I was going to call this one 'How to Ice a Christmas Cake for people that don't know what they are doing - like me' but I decided it was too long.
I am really not a professional baker or cake decorator by any means but I do enjoy making cakes with as little hassle and frustration as possible. Here is a quick tutorial of what I did to decorate this years Christmas cake.
I started off by buying the fruit cake. I know this seems like the lazy option but realistically I thought it would be the guaranteed way that it would turn out well. In other years I have made the cake months in advance which is what you are supposed to do but I was just not organised this year. I also had to get a gluten free cake because a member of my family is allergic to gluten. I did not want to make a gluten free cake from scratch as I thought it would be a difficult thing to get right.
I got a cheap and cheerful marzipan to cover both cakes.
Then I just kneaded it for about a minute till it was soft enough to roll out. I put some icing sugar on the surface and the rolling pin so it wouldn't stick.
I rolled out the whole block into a circle a bit bigger than the actual cake. My home economics teacher at school taught me that if you turn the icing/marzipan 90 degrees after every up and down roll it will be a more or less perfect circle and won't stick to the surface.
Next I melted a little bit of strawberry jam so the marzipan will stick to the cake. I know traditionally you are supposed to use apricot jam but this was what I already had and if I bought apricot it will never get used till next year.
I melted the jam in the microwave instead of in a saucepan cause it was less washing up. I also just used the back of the spoon to spread it around the top and sides of the cake. You can use one of those pastry brushes if you want to be fancy, but I don't own one.
Putting the marzipan on if by far the hardest bit. You just need to get your whole hands and arms under it and plop it on. Sounds easy right? At the end of the day if you mess up it wont be seen under the icing.
Then I just cut of the extra and used it to cover the sides of the gluten free cake.
I left the marzipan on the cake to dry out for about a day before I started the icing. You don't really need to do this. I just thought it was easier when it was a bit harder.
For the royal icing I loosely followed a Mary Berry recipe. I used three egg whites, all the juice I could get out of this lemon and a ton of icing sugar. The recipe said 675g of icing sugar but I added a few extra spoonfuls. The recipe also says add glycerine but I left it out and it turned out fine. I think it just gives it more of a shine.
Apart from that I followed the recipe. I wanted to make sure the icing would hold it's shape so I added more icing sugar (you can't really add too much).
I spread the icing over the cake just using a butter knife. You can use one of those big pallet knifes but I found this just as easy.
I then used the tip of the knife to add this spiky affect and added some decorations.
For the other cake I went with this up and down wavy pattern. I just did by dragging the knife lightly though the icing.
I still need to find a nice board to put the cakes on but apart from that you just need to leave it to dry out for a bit then eat with mulled wine or a hot chocolate or whatever festive delight takes your fancy.
Baking and decorating doesn't always have to be really complicated as long as you are okay with cutting corners to get a similar result that no one is going to notice apart from Paul Hollywood.