It's nearly Christmas time, and that means time for Christmas baking! I have made two Christmas cakes this year for three reasons: 1) I like baking, 2) I wanted to do lots of cake decorating and 3) everyone in my family loves fruit cake. Christmas cake always goes down well.
I made my cakes back at the end of October as I like giving them time to mature. Normally they stay in the cupboard until about three days before Christmas when I finally get round to marzipanning and icing them, but because part of my cake icing class involved a Christmas project Christmas cake number 1 is now finished.
As usual, I used Delia Smith's recipe from her Complete Cookery Course book, amended like normal to contain the dried fruit I like best! I also omitted the almonds and used fruit juice instead of brandy. Unfortunately I didn't have (or thought I didn't have) any ground mixed spice when making the cake, so I added ginger and nutmeg in its place. I'm not sure what effect this is going to have on the taste, so am curious to taste the cake to find out. I then found out just recently that I did have ground mixed spice after all, it was just hiding at the back of the cupboard! I could have kicked myself for not finding it (I was sure I should have had it since I had obviously made this recipe before!) and am just hoping the cakes taste okay. They smelled good when I unwrapped them to decorate them, so fingers crossed.
I have learned a few tricks for icing the cake now! Any holes in the cake should be plugged with marzipan before putting the layer of marzipan on. In addition, the cake should be placed upside down on the cake board and if the bottom edge of the cake lies just above the board (due to the way the cake is a bit higher in the middle after cooking) put a long rope of marzipan around the base. Then cover the cake in apricot jam, then marzipan.
Once the marzipan has dried, roll out the icing (I used fondant icing rather than royal icing - I'm not keen on the hard royal icing) and then brush the marzipan with either white alcohol or water. Cover the cake in the icing and smooth. I recently bought a cake smoother and the difference it makes is incredible! This cake is the smoothest I've ever made!
I then left the cake to dry for a few days. I had already started to make some icing penguins using ready to roll fondant icing. Once the heads and bodies were quite dry (I made them separately) I stuck them together using cocktail sticks. I had also previously made some little parcels out of left over icing I had coloured and let them dry out.
So then all that remained was to place all the models on the cake. I put the penguins on first of all, then the presents, but it was still lacking something. Recently I treated myself to a little holly leaf cutter so a friend suggested that I add some holly to the sides. This made it look much more complete!
The final touch was some white, holographic glitter which I sprinkled all over so it looks like snow and frost is sparkling around the penguins.
Now it's just a case of keeping my fingers crossed that it tastes good!