Discover Easy Ways to Decorate Your Christmas Cake
For many people Christmas time is a hectic round of shopping, cooking, writing cards and wrapping presents. And very often decorating the Christmas cake is left to the last minute, so here are some tips to help you along the way.
One of the quickest designs is a pattern using any of the following: semi-dried fruits, glace fruits, angelica, cherries and different types of nuts. But keep to three or four varieties, otherwise the design becomes too cluttered. If the top of the cake is rounded, cut off, and upturn the cake so the base becomes the top surface. Boil half a jar of apricot jam and press through a sieve. Brush the top surface of the cake with the jam, and cover with a design of fruit and nuts – a circular design for a round cake and straight lines for a square cake. To give the decoration an attractive shine (and to hold the fruit and nuts in place) brush over with jam, and lastly, tie a wide, red or green ribbon around the cake. A similar decoration can be made with marzipan fruits.
If you wish to spend slightly more time, decorate the top of the cake with soft icing, and as before, use ribbon, a cake frill, or a strip of Christmas paper to place around the sides. Again use the base of the cake as the top surface. Roll out sugarpaste (rollout icing) or marzipan, until it is slightly larger than the top of the cake – make sure the paste moves freely. Brush the top of the cake with apricot jam then upturn the cake onto the sugarpaste, and cut away the surplus paste. Place the cake on a cake board. Roll out a length of paste, approximately half inch deep, and cut a strip the same size. Moisten the paste around the edge of the cake and carefully position the strip on the moist surface. Make a design on this edging with cake crimpers – if you have them. Failing that, press the decorated handle of a spoon into the paste. Make an unusual decoration for the center of the cake by coloring some marzipan red and modeling it into a candle shape. Use a flaked almond for a flame, and then surprise everyone by lighting the almond on Christmas Day – as nuts contain oil the almond will flame for a few moments!
Make Christmas trees from a cone-shaped piece of green marzipan. Use sharp scissors and beginning at the top, make small snips all around the tree. Make snowballs from balls of sugarpaste, very slightly moistened and covered in castor, or granulated sugar. To make holly leaves, roll out the paste and cut into a diamond shape. The sharp points are made by cutting out sections from around the edge of the leaf, with either an icing nozzle or the tip / handle of a small spoon. Mark veins on the leaf with the back of a knife.
For those who wish to venture into the field of royal icing, a quick way to use this icing is by making a 'snow scene'. First, apply a layer of marzipan to the cake and leave to dry for two days. The traditional way of making royal icing is with egg white and icing sugar, but icing sugar is now available which already contains the correct quantity of dried egg white – however, the icing still needs a good beating!
Test the icing before applying to the cake. Using a palette, or table knife, apply the icing about half an inch deep to the cake. Then, using the flat surface of the knife makes a slow 'bounce' movement on the icing. The icing will stand in peaks if it is the correct consistency. Leave until firm and sprinkle with edible glitter for a sparkling cake. HAPPY Christmas