A lone handsome polar bear atop a snowy mountain, surrounded by shards of electric blue ice.
This striking polar bear cake is easier to decorate than it looks. Rough textured royal is simple to spread and creates an impressive snowscape, while the blue ice chips are made using a deceptively simple hack. The base is made using a classic Christmas cake recipe, but can easily be made child-friendly by switching out the alcohol for orange or grape juice.
- For the cake
- 850g (13⁄4lb) mixed dried fruit
- 75g (21⁄2oz) candied peel
- 100g (31⁄2oz) glace cherries, washed, dried and chopped
- 4tbsp brandy or rum, plus extra for soaking
- 250g (9oz) unsalted butter
- 250g (9oz) soft brown sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 250g (9oz) plain flour
- 1tsp grated nutmeg
- 1tsp mixed spice
- 45g (11⁄2oz) toasted flaked almonds
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 large orange
- 2tbsp black treacle
- For the royal icing and decoration
- 2tbsp apricot jam
- 500g pack marzipan, rolled out to 5mm (1⁄4in) thickness
- 45g (11⁄2oz) egg whites
- 300g (10oz) icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
- 200g pack Fox’s Glacier Mints
- Blue food colouring
- You will also need
- 20cm (8in) cake tin, greased and lined with 2 layers of baking parchment
- A polar bear toy or decoration (or make one from fondant icing)
The day before baking, mix the mixed fruit, candied peel and glacé cherries with the brandy or rum in a bowl, cover and leave overnight to absorb the liquid. If you’re in a rush, you can warm them together in a pan instead.
The following day, heat the oven to 140C/Gas 1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar together until pale in colour. Add the eggs a little at a time and combine. Sift over the flour and spices with a pinch of salt. Fold in the mixed spiced flour. Finally, add the almonds, zests and treacle, plus the soaked fruit. Mix until well combined.
Transfer the batter into the prepared cake tin and place in the oven to bake for 4 hrs 30 mins. If the top is starting to brown too much, put a sheet of foil on top. Check it’s cooked by inserting a skewer – it should come out without any uncooked batter on it. Leave the cake in the tin to cool.
When cold, remove from the tin, peel off the lining and make a few little holes evenly over the base with a skewer. Drip some more alcohol into your cake. Always carefully rewrap the cake in baking parchment and keep it airtight afterwards.
For the decoration, warm the jam and spread it over the top and sides of the cake. Lay the marzipan over the cake and smooth down using your hands.
Put the egg whites and icing sugar into the bowl of an electric mixer, cover the bowl with a tea towel, and mix with the paddle attachment on the lowest speed for 5 mins.
Spread the icing over the marzipan, using the back of a spoon or a palette knife to create a texture by pulling it away from the cake. Create a well on the top where you will pour the molten mints to create the ice.
Heat the oven to 160C/Gas 3. Put the mints in an ovenproof bowl and heat for 15 mins until melted but viscous. Remove from the oven and stir in a couple of drops of blue food colouring. Spoon a little bit of the mixture into the well on top of the cake, and pour the rest onto the centre of a large baking tray lined with parchment paper. Return the tray to the oven for 5 mins so the mixture spreads. Leave to cool and set, then pick up and drop from a small height to break into shards.
Arrange the shards on top of the cake, and place your polar bear on top to finish
Top tips for making this polar bear cake
Fancy yourself a dab hand with sugar paste? Switch out the polar bear model for one you make yourself. And if you're short on time, you could even switch out the fruit cake for a shop-bought base.