The Christmas cake was iced a couple of days ago. I used royal icing and bought a couple of packs of it rather than making it from scratch.
I had help from my daughter and grandson – the same ones that made the cake with me.
To make the royal icing you just add water and beat it until smooth using a wooden spoon. We then poured it onto the top of the cake, trying out adding a ski slope but then just smoothing it on the sides using a round-ended knife.
Then the decorations. I had some modelling icing paste and we used that to make snowmen. We made a pond for the snowmen to stand around using icing sugar and blue food dye. Unfortunately we made the icing too thin so what started as a pond became a waterfall.
I had also bought some ready-made icing decorations.
As you can see we found it hard to stop adding more and more decorations – I don’t know who added the most – my daughter or my grandson!!
The cake is now in a cardboard cake box with the icing drying, ready to cut and eat on Christmas day. I can’t wait! Happy Christmas to everyone.
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
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.
It’s time to make a traditional fruit Christmas cake. I have made one with the recipe I have used for years. It is based on the recipe for Christmas cake from the 1972 edition of Good Housekeeping’s Easy-Stages Cook Book.
2 lb 2 oz (1 kg) mixed fruit made up of currants, sultanas, raisins, candied peel
6 oz glacé cherries cut into quarters
10 oz plain flour
1/2 level teaspoon mixed spice
1/2 level teaspoon ground cinnamon
10 oz butter – spreadable is easier for mixing
10 oz soft brown sugar
Prepare either an 8 inch or a 9 inch cake tin. The 8 inch will give you a taller cake. Grease the bottom and sides of the tin. Line the tin with greaseproof paper and re-grease. Make a band of brown paper round the outside of the tin and a couple of inches above the height of the tin. Tie in place.
Set the oven to 150 C. This can be cooked in an oven with or without a fan. With a fan reduce the temperature to 140 C.
Put the flour and spices in a bowl and mix together. Add the mixed fruit and cherries, and mix up so that the fruit is not lumped together and is covered in the spiced flour. Leave to one side.
In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar until the mixture is smooth. Add the eggs one at a time and beat into the mix.
Add the flour, spice and fruit, making sure they are well blended. The final mix should easily drop from the spoon when held above the bowl. If it is too stiff add a little milk.
Don’t forget to make a wish as you do the final mixing. Everyone who helped with the cake should make a wish.
Put the mix into the prepared cake tin, spreading it round evenly using a knife. Make a dip in the centre.
Put the cake into the bottom of the over for about 4 1/2 hours – mine took 4 hours this time. After two hours put a layer of either brown or greaseproof paper over the top to prevent the cake becoming over-browned. Check it is ready by inserting a fine skewer which should look quite clean as it is pulled out. If you are not sure leave it for an extra twenty minutes.
When cooked leave the cake to cool in the tin.
You can add brandy to the cake once it has cooled by pricking the cake all over and slowly pouring two or three tablespoons of brandy over the top. This can be done once the cake has cooled or after a couple of weeks. This can be repeated for a richer flavour.
To store the cake, wrap in greaseproof paper and then either place in an airtight tin or wrap in tinfoil.
The traditional almond paste and icing are added much nearer Christmas.
This year we had three generations making the cake – Nannie, Daughter and Grandson, so there were three Christmas wishes!