Hello and welcome to my Little Willow blog, well welcome to those who might stumble across it anyway as I have yet to give this address to anyone :) I thought I might try and see how I get along with just writing in it first. It's all a lot of random stuff, but hey, hopefully there'll be something interesting for people

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Christmas Cake

As you all know, I have taken up baking cakes as a hobby this year which I am fully enjoying. So this year I decided to make my own Christmas cake and I finally put the finishing touches to it today. I initially made the cake at the beginning of December and I decided to wrap it up and leave the marzipan-ing, icing and decorating til nearer Christmas. I don't ordinarily like fruit cake much, mostly due to the glace cherries and candied peel (which is just disgusting) so making my own allowed me to improvise and remove items I disliked and include those I did - i.e. cranberries which I hope will make a nice addition and it remains very Christmassy.

So today I dragged the cake out of its hidey hole and got to work. I must say at this point I did cheat slightly and buy ready rolled marzipan and icing - I figured making and decorating the cake for this year was challenging enough. One thing I should have read carefully on the boxes though was the size of the cake they covered - 20cm and my cake is a larger 23cm - but I made the best of it without having to trek up to the shops through the snow for more.

For the marzipan, it doesn't matter so much about presentation as it will be covered with the icing. So firstly I placed the cake on the marzipan and cut around it, thereby producing the top - easy done. The next bit was a little harder as the remaining shape was like a crescent moon, when it would have been more ideal to be a long rectangular shape which could then be rolled around the side of the cake -but no such luck :-( I did the best I could and even shmooshed some of the marzipan together and rolled it out and cut it to the shape I wanted (ish). I then took all the marzipan off so I could stick it down with apricot jam! Despite these challenges, I managed to cover the entire cake - thereby finishing step one.

Now the next step was to be a little harder as there's no way you can just stick random pieces of icing all over the cake to plug little holes. In a very ungainly fashion I picked up the circular piece of icing and plonked it on top of the cake. the icing only reached part of the way down the sides of the cake, but I thought I'll deal with that later and get on with smoothing it out. So I tried smoothing it down but didn't find a good way to do it without causing some pleating but I did the best I could to smooth these pleats out. I managed to smooth the icing a bit further down the sides of the cake, leaving only a small amount of icing free cake at the bottom but I decided this was acceptable as no-one would really be looking at it from that angle anyway :-) Plus it's a first attempt, it's not really meant to look spectacular - I didn't want to show off and look like a pro my first time out :-p

Next came the fun part - decorating! I had purchased some white holographic edible glitter to play the part of snow - and it played its part very well indeed and sparkles every time you move you head slightly. I then decided to make a little bit more icing and craft a snowman - my very first modelling attempt (I even bought black food colouring for the occasion!). I managed to do the head and the body (although to be fair, I'm sure a small child could do this). It was a little more tricky doing the small intricate bits like the eyes, nose and buttons. I firstly used my newly purchased black colouring to create the eyes and buttons, which I used more apricot jam to afix to the snowman. Now unfortunately I couldn't find any orange colouring so I made do with a mix of yellow and red which came out red. The nose was the most difficult part of it and I'm still not really happy with it - from certain angles it looks like big red lips haha :-) but never mind, it'll do, I couldn't do any better with the materials I had (couldn't possibly be down to my crap modelling skills hehe).
So starts the decorating...

The next thing to do was to add a variety of the Christmas style toppers that I purchased, along with others I was given for my birthday. Firstly I used a template and red glitter to put a lovely red bow on. I then added my inedible purchases to the middle of the cake - A Merry Christmas sign and 2 pieces of holly, as well as a cute little robin which I placed next to the snowman. From there on it was a case of putting lots of different things on the cake, hopefully in a fashion that made it look nice and not overcrowded - I did use some restraint. Also, in an attempt to disguise the missing icing, I places little toppers all around the side of the cake, hopefully drawing people's eyes towards them rather than the bottom of the cake!

The finished cake!

The finished product is to the left and below. I enjoyed every step of making the cake and will be doing it again next year. This cake was supposed to be seen and enjoyed (hopefully) by all my family this year (barring the Americans) but fate has worked against us and Stephen and Mandy never made it up due to everyone in the family being unwell and the weather didn't help either. Michael and Kirsten are also unwell - Kirsten is in hospital with suspected shingles, but they're not really sure. The baby seems to be doing ok though so that was good news. So it will be just me, mum and dad eating it on Christmas Day (probably), although Stephen and Mandy are hoping to come and visit from Boxing Day instead.
Close up

The side toppers

I hope everyone else's Christmas baking has gone to plan :-)


  1. Oh I shouldn't have looked at yours before I did mine! Yours looks amazing and you should be very proud :D We're gonna marzipan it tonight (if I can drag mum away from the genealogy) and then leave it to stand apparently. Ours is going to be a bit more traditional ^.^ but I really like yours and may have to invest in some of the shimmery stuff for next year.

    Sorry Stephen and Mandy couldn't make it up, and that Kirsten is in hospital! Hope things pick up for them soon xxx

  2. Haha lol - I bet yours will look brilliant :) You'll have to send me a pic when you finish it.
    Thank you for your comments though.

    The shimmery stuff was so cool! I got a variety of colours off Mike and Kirsten for my birthday but wanted the white one to make it look like snow.

    Good luck with the marzipan-ing xx

  3. "One thing I should have read carefully on the boxes though was the size of the cake they covered - 20cm and my cake is a larger 23cm - but I made the best of it without having to trek up to the shops through the snow for more." - oh how I laughed! Til I came to do mine tonight and discovered mine was for an 8 inch cake whereas my cake is 9 my defense, mum picked it up! Bother!

  4. Haha lol - that's what you get for laughing at me :p but yes you have a better defense than me - but also to provide my own defense, the size of the box is very deceiving! I thought there'd be quite a lot in it and I was also surprised it was a circle shape haha :-) oh how naive! Are you still going to use it and hope for the best? or buy a block instead? Good luck with it! xx