Decorating your celebration cake

Decorating a celebration cake (Christmas cake or wedding cake) is not that hard. REALLY. Start with something simple like this and before you know it you can move on to fancy stuff. There are a plethora of tools and instruments to make it all easy. Give it a go you’ll be surprised how good it looks.

1 kg gfv marzipan (shop bought or make your own)
3-4 tbs apricot jam (more or less depending upon your cake shape)
Hot water
1 kg gfv ready to roll icing
For dusting and rolling gfv icing sugar

Plus a cake board ~4 cm wider than the cake.

1. No cake is perfect – do not worry if your cake is slightly sunk in the middle. But if it is very peaked trim off a small amount from the top to make it flat
2. Take ~two thirds of the marzipan for the top of the cake. Knead until smooth on a clean, dry, work surface dusted with icing sugar to stop sticking
3. Roughly shape the marzipan into the shape of your cake. e.g. round or square. Dust the surface and rolling pin with icing sugar. Roll out until slightly larger than the diameter of the cake and about a 0.5 cm thick
4. Mix ~3 tbs apricot jam with 1 tbs hot water. Spread a thin layer of jam on the top of the cake
5. Place the bottom of the cake in the centre of the rolled out marzipan. (The bottom of the cake is flat and neat and will be the top of the iced cake.) Use a sharp knife to trim off the excess level with the sides of the cake
6. Place the cake on to the centre of the cake board (marzipan at the top). Measure all round the sides of the cake with a tape measure or a piece of string
7. Knead the marzipan together and mould into a sausage shape. Roll out long enough to fit around the cake and a bit deeper than the depth of the cake. Dust with icing sugar and carefully roll up like a bandage. Trim one long side level
8. Spread a thin layer of jam on the sides of the cake. With the trimmed edge touching the cake board carefully unroll against the sides of the cake. Trim the end to fit, and smooth off to make a neat join
9. Trim off the rough top edge of the marzipan level with the top of the cake using a sharp knife. Give the top and sides a final smooth with the palms of your hands
10. Leave the marzipanned cake, lightly covered, to dry in a warm dry room. It will need ~1-2 days to dry
11.Knead the required amount of icing into a smooth shape on a work surface, dusted with icing sugar
12. Roll out the icing large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. e.g. 20 cm round cake 5 cm deep needs icing rolled out to 31 cm diameter
13. Brush the marzipanned cake with a little sherry or cold boiled water
14. Roll the icing so it is doubled over the rolling-pin and can be lifted using the rolling pin to the centre of the cake
15. Lay the icing loosely over the cake being careful to make sure it is in the middle- do not press against the sides
16. Smooth the top using your hands. Work from the middle outwards to get rid of any bubbles trapped under the surface
17. Carefully smooth the icing to the sides of the cake – be gentle avoiding folds or creases
18. Using a sharp knife trim any excess icing at the bottom edge level with the cake board
19. Leave overnight if possible to ‘firm-up’ before decorating. If you need to decorate immediately handle with care to avoid marking the still soft surface
20. Wrap left over icing you want to use for decoration in cling film and a thick plastic bag to prevent it drying out until required
21. As before leave cake to dry in a warm dry place. Use a cake box to store.

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