Festive treats

Festive treats

Lucy Cufflin
6 recipes
Published by
Hardie Grant Books
Jacqui Melville

Christmas is a time of gatherings, parties and socialising, seeing friends and family and what could be better than having something homemade to share with everyone?

This chapter includes a step-by-step guide on how to marzipan, ice and decorate that all important Christmas cake and some ideas to give your favourite year round recipes a festive twist.

Homemade treats can make wonderful gifts so plan ahead, bake and make, wrap and ribbon and enjoy the festive season.

How to marzipan and flat-ice a rich fruit cake

Lucy LT shares her expertise: you need to get the basics right. To use an analogy – if you don’t wear the right underwear it doesn’t matter how fantastic the outfit is, you’ll still have lumps and bumps where you don’t want them. The same goes when you marzipan and flat- ice a cake!

Handy tips

–For a neat rim to your cake, make sure the baking paper is pushed right into the corners of the tin.

–For the glaze, sieve 120 g of apricot jam into a small saucepan, add 15 g water and bring to the boil.

–Put the marzipaned cake onto an upside-down cake tin or saucepan – it’s much easier to ice off the board.

–Keep your equipment and work surface completely dry when rolling out on icing sugar. You can also use cornflour – it’s less sticky than icing sugar, but brush off any excess as it is not pleasant to eat.

–For clean and sharp edges to the marzipan and icing, keep the blade of the knife clean and dry.

–For a taller-looking cake, put the cake on a thick cake board of the same diameter, then marzipan and ice over this. (Also useful if you are stacking cakes.)

–Use different sized and coloured boards stacked up to create interesting bases for your cake.

–If using ribbon to tie round your cake, use the same ribbon around the edges of the cake board to carry your colour scheme through to the base.

–If it’s a celebration, decorate your knife with ribbon to match the cake.

What you’ll need

–knife with a long blade (such as a bread knife)

–tin the cake was cooked in

–cake board 5 cm larger than the cake if you want to feature the board, or 2.5 cm larger (to allow for the marzipan and icing) if you want it to be almost concealed (when stacking for instance)


–apricot jam

–small saucepan

–pastry brush

–1 kg marzipan (almond paste)

–1 kg ready-to-roll icing (fondant)

–icing sugar or cornflour, for dusting

Marzipan and flat-ice a rich fruit cake step-by-step

1. If the cake is not flat on top, put it back into its tin. With a long knife and a gentle sawing motion, use the tin as a guide to level off the cake.

2. Take the cake out the tin and place on a cake board on an upturned tin. Measure the cake circumference and diameter with a piece of string and put knots in it to mark the size.

3. Using the knotted string as your guide, roll the marzipan to just longer than the required length and a little wider than cake height. For ease, use 2 shorter lengths and half the circumference each when rolled.

4. Brush the sides of the cake with hot apricot glaze. Trim the marzipan strips so they have straight edges then gently roll them up.

5. Press the end of one marzipan strip onto the cake and unroll, gently flattening it onto the cake. Do the same with the other. Trim the ends where they meet.

6. With a gentle sawing motion, trim off the top of the excess marzipan. Cover the top of the cake in the same way, remembering to brush the cake surface with hot apricot glaze before covering with the marzipan.

7. Remove the cake board from under the cake so that it lies flat on the upturned cake tin. Using a piece of string, measure the cake from the base of one side to the other

8. Using the string as your guide, roll out icing a little larger than needed. Lightly brush the marzipan with boiled water to help it stick, and using your rolling pin to lift, drape the icing over the cake.

9. With dry hands dusted with icing sugar, ease the icing onto the sides of the cake, smoothing as you go. Take care not to pull it too much as you don’t want to tear it.

10. Lightly ‘polish’ the surface using small, circular motions with well dusted hands all over the top and down the sides. Gently ease the icing in at the base so it sticks evenly to the sides.

11. Trim the excess all round the base of the cake using a sharp knife. Gently polish again to make sure everything is evenly smooth and adhered to the marzipan.

12. Transfer to the cake board and cover with a clean tea towel. Ideally, if there’s time, leave it for 24 hours for the icing to firm up before adding your final decorations. When decorated, store in an upside-down, airtight container.

Festive cake decorating

Cake decorating has moved on from the stiff and slightly formal icing confections of a few years ago – just put ‘cake decorating’ into an internet search and you can spend hours (days, even) marvelling at the sheer variety of shapes, colours and designs. They can still be fantastic works of art but cakes are now more about fun, creativity and flair rather than proficiency with the piping bag. Supermarkets now carry a great range of cake decorating accessories and, if you haven’t a cake decorating shop locally, the internet can provide you with more colours and flavours than you could shake a rolling pin at. The confectionery aisle is also a great place to find fun – and often edible – trimmings. These cakes are the other Lucy’s creative work – they’re ingenious!

Just a quick safety note: it may be tempting to stick dress-making pins into cakes to fix ribbons etc., but don’t as someone might swallow one by mistake. Pins can be pushed into the cake board, but only ‘food grade’ bits – cocktail sticks or cake dowelling – should be used for fixing decorations to the cake itself. A little blob of royal icing is often a good option.

Recipes in this Chapter

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