Usually - because I really do usually make a Christmas cake - I use fondant icing. The ready made kind that Mary Berry would disapprove of if you use it in the GBBO!
I roll it out in the same way as I did for the marzipan. Then to attach it to the marzipan you don't need more jam. Either brush the marzipan very lightly with some water - supposedly freshly boiled - or do what I do and use some vodka. It doesn't add any taste and evaporates away rather than making things soggy. Some say you can use brandy, but I would worry about the colour.
Once it is on the cake, ease it over in the same way as you did with your marzipan, trim and then decorate. You can find some inspiration here with the cake that I made last year.
Now, you will have noticed that I said that I usually use fondant icing and I am not showing you step by step how to use that, so I must have done something else this year.
Well, I did. I decided to take a jump in proceedings and do something new for me. I have used royal icing to decorate the cake. EeeekkK!!! Yes, I was scared!! I have never used royal icing before. I have iced cakes with buttercream, and made sort of water icing with regular icing sugar and water or lemon juice, but no royal icing.
Let me tell you, it is so much easier than you think it will be, and, assuming that it dries OK and tastes alright and doesn't turn out to be as hard as cement, I will be doing it again. This is the finished cake!
Let me explain how I got to this point. In England you can buy Royal Icing Sugar which is icing sugar with dried egg white powder already added. It is the addition of the egg white which makes it Royal Icing instead of any other sort of icing. If you cannot get Royal Icing Sugar, you can add Meringue Powder to the icing sugar.
Royal Icing dries to a much stiffer finish, can be piped and played with to make the shape you want and it will stay where you put it!
To start I put the whole bag of 500g into the bowl of my stand mixer with the whisk attachment fitted. Then I went a little off piste. Because I was worried about the icing being too hard, I added about a tablespoon of glycerine. You can buy this in the cake ingredients aisle.
My packet of Royal Icing Sugar said to add about 80ml of water. I was worried about adding too much, so I added cold water a tablespoon at a time while the mixer was on low. Make sure that you start out on a low speed, otherwise you will have sugar everywhere!
As I added more water the sugar started to form small lumps, I then increased the speed and added more water gradually until the mixture all came together as you can see above. I then whisked it on the highest setting for a couple of minutes to make it come together well and add some air to make it fluffy.
I wanted the cake to be quite plain and elegant. I was looking for something totally different from the cakes that I usually make. I found these little blue and white snowflake decorations - made of sugar - and decided to use these and only these on the cake.
To begin with I piled a large about of the icing on top of the cake and then using an offset spatula I gradually eased it towards the edge with a swirling motion. Once it seemed to be fairly even over the top I started to work it down the sides.
As I got further down the sides I was worried about making a mess, so I used a tiny teaspoon to just push it towards the bottom of the cake.
When it was all covered, I used a regular stainless steel spatula to smooth off the top of the cake. As I smoothed I put the excess icing back into my bowl. You don't want this icing to be too thick.
Then I needed to smooth the sides. To make the cake easier to turn, I stood it on a tin can. I first used the regular spatula to remove much of the excess and to try and get a flatish side.
After that I took a stainless steel bench scraper that I have. It is basically a square of metal with three straight edges and one that is folded over for a handle. I placed one edge on the cake board and the other up against the cake. Working slowly I then turned the cake board and held the scraper in place, gradually removing excess icing. Stop and put the excess icing back into your bowl periodically.
Once I had been round, I moved the scraper in closer to the cake and repeated a couple of times. I then repeated the smoothing of the top.
It is traditional to have the royal icing very smoothly finished. Then to add piped details. I knew though that I would not be able to achieve that look on my first go. Plus I didn't want lots of fussy piped details. I did though smooth the icing a little more by dipping my offset spatula into some hot water, dried off the spatula and then smoothed over, repeating as you have worked on an area. This too some of the bigger marks out.
Then I added the icing snowflakes that I had bought to decorate the cake. I was pleased with it, but at this point I realised two things. One, the gold cake board didn't really go, and secondly that my big Christmas Cake Plate wasn't going to go with the cake either. The plate I would normally use is all reds and greens.
Instead I got out this plate which is glass and which I have had for several decades now! It doesn't get used much so it was a good opportunity to give it an airing.
I put the cake on the plate and then used some of the excess icing to cover the cake board. It isn't quite the finish that I wanted, but it will be fine! This is a cake that is going to be eaten, it isn't for looking at!
There you have it. The Ta Dah! moment, one finished Christmas Cake!
I hope that I have inspired you to make a cake, and perhaps showed you some tips and techniques that will assist you. It really is easy to do and can be very simple and it is definitely cheaper than buying a Christmas Cake. I also think that doing this sort of thing connects us to the traditions of our Christmasses which is important.
Now, this all sounds well and good doesn't it. I do though have an addendum to this. I iced the cake when I was home alone. When Hubby - who is lovely and I love very much! - came home, he was rather nonplussed at the sight of this cake. After some probing, I found out that he didn't think it was Christmassy enough and was too plain. So since taking the photo above I have adulterated it and added silver icing dots, some little icing snowmen and a load of tiny snowflake sprinkles. Apparently it looks better now. I think it looks hideous so you will not be seeing a photo! Good job that I love him isn't it!!