Today, I have something a little different for you. I made some Christmas cakes for presents this week and I attempted some fancy decorations on top, so I thought I would share these with you.
A few weeks ago there was a Christmas evening held in town, and there was a lady demonstrating some techniques for cake toppings. This is what hers looked like:
I'll start off with a brief look at a Christmas cake recipe, and then go on to the decorations.
1kg fruit - I use a mix of raisins, sultanas, dried cranberries, dates and currants.
350ml alcohol of your choice - rum, bourbon, brandy - or if you'd prefer not to use alcohol, you can use ginger beer/ale
300g butter, softened
180g brown sugar
2Tbsp golden syrup
70g ground almonds (not necessity but it makes the cake moist)
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4tsp ground cloves
Put the fruit and alcohol in a saucepan and heat until just boiling. Take off the heat and cover overnight.
The next day, preheat your oven to 150C
Cream butter and sugar with lemon zest
Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition
Add golden syrup and vanilla.
Sift the dry ingredients (except for the ground almonds) and set aside.
Gradually begin to alternate adding the dry ingredients and the fruit mix to the butter mix until well combined.
Spoon into a tin lined with baking paper. This will do a 20cm square tin or two loaf tins.
Bake for approximately 2 3/4 hrs - 3 1/4 hrs depending on cake tin and oven. I sometimes rotate my tins half way through, just to make sure it is evenly baked.
To check if the cake is ready, insert a skewer into the centre, if it comes out clean, it's done.
Once removed from the oven, cover it with tin foil and then wrap in a tea towel to hold in the moisture. Leave cake like this until it has cooled completely.
Once cooled you can either leave it as is, or ice it, and then keep it wrapped in tin foil and stored in an airtight container.
Right, so that's the recipe done. Now for the icing!
I started off with a light spread of raspberry jam on the cakes and then covered it with a layer of white fondant rolled thinly.
Next up, I started on the polar bears. These guys weren't as hard as I thought they'd be! Basically, a larger oval shape of fondant for the body, four sausage type pieces for the arms and legs, then position them on the cake.
The head was made of a ball with a smaller ball flattened for the mouth and nose. I used a skewer to poke a hole for the eyes and nose, then filled them with some edible black paint. If you have black fondant, then you could use that too. I also used my skewer to add in some details on the face.
You can form two ears by making two small balls and flattening them, then pushing onto the top of the head.
The hard part, is getting the head to stick to the body. I know you can use an edible paste, but I didn't have any of that, and wasn't sure how to make it, so I pushed a dent into the body where I wanted to place the head, then dabbed a little water in the dent. I sat the head on top and gave a gentle push, and propped it up with a glass just in front of the bears head. I left it there until it had dried and I was able to move it away without the head falling off.
The tree in the picture was made with rounds of green fondant cut out, and the edges pushed down to create a crinkled effect. I, however, used star shapes.
I cut several different size stars, and layered them on top of each other, with a blob of fondant in between to give it a bit of depth. I then topped the points with coloured balls.
As you can see, mine isn't as big or impressive, but I was running low on fondant and I think they're quite cute :)
Next up, I made some little parcels out of coloured fondant, then using edible paints, I drew some ribbons on the parcels. These were stacked beside the tree.
I finished it off by sprinkling a little edible dust over top to give the impression of shiny snow.
This is my finished product:-
So I know it isn't perfect, but I think it's a pretty good first attempt :) I hope I have inspired you to give it a go! I'd love to see what you guys can come up with :)
Anyways, enjoy your week and Happy Cooking!