A Christmas cake guaranteed to wow your guests – this deck the halls cake is festive, fruity and will be the talking point of your Christmas party
Skill level: Bit of effort
Costs: Splashing out
- Paste food colours in dark Brown, black, tangerine, yellow, green, blue, violet and red
- Small quantity of white flowerpaste
- ½ x 500g packet royal icing sugar, already made up
- Edible lustre dust colour in Gold and Snowflake
- Rose water (alcohol based), eg, Star Kay White
- 33cm (13in) round cake drum
- Icing smoother
- Cocktail stick
- FMM Brick Impresssion Mat
- 5mm- and 15mm-wide chocolate satin ribbon
- 15mm red satin ribbon
- Double-sided sticky tape
- Cat mould, eg, FPC Sugarcraft
- 23cm (9in) cake board, trimmed for mantelpiece to 23 x 13cm (9 x 5in) and re-covered in food-grade paper
- CMC (Carboxymethyl cellulose) powder
- NOEL patchwork cutter
- Colour some white sugarpaste with dark brown paste food colour, leaving it mottled, for the floorboards. Moisten the cake drum with cooled, boiled water. Roll the sugarpaste out on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Lift the sugarpaste over the cake drum to cover it. Press the sugarpaste down evenly and polish the surface smooth with an icing smoother and trim away the excess. To mark the floorboards, indent the sugarpaste with a clean ruler at intervals. Finally, mark the wood-grain effect on the surface of the sugarpaste, using a cocktail stick. Mark the ends of the planks with a knife and make small nail holes with the tip of the cocktail stick.
- Cover the cake with marzipan on all surfaces. Do this in sections: first, cover the side in panels and then the front and back — this helps to achieve sharp edges. Spread apricot glaze or jam over each side of the cake to stick the marzipan in place.
- Place the cake down on a spare board on its back. Colour a small amount of sugarpaste black. If you have a smoother with a curved end, cut around it to get the shape for the fireplace, otherwise cut it freehand. Brush some water on to the cake and press the fireplace in place. Cut out a narrow strip of black for the grate and curve it, then leave to dry. Colour some sugarpaste terracotta by blending tangerine with dark brown paste food colours. Stick to marzipan with cooled, boiled water. Roll out sufficient to cover the front, cutting out a window where the fireplace is. Now impress the brick impression mat into the brick-coloured sugarpaste. Cover the top, sides and back of cake with sugarpaste and emboss the brick effect.
- Make the pebbles around the fireplace with dark brown paste food colour and make them relatively thick to give depth to the fireplace. Stick them in place by brushing water on to the back of them. Colour 250g (8oz) sugarpaste Black and add 1 tsp CMC. Make the coal by rolling and flattening small balls, position the fireplace on the marzipan with cooled, boiled water.
- Colour some sugarpaste Yellow and add a little CMC, roll out in teardrop shapes, thinning the ends to create flames for the fire. Once everything has hardened, colour some royal icing black and fix the grate, position the coal and flames, paint the flames tips with tangerine food paste colour and stick on with cooled, boiled water.
- Cover the thin cake card in a light shade of dark brown, again, dampening the board with cooled, boiled water. Using the double-sided tape, attach the 5mm-wide ribbon around it. It’s best to leave this for a day or so to harden up. Take a small piece of white flowerpaste and roll this out thinly on a non-stick board greased with a thin film of vegetable fat. Using the NOEL cutter, press firmly into the paste. Stamp out the letters and allow them to dry out on kitchen paper. Paint the letters with a mixture of Gold lustre dust and rose water, and leave to dry.
- Position the cake on to the cake drum with royal icing. Fix the mantelpiece in place, also with royal icing. Position the word NOEL with dots of royal icing, holding in position until it sets. Colour some sugarpaste red and add CMC, and then model the candles. Place little teardrop shapes on the sides to represent the dripping wax. Roll a tiny piece of rolled black sugarpaste for the wick.
- To make the parcels, colour some small pieces of sugarpaste to various colours, adding CMC to each one, shape into squares and leave to harden. Roll out some white flowerpaste and cut out strips to wrap around the parcels, sticking them in place with a little water. Finally, give the gifts a dusting of snowflake lustre dust. Stick in place using a little royal icing. For the cat, colour some sugarpaste a ginger colour using the Tangerine food colour and add some CMC. Keep the marbled effect by not kneading thoroughly. Give the mould a brush with a very thin layer of vegetable fat to stop the paste sticking. Firmly press the paste into the mould and lift out with care. Leave to dry and stick it on the cake drum with royal icing.
- For the wreath, colour up some flowerpaste with green food paste colour. Make a round ball and flatten, insert a cone tool into the middle and pull through, to make a doughnut shape. With fine-pointed scissors, snip into the paste to give the effect of a wreath. Leave to harden and position on the mantelpiece with green-coloured royal icing. Finish off the wreath by sticking on a red ribbon bow. Secure the brown ribbon around the edge of the cake drum, using double-sided sticky tape.
Nutritional information per portion
This nutritional information is only a guide and is based on 2,000 calories per day. For more information on eating a healthy diet, please visit the Food Standards Agency website.
Guideline Daily Amount for 2,000 calories per day are: 70g fat, 20g saturated fat, 90g sugar, 6g salt.