My Christmas cake has been maturing for the last few weeks. The next stage is to cover it with almond paste. This should be done a week or two before Christmas so that the almond paste has time to dry before adding the icing which itself needs time to dry.
Our family loves almond paste so I cover the top and sides. Use half quantities if you are just covering the top of the cake.
- 12 oz ground almonds
- 12 oz icing sugar
- 1 egg lightly beated
- juice from a lemon
- apricot jam
Mix the ground almonds and icing sugar together in a bowl. Stir in the egg and add enough lemon juice to make a stiff dough. Knead the dough lightly.
Unwrap your Christmas cake – take a moment to enjoy the wonderful smell – and place it on a cakeboard. I use one I’ve had for several years and just replace the tinfoil.
If you like you can cut some from the top of the cake to make it level.
Using a paintbrush coat the tops and side of the cake with apricot jam (remove any lumpy pieces from the jam).
Divide the almond paste into two equal pieces. Then subdivide one of these into two.
Measure round the cake with a piece of string.
Dust the surface where you are working with icing sugar to stop the paste from sticking.
Roll out one of the quarters of almond paste so that it is the as long as half the string and as wide as the height of the side of the cake. Do the same with the other quarter piece.
Carefully pick up the rolled-out paste and push onto the side of the cake. Add the other piece as well. You can push the edges together where they meet using a round edged knife. If you have a gap, then squash a spare piece of paste into it, or take a piece from where it is thicker.
Roll the remaining half of paste into a circle the size of the top of the cake. Carefully lift it onto the cake and push the edges down onto the almond paste at the side.
Don’t worry if it is not completely smooth – you can smooth it out with the icing.
I’ve put my cake in a cardboard cake box to keep the dust off and placed it in a cool room. You can put the cake into an airtight container if you have one.
Leave the almond paste to dry for at least twenty-four hours – I’m leaving mine a week – so that oil from the almonds doesn’t leak out and turn the icing yellow.
While you are waiting for the almond paste to dry out, you can decide on how you will be decorating the cake using royal icing.
This recipe was adapted the 1972 edition of Good Housekeeping’s Easy-Stages Cook Book.