If you've been following the Christmas Cake baking process (click for fruit-soaking and baking the cake posts!), you'll know that these little lovelies have been fed with Disaronno every few days for the past couple of weeks. When I opened up the little parcels earlier this week, the cakes had reached the sodden, sticky stage which meant they were ready for icing. This is quite a time-consuming task considering there are 5 cakes to ice, but they are just so adorable when they're done!
To ice the cakes you'll need a 454g packet of marzipan (white or golden, take your pick!), a 1kg packet of ready-to-roll white icing and a bit of apricot jam. The little taster pots are brilliant if you can get hold of them, 35p each from Morrisons! A word of advice is to not wear any rings or bracelets during the icing process, and to ideally have short nails as the white icing will catch ANYTHING.
To start with you'll need to make sure your cakes are level on top. Mine have always turned out relatively neat, but if they're not, go ahead and tidy it up by using a serrated knife to cut off the top (yes you can eat the trimmings, lucky you!). Warm some apricot jam through by zapping it in the microwave for 10 seconds. Brush it over the top and sides of the cake A handy tip to make sure you roll out the right size marzipan and icing is to cut a piece of string or thread that fits from the bottom of one side of the cake to the other. You can then use this to measure what you roll out. Clever, eh?
First up is the marzipan layer. This won't need to be too thick, remember how small the slices are going to be once the mini cake is cut! Unless of course you are a marzipan fiend, go right ahead. You'll want to split your marzipan into 5 so you've got enough for each cake. Gently knead one of your marzipan portions to make it warmer and easier to work with. Lightly dust your surface and rolling pin with icing sugar and roll out the marzipan. With the amount of marzipan you have from one packet, it should be just the right thickness for your cake once you've reached the correct size. Using your rolling pin, lift the marzipan off and gently place it on top of your cake. Start by smoothing out the top of the marzipan and work your way down the sides, lifting up from the bottom if you need to remove a crease. Once you've smoothed all over, gently trim around the bottom of the cake with a sharp knife.
Your marzipan covered cakes will now need to be put to one side for 24-48 hours. Allowing the marzipan to dry out and firm up a little will make applying the white icing so much easier.
You'll apply the white icing exactly the same as the marzipan. I placed some greaseproof paper on my kitchen side to roll on, just because white icing picks up anything and everything... a 1kg packet of white icing will be enough to cover at least 6 cakes, so plenty to play with here! Dust your surface and rolling pin with icing sugar and roll out a portion of icing. Once measured to the correct size with your thread, polish your icing by rubbing your palm over the top. This is my favourite part of the process, I just love the feel of the icing becoming super-smooth under my hand! Brush some water or a clear spirit such as vodka or gin over the marzipan on the cake, just to dampen it. Lift the icing up with your rolling pin and gently place over the cake. I say and stress gently, if your icing cracks then the game is over and you'll have to start again! Once on the cake, smooth out from the top downwards again. Once you reach the bottom, trim neatly and carefully with a sharp knife. Smooth out again, giving the icing a lovely shine.
And that's the basic icing of your little Christmas cakes done! One year I might try out some fancy fondant decorations, but for now I've gone for a simple bit of Christmas ribbon. Phew, I may have started out late but we got there. Merry Christmas folks!