Traditional Christmas Cake Part 2 - Merry Christmas!

Here we are with only 3 days until Christmas, I cannot quite believe it!  I am almost ready, I think; most of the presents are wrapped, the bags are half packed, I just need to get us all to the airport and onto the plane tomorrow night and then I can relax.  This will be my last post of 2017 and it is nice to take a few minutes to reflect on what has been an incredibly fast and busy year.  My baby has transformed into a vocal, funny, opinionated and determined little girl, we have traveled a lot and we have spent some fantastic times with friends and family.  It has been a very happy and fulfilling year, and I feel so lucky to have so many wonderful people in my life that provide support and encouragement.  As we head off to Australia to celebrate Christmas in the sun I am very much looking forward to having a break and to thinking ahead to 2018.  I started this blog at the beginning of this year and it has taken time to get going but is something that I love working on, I continue to develop my cooking at every opportunity and am planning a lot of new recipes for the new year.  I have big plans for the blog next year so watch this space!

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Apologies, I was actually meant to post last week about icing and decorating the Christmas cake but I just completely ran out of time.  We had a Christmas party last Saturday for our friends and neighbours which was wonderful but, as usual, involved more preparation time than I had anticipated!  I ice my Christmas cake in much the same way and my Great Aunt always has, with marzipan and royal icing.  This year I borrowed an idea from the 'Topless Baker' (if you don't know who he is then check out his Instagram, he bakes beautiful cakes wearing only an apron!), and made these meringue Christmas trees to adorn the top of my cake.   

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RECIPE

Ingredients

For icing the cake:

2 Tbsp Apricot Jam

200g Marzipan (homemade or shop bought)

3 Egg whites*

600g Icing sugar

2 Tsp lemon juice

For the meringue trees:

3 Egg whites

180g Caster sugar

1/2 a Lemon

Pinch of Cream of tartar

1-2 Drops of green food colouring

Sprinkles

 

METHOD

  1. Firstly cover the top of the cake with marzipan.  Aunty Peggie always only covers the top of her cake with marzipan, not the sides, so I followed her teaching and did the same.  If you like more marzipan then you can certainly cover the whole cake.
  2. Firstly warm the apricot jam slightly and brush over the area that you wish to cover with marzipan.  Knead your marzipan for a few minutes to soften it and then dust with icing sugar and roll to approximately 3/4 cm thick.  Cut a circle to fit the top of your cake and strips for the sides, if required.  Place the marzipan over the apricot jam and use a knife to tidy any uneven edges.  Cover with a tea towel and leave for 24 hours to dry.**
  3. Next make the meringue trees for your decoration.  Rub the bowl of your mixer with the half lemon.  Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl and whisk on medium speed until frothy.  Increase to high speed and add the caster sugar 1 Tsp at a time.  Continue to whisk until you reach the stiff peak stage and the meringue holds it's shape.  Add the green food colouring and mix gently to combine.
  4. Use a piping bag with a round nozzle to pipe your trees onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper.  Add sprinkles and bake at 100 degrees centigrade for 45 minutes and then turn off the oven and leave in the oven for 30 minutes to cool.
  5. To make the royal icing whisk the egg whites on medium speed until frothy.  Continue to whisk whilst gradually adding the icing sugar.  Add the lemon juice and whisk on high speed until the icing reaches the stiff peak stage.  Use a spatula to spread over your cake.  If you want the icing to be totally smooth you may have to add a little egg white to thin it.  Do not leave the icing sitting out in the air as it will dry quite quickly, if not ready to use straight away then store in an airtight container in the fridge.
  6. Allow the icing to dry and then decorate with your meringue trees, using a little more icing to secure them.

* This recipe uses uncooked egg whites.  If you have concerns about this then you can use pasturised egg white that can be bought in a carton from the supermarket.

** Ideally you want to leave the marzipan to dry before icing the cake but to be honest I am normally in such a hurry that I ice it straight away and it usually turns out OK!

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Finally I would like to wish you a very merry Christmas and a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018! xxx