Designed by the queen of couture cakes Mich Turner, this novelty Christmas cake is the perfect alternative to traditional fruit cake. Mich is famous for her eye-catching designs, so this festive delight is sure to be a real crowd-pleaser.
While a classic Christmas cake recipe calls for plenty of sherry or brandy, this vanilla flavoured sponge is perfect for kids and teetotalers alike. It’s much lighter than old fashioned Christmas cake, so there should always be space to squeeze a slice in. If you’re short on time, skip the penguin and stick to the figgy pudding design.
- 150g unsalted butter
- 150 grams golden caster sugar
- 3 eggs (lightly beaten)
- 150g self raising flour
- Fresh milk
- Vanilla natural extract
- 1 vanilla pod
- Oiled apricot jam
- Finest quality marzipan
- Icing sugar
- Madagascan vanilla white icing
- Bronze lustre
- Dark brown colouring paste
Additional ingredients - for the penguin
- Petal paste (light brown)
- Petal paste (white)
- Sugar paste (white)
- Black food colouring
- Orange food colouring
- Stick of Spaghetti (broken to give a 6cm piece and a 3cm piece)
- Add the butter into a mixing bowl. The butter should be at room temperature to give you a fluffy mix on the cake. Then add caster sugar and mix. Now lightly beat 3 eggs in a bowl and add them to the mix.
- The next stage is to add the self raising flour into the batter, and then using a spatula carefully fold the flour into the mixture before adding a few tablespoons of fresh milk.
- To infuse the vanilla flavouring, add some of your vanilla natural extract and then take one vanilla pod and with a knife slice down the length of the pod. Then, with a flexible blade held at a 45° angle, push away from you down the vanilla pod. The seeds will collect on the knife, which you should then add to the mix. Bake the cake in the oven at 160°C/320°F/Gas Mark 4 for about an hour and 10 minutes.
- Once the cake has been baked and cooled, cut off the crust and turn it upside down onto a cake board, and brush the cake with boiled apricot jam.
- Take the marzipan and knead it until it is malleable and has warmed up but is not sticky. Then flip it over to form a ball and then cover the worktop in icing sugar ready to roll it out.
- Roll out the marzipan to a thickness of 3 to 4mm and then place over the surface of the pudding, allowing the marzipan to fall. Gently press the marzipan into position all the way around before trimming off the excess around the cake.
- Take the vanilla sugar paste and colour it using the dark brown colour paste, kneading the colour in. Brush the cake with brandy before rolling out the sugar paste, aiming for a thickness of 3-4mm.
- Add the sugar paste layer in the same way as with the marzipan, cutting off the excess around the cake again.
- Use a second pack of the vanilla sugar paste, knead it and roll it out into a smaller circle before cutting out the curvy shape using a knife. This will create an interesting iced texture onto the pudding, and should be added to the top of the pudding with a brush of brandy.
- To create the golden holly leaves, colour some vanilla sugar paste with a teddy bear brown colour paste and roll it out to a thickness of 2 to 3mm and use a holly leaf shaped cutter to make 3 leaves and position them on top of the cake.
- Brush the leaves with a golden lustre to add some Christmas sparkle, and then use the same sugar paste to create the cluster of berries. Brush these with the gold lustre too.
- To create the snowflakes, roll out some of the left over white vanilla sugar paste and use a snowflake cutter.
- To make the penguin, first shape the wooden spoon from the light brown petal paste, then leave it to set hard. Next, knead the white petal and white sugar pastes together thoroughly, then divide into 3 portions, weighing 90g (31/2oz), 40g (11/2oz) and 30g (1oz). Colour the largest portion black and the smallest portion orange, and leave the middle one white. Now mould the different- coloured pastes into the body parts, as shown: head, body, flippers and eyes in black; beak and feet in orange; hat, eyes and tummy (using the round cutter) in white.
- Place the orange feet together and brush the back of them with a little sugar glue. Press the body down onto the feet to secure. Brush the body with sugar glue and fix the white tummy into position. Insert the 6cm (21/2in) length of spaghetti into the body.
- Fix the penguin’s flippers into position from the back of the body, making sure that the flippers are folded gently outwards from the body.
- Fix the head into position on top of the spaghetti. Fix the eyes and beak into position with sugar glue.
- Insert a 3cm (11/4in) length of spaghetti into the top of the penguin’s head and fix the chef’s hat into position with sugar glue. Finish by inserting the wooden spoon into the penguin’s body so it sits by his flipper and fix the penguin in position at the front.
Top tips for making this novelty Christmas cake
Switch up the colours and use red and green sugarpaste to make the holly leaf design.
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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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