Kate Clarkson of YORKCakes and YORK Cookery School shares her top tips for decorating your Christmas cake
Christmas cakes come in many guises; from the traditional iced fruit cake to sparkly cupcakes. At YORK Cookery School, I hold several workshops and master classes on cake decoration as well as baking.
One of the main questions I’m asked is how to cover a cake with icing. I’ve outlined the basics below and if you follow the steps, you’ll be able to create your own iced fruit cake in time for Christmas.
You will need:
A round fruit cake
A round cake drum (at least three inches wider than your cake)
Marzipan (enough to cover your cake – check the packet for guidance)
Ready to roll icing in white (as above)
Apricot jam (the kind with no pieces of fruit in it)
A large rolling pin
Your choice of cutter for the decoration
- Remove your fruit cake from its wrapping and place it into the centre of a cake drum
- Coat your cake with a layer of apricot jam – this will help the marzipan to stick to your cake. Use either a pastry brush or a palette knife to apply the jam but watch that you don’t leave any bristles behind!
- Remove your marzipan from the pack(s) and knead it until it’s smooth and pliable – a little icing sugar should prevent it from sticking to the surface. Using a rolling pin, roll out enough marzipan to cover the top of your cake into a circle shape and place onto the cake smoothing with your hands or a smoothing tool. The marzipan should be approximately 4-5mm thick.
- Now take a larger piece of marzipan and roll into a sausage shape using your hands. Place the marzipan onto the surface so that it points straight ahead of you and roll it so that it is long enough and wide enough to cover the sides of your cake. Trim one side so that your have a straight line and apply the piece around your cake. Smooth again and trim any excess using a sharp knife.
- To apply the icing, you should first knead it so that it’s soft and pliable and then roll it into a large circle – wide enough to cover the top and both sides of your cake. Simply add together the height of your cake (twice – for both sides!) and the width – H+W+H to find the diameter you need. Using a little clear alcohol (vodka is ideal), paint the marzipanned cake so that the whole surface becomes tacky. Lift the icing using your rolling pin and carefully place over the top of the marzipanned cake. Smooth the top first and gently ease the icing down the sides using your hands. Trim away any excess using a sharp knife.
- Finally, apply the cut-out decorations of your choice using a clean, small paintbrush and a little water and then add some sparkles!
I hope you have a great Christmas! Happy caking!
- To learn how to achieve perfect results every time and some of the tricks of the trade, try signing up for one of Kate’s workshops
- For full details of the classes and to see what’s coming up, go to the Cooking Rooms website