First off, I must apologise for the lateness of this post. I was intending for it to be released on Christmas Eve but with all the baking madness over the Christmas period I didn’t have the energy to finish the cake. But on New Year’s Day I finally got round to Icing and decorating the cake with a little help from The Sound of Music to keep me company.
For the last couple of years I have made two Rachel Allen Christmas cakes. One to eat ourselves and the other to give away as Christmas presents. However, as part of my baking course we made a Christmas cake and unfortunately this is the one the family got this year. I don’t think this one went down as well as it was pretty much a disaster when we compared it with the Rachel cake.
Although the cake I made at college was finished in early December we didn’t start cutting it up until December 23 and for some reason half of the cake was leaking, which I assume was whiskey, and part of the marzipan had melted. I’m guessing the reason for this is that the cake couldn’t handle all the alcohol. As a result the texture was much softer and for me this cake wasn’t as tasty. So I can safely say this is one recipe I won’t be digging out again!
In the meantime the other cake had been eagerly lapping up copious amounts of port since October. I was interested to see whether the tasted any different this year and if the port had turned the cake red. Thankfully I found out on New Year’s Day and to rub salt into the wound I have to say this is the best Christmas cake I’ve ever tasted. It was moist from all the booze but still retained plenty of texture; in fact it’s actually quite a light cake. There might have been some guilt on my part that the other cake wasn’t as good but it wasn’t enough to sway me to part with any of my cake. Yes, when it comes to Christmas cake I don’t give it up easily.
This year’s cake will be started even earlier as I will make it in July alongside the wedding cake and Port will definitely be playing a major role again. This time I think we’ll see if it can take a full bottle!
If you struggle with icing your cake, here are some simple steps to follow:
Place the cake upside down on a cake board so that the flattest part is on the top
Roll out some marzipan and fill in any gaps at the bottom of the cake so it appears level.
- Heat up some apricot glaze or some whiskey and orange marmalade. If using marmalade make sure you remove the rind as the cake needs to be smooth when applying the marzipan.
- Use a pastry brush to glaze the top and sides of the cake.
- Warm up the marzipan with your fingers so that it is not too difficult to roll out then dust the work surface and the rolling pin with some icing sugar so that the marzipan doesn’t stick.
- Roll out the marzipan using the rolling pin to help measure out the size you need.
- Cover the cake and smooth down using fingers and a cake smoother tool.
- If you have any gaps fill them in with any left-over marzipan and smooth them out.
- I normally leave the cake to settle for a day or two before adding ready to roll icing.
- Next brush the cake with either whiskey, water or brandy so that there is something for the icing to stick to.
- Follow step 5 so that it is not too difficult to roll out the icing.
- Follow steps 6, 7 and 8 to cover the cake. When adding the icing make sure your work surface and tools are clean as it’s important you don’t pick up any bits that will show up and ruin the appearance of the cake. However, if you mess up around the base of the cake then it’s nothing a nice ribbon can’t fix.
- When the icing is completely covered and smooth you can start decorating the cake.