Christmas Cake Guide: How to Marzipan and Ice your Christmas Cake

So your cake has been swimming in booze and is finally ready for the next stage… Adding the marzipan layer and icing.

Before any icing takes place you will need to cover the cake with a thick layer of marzipan. As well as giving a lovely almond flavour to the cake, the thick paste creates a cushion between the cake and the icing and traps moisture in the cake to stop it staling. The traditional coat of almond icing (marzipan) should be put on the cake a week before you want to ice it, to allow its oiliness to dry out before icing.

You will need approximately 1.25 kg /2 ½ lbs almond paste for a 23 cm /9” cake

  • 25 kg/2½ lbs marzipan, almond paste, ready rolled if you prefer
  • 4 tbsp apricot jam, warmed
  • Icing sugar for rolling
  1. Stand the cake on a cake board or cutting board and lightly dust with sifted icing sugar and roll the almond paste evenly into a circle large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake (you can cover the bottom as well if you wish).
  2. Paint all surfaces of the cake to be covered with the runny apricot jam (this is the glue to make the paste stick to the cake). Slip the circle of paste onto the cake and pat carefully all over the surface to make sure it is stuck to the cake. Check that the surface is smooth and even and also trim away any excess.
  3. Leave to dry in a cool, but not ice cold, place uncovered for a few days up to one week.

You may find these helpful

Natural Essence Of Almond 28ml Non stick rolling pin 16 inch
Natural Essence of Vanilla
28ml £1.59
PME Non Stick Rolling Pin
16inch £19.99

The Icing – Fondant or Royal?

Traditionally, glossy royal icing would be used to cover a Christmas cake but unless you are a skilled decorator it can be tricky to use. If you want to simply make a snow effect on the surface (which can then be dressed up with cake decorations) then this is the best icing to use.

Using fondant icing is an easy and quick way to create a smooth, iced surface for your cake. It is rolled and placed on the cake in a similar way to the marzipan. You can use it alone, or with the marzipan layer and even finish with a splash of royal icing if you are feeling a little decadent. Fondant icing is also useful for cut out shapes to decorate the surface of the cake. There are hundreds of small cutters in different shapes to use or if you want to be artistic then cut out your own shapes with a sharp knife.

Royal Icing

  • 3 egg whites
  • 1lb 2oz/ 550g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp glycerine

With an electric hand whisk, lightly beat the egg whites in a large roomy bowl. Gradually sift in the icing sugar beating all the time. Continue to beat until you have thick stiff white peaks, expect this to take between 8 and 10 minutes.

  1. Add the glycerine and give the mixture one last whisk.
  2. The icing can now be spread over the almond paste covered cake with either flat palette knife and smoothed to create a clean surface or use the knife to lift up little peaks all over the cake. Decorate as you wish with silver or gold sugar balls, Christmas ornaments, whatever takes your fancy.
  3. Leave to dry and the icing to set hard (at least overnight up to two to three days) before serving. If not serving immediately, store in an airtight tin.

You may find these helpful

Dr Oetker Glycerine Straight Palette Knife 6in Dr Oetker Soft Silver Pearls
Dr Oetker Glycerine
38ml £1.39
Straight Palette Knife 6in
£6.99
Dr Oetker Soft Silver
Pearls £1.39

Fondant Icing – For a 9” cake

  • 1½ lb /675g icing sugar, plus extra for rolling
  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 tablespoon liquid glucose (available from Lawsons)

Sift the icing sugar into a large roomy bowl. Add the glucose and 3 egg whites and mix thoroughly until a smooth dough is formed.

  1. Place the dough on a surface, lightly dusted with icing sugar and knead the dough for 10 minutes.
  2. Cover the bowl and leave the dough to rest for 20 minutes.
  3. Dust the work surface with icing sugar and evenly roll the smooth dough to a circle large enough to cover the cake.
  4. Brush the remaining egg white over the almond paste surface of the cake. Lay the icing over and gently pat into place. Trim away any excess.
  5. To Finish – Use off-cuts of fondant icing to create cut-out shapes (leaves, stars, hearts, the choices are endless) and stick using egg white for glue.
  6. Finish in any way you wish – tie a large red ribbon around the outside, a sprig of holly on top – you decide.
  7. Leave to dry and the icing to set hard (at least overnight up to two to three days) before serving. If not serving immediately, store in an airtight tin.

You may find these useful

Dr Oetker Liquid Glucose 140g Set of 3 Snowflake Fondant Plunger Cutters Club Green Small Holly Leaf/Berry Spray
Dr Oetker Liquid Glucose
140g £2.39
Set of 3 Snowflake Fondant
Plunger Cutters £3.99
Club Green Small Holly
Leaf/Berry Spray £0.20

Next week we’ll be giving you nifty tricks with turkeys and other top tips to help make your Christmas dinner go with a swing!

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