For about the last five years my Mum has made the Christmas cake and I have decorated it. I thought that this would be a fun job but actually it’s very tricky. White icing is troublesome when you have a brown cake!
How to Ice a Fruit / Christmas Cake
First make or buy a fruit cake – Delia Smith can always be trusted for these style of classic recipes. Be warned if you are making the cake yourself it needs to be left at least a month to mature. It’s also recommended that you can “feed” the cake during this period, which is basically sprinkling it with brandy or rum every so often which makes the cake even richer and more moist.
Once you have your cake you need to get you icing ingredients and equipment:
- Marzipan (white or yellow)
- Royal Icing (it is possible to make your own but the shop bought is fine)
- Icing Sugar
- Apricot Jam (I actually use crab apple jelly because I make it and always have it around)
- Egg White
- Decorations – Food Colouring, Edible Glitter, Gold Balls
- Rolling Pin
- Pastry Brush
- Cookie Cutter of Your Choice
The first thing that you need to do is to make sure that all of you surfaces are clean; of course this needs to be done for hygiene but when you are using white icing there cannot be any crumbs!
Make sure that you surface is now dry, sprinkle it with icing sugar and roll out you marzipan. Once the marzipan is about 3mm thick brush the surface of the cake with the jam which you have heated to loosen it. (I always put it in the microwave but be warned it gets hot very quickly).
Use the cake tin that you cooked the cake in as a template for your marzipan. I always do the top first and as I use a loose based tin and its easy to slip the marzipan onto the disc to transfer to the cake. Once the top is securely on measure the depth of your cake (how tall your cake is) for the sides. It doesn’t have to be exact but make sure that you are generous as you can always trim it. I always do this in a few sections but it’s probably better if you can do it in one. Transfer the marzipan onto the cake and make sure that there are no gaps where it joins to the top.
To be safe, clean your surface – it may be a bit of a hassle but it’s nowhere near as bad as crumbs in your beautifully white icing!
On your sparkly clean surface, sprinkle lightly with icing sugar (if you put too much on it’ll dry out your icing) and roll out you royal icing to about 3mm. This can be done in one piece – the way that the icing moulds and moves is strangely satisfying. Be generous with your icing as the trimmings will be used later. Transfer your icing carefully onto your cake, press lightly out from the middle to get rid of any air bubbles. You should be able to gently encourage the icing to fit into place. Once it’s completely covered your cake trim the bottom.
Now to let you imagination go wild! Cut out your shapes in the left over icing and place on your cake using a brush of egg white as glue.
TIP: to get strong colours your have to use the paste food colouring