once the royal icing was set I mixed the gold lustre with gin (or you could use vodka) to make a thick paintable consistency and carefully retraced the lines I had piped the day before with the gold paste and a paintbrush. Once completed I left the cake to dry in the box for another day.