I know fondant icing looks great on a Christmas cake, but it's a pig to make so royal icing gets my vote most years. And yes, you can buy it, but if I've actually managed to make a cake, I don't want to spoil the home-made flavours with bought icing. Just call me picky.
Royal icing is so forgiving. If you are in a hurry - think late on Christmas Eve - you can mix it up, slap it on, and find something in your cupboard to decorate the cake with.
How to decorate your Christmas Cake
For years I had a pack of Santa candles that I looked at every December and ignored. One year I finally put them on the cake, burned them and threw them away. One small step towards the ongoing decluttering!
Edible and inedible decorations
I must have made a few more small steps last year because I know I've been harbouring some plastic reindeer and assorted snowmen for, possibly, decades.
Anyway, this year they were nowhere to be found, so a quick trip to Sainsbury's produced these rather sweet holly and pudding decorations - with the bonus that you can eat them and you don't have to find a home for them after Christmas. Actually, it was almost all that was left on the shelf, but they work okay.
Ribbon around the sides?
If I had thought this out a little more carefully I might have bought some red ribbon for the side of the cake. But that would add more minutes to the construction, so it's probably best not to.
If you do want to add ribbon and find it slips around, add a few dabs of icing to the underside and it will stick to the cake. A pin under the bow also helps - but do remember to remove it before anyone eats it!
The sad truth is that my family will look at the cake, say something nice and then the children will eat something else because they don't really like fruitcake. That said, they are more likely to try this lighter fruit cake than a traditional matured one, which is definitely for an older generation only, apparently.
If you like this...
...Why don't you try:
The other two parts of my Quick Christmas Cake series:
And if you want a quick and easy recipe for marzipan:
- 2 large egg whites
- 500 g icing sugar, see Notes
- 1 teaspoon glycerine (5ml)
- Put the egg whites in a large bowl and beat briefly to break them down
- Add the icing sugar a tablespoonful at a time and beat thoroughly in between (or leave the mixer on if using)You may not need all the icing sugar. It will depend on the size of your eggs
- When you get to a mixture that holds its shape and forms soft peaks you are done
- Add the glycerine and beat for 5 minutes to get a good shine
- Tip or spoon the icing onto your cake and spread more or less evenly over the top and sides with a palette knife. If you want a snow effect, put the flat blade of the knife on the icing and pull off quickly. (It's a bit like dabbing at the icing)
- Decorate with whatever you like - or, for me, whatever the supermarket has the week before Christmas
Everyday Cooks tips:
- Use the freshest eggs that you have as they aren't cooked. The sugar preserves them, but I like to start with freshest possible
- You don't need to sieve the icing sugar if you open a fresh pack that is in date and hasn't got damp (if it's in a box it will be fine). If you're using icing sugar from an opened bag you will need to sieve it
- Glycerine keeps the icing soft but, if you're making royal icing for a tiered cake, leave it out as the icing will need to support the weight of the other cake(s).