Here’s a Christmas cake that’s as simple, classic, and polished as they come. Sugarpaste holly leaves and elegant writing are the finishing touches to this chic, uncluttered festive centerpiece.
You could make your own cake (Mary Berry’s Christmas cake recipe is a favourite for a reason), or you could save time by decorating a ready-prepared cake instead. Of course, you can always make your own sugarpaste and marzipan, but we find that shop-bought versions work just as well. Perfect for the less experienced decorator – although the writing does require a steady hand and is best practiced first.
- 20cm (8in) round fruit cake
- 4-6 level tbsp apricot glaze or sieved apricot jam
- 750g (1½lb) white marzipan
- 1kg packet white sugarpaste, eg, Regalice
- 2-3tbsp red-coloured royal icing
- 3-4tbsp brown-coloured royal icing
- 2-3tbsp red-coloured piping gel
- 1-2tbsp yellow-coloured piping gel
- 2-3tbsp green-coloured piping gel
- Approx. 23cm (11in) round, flat plate or cake drum
- Icing smoother and/or side scraper
- Small disposable piping bags
- No. 2 plain piping tube
- Approx. 80 x 5cm (31½ x 2in) wide red satin ribbon
- Approx. 80cm (31½in) corded braid
- Double-sided sticky tape
- Upturn the cake and place it centrally on a plate or cake drum. Warm the apricot glaze or jam and spread it over the top and sides of the cake.
- Knead the marzipan to soften it, and roll it out on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, so that it’s large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. Lift the marzipan over the cake and press down on the top, and then the sides, easing in any fullness. Use a small, sharp knife to trim away any excess marzipan around the base of the cake.
- Polish the surface of the marzipan flat, using an icing smoother and/or side scraper.
- Knead the sugarpaste to soften it, and roll it out on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Brush water over the surface of the marzipan and then lift the sugarpaste over the cake, as for the marzipan, and press it down over the top and sides, making sure that there aren’t any pockets of air trapped between the two surfaces. Trim away excess sugarpaste from around the bottom of the cake. Polish the surface of the sugarpaste smooth with the icing smoother and/or side scraper.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with the No. 2 piping tube with some red-coloured royal icing. Pipe an inscription on the cake.
- Fill a piping bag fitted with the No. 2 piping tube with brown-coloured royal icing and pipe the outlines for the poinsettia bracts, piping a short line in the centre of each bract. Pipe a group of circles for the centre of the poinsettia. Pipe holly leaves, with some lines in the centre of each leaf for the veining, and some circles for holly berries. Leave the cake to allow the royal icing to dry completely.
- Fill a piping bag with red-coloured piping gel and cut off the end of the bag to give a small hole. Piping in small, circular movements, fill in the poinsettia bracts and the holly berries with the gel. Use yellow-coloured piping gel to fill in the group of circles in the centre of the poinsettia, and green-coloured gel to fill in the holly leaves.
- Secure the red satin ribbon and the corded braid around the sides of the cake, using double-sied sticky tape where the ends of the ribbon overlap.
Top tips for making this festive cake
Although you can buy ready-coloured piping gel, we found it was cheaper to use clear gel and colour it using paste food colourings. Tartan or silver ribbons also work well, or you could use a coloured strip of sugarpaste
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Rosie Hopegood is a journalist, editor, and writer with many years of experience writing about lifestyle, including parenting, for a broad range of magazines and newspapers. Now based in Brooklyn, New York, Rosie has written for Daily Telegraph, Al Jazeera, The Observer, The Guardian, The Independent, Vice, Telegraph Magazine, Fabulous Magazine, Stella Magazine, Notebook Magazine, Saga Magazine, Reader’s Digest, Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Mirror, S Magazine, and Stella Magazine. She spent five years on staff at the Mirror, where she was Deputy Features Editor on the magazines team.
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