Tuesday, 2 December 2008
As we have finally reached December and the weather is getting colder, I felt like I should be getting on with my christmas preparations. My christmas cake has been waiting patiently in the wings to be dealt with but to be honest, I have been putting it off.
As you may know, this is the first time I've ever made Christmas cake. I decided that it was about time I learned how to do it but it's still a bit of a challenge. The preparation and actual making of the recipe was fine with no problems... I also fed my cake for a few weeks with Sailor Jerry rum and drooled over (not literally) the smell coming from it.
So, it's time to begin the decoration. Traditionally Christmas cake is covered with marzipan and then iced and this year, I'm mostly sticking with tradition. As this cake is being cut into four piece to be given as gifts individually, I have a bit of a chance to play around with the designs. one of my brothers doesn't like icing and requested a fruit topped cake.
Anyway, marzipanning (not a real weird I'm sure) the cake was the first step and it was time to just do it. Here is a step by step guide of how I did mine. This is by no means a definitive guide but it is how I did it and it seems to have worked!
1. If you are icing a whole cake (because I'm sure you're not silly enough to want to make separate ones) then make sure the surfaces are flat. If you're silly like me then you need to cut your cake into equal pieces... I got Al to do ours and then I ate the crumbs...you have to taste these things!
2. Then you need to take your marzipan and roll it out on a clean flat surface dusted with icing sugar to prevent sticking. Now, I haven't got any measurments for you because I just guessed. I ended up using about 1 and a quarter packets of marzipan for my 4 squares (I utilised trimming and was left with a bit left over for eating after all the work was complete). I didn't really want the marzipan to be too thick as the cakes are quite small so it was rolled fairly thin.
3. Next, you need to cut a piece a little bigger than the top of your cake. Then, using some warmed, smooth apricot jam you need to paint the top of the cake and place the marzipan on top and trim the edges with a sharp knife (preferably sharper than the useless one I used).
4. Then, with more marzipan you need to cut a strip to go around the cake (I did mine with two strips and joined them so that I didn't have to deal with breakages). Again, using the jam, you need to "glue" the marzipan on and make sure there are no gaps then trim the edges.
5. Finally you need to smooth the marzipan over the cake and make sure the join between the top and sides as well as the joins with the side pieces are firmly joined.
I simply left the lip of the marzipan from the sides of the cake a little higher than for the plain cakes and made a decorative pattern with dried fruit (here I used figs, dates, cherries, papaya and pineapple) and glued them down with leftover jam.
You need to leave the cakes out for the marzipan to dry for a few days before icing them.