The time has come! You've been lovingly "feeding" the "I Can't Believe You Made That" Christmas Cake for weeks now and with just 7 days left until the big day now it's time to cover it ready for the best bit...decorating!
The idea of covering a cake in marzipan and icing can seem daunting if you've never tried it before, but I promise it's not that difficult and it really will give you a fantastic base to wow your friends and family on Christmas Day with your festive creation. Read through my step-by-step guide carefully before you start so you know exactly what you need to do and for an extra confidence boost check out my top tip below before you begin...let's do this!
You will need
500g white royal icing
500g golden marzipan
3tbsp apricot glaze or jam
icing sugar, for dusting
Unwrap your Christmas fruit cake and place in the centre of a cake board that is slightly bigger than the cake.
Place a saucepan on the lowest heat and add the apricot glaze; if using apricot jam ensure you have sieved it beforehand. Gently heat, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until no lumps remain. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
Lightly dust a clean surface with icing sugar and knead the marzipan until soft and pliable. Coat a rolling pin in some icing sugar and begin rolling out the marzipan. After a few rolls move the marzipan and continue until it is about 5mm thick, aiming to keep it in a rounded shape.
Using a pastry brush coat the fruit cake in a layer of the apricot glaze, ensuring it is completely covered, this will help the marzipan stick to the cake. Place the rolling pin at the top of the rolled out marzipan (the end furthest from you) and roll it onto the pin as if bringing the marzipan towards you. Now carefully hold the marzipan in place on the rolling pin and lift it. Place the bottom of the rolled marzipan at the end of the cake furthest from you and gently place over the cake.
Coat your hands in icing sugar and use your hands to carefully smooth the marzipan in place, turning the cake and smoothing as you go. When covered use a sharp knife to cut away any excess at the bottom, then use the side of a blunt knife to push the bottom marzipan into the cake giving an extra smooth finish. Ideally, you should leave the cake overnight before covering with the icing, or at least 4-5 hours if you're in a hurry.
To cover with royal icing; lightly dust a clean surface with icing sugar and roll out exactly as you did with the marzipan. Use a pastry brush to lightly coat the marzipan covered cake in cooled boiled water and then lift and cover the cake exactly as you did before.
If you notice any air bubbles in the icing carefully pierce with the end of a sharp knife or pin, place some icing sugar on your finger and gently rub over the cut you made to cover it.
Now your cake is a blank canvas for you to decorate however you wish, but if you keep an eye on the blog in the next couple of days I'll be giving you lots of hints and tips on how to make it look super-professional super-easily!
Belle's Top Tip
If you still feel you need a little help or a confidence boost before covering the cake, the BBC Good Food website has an excellent video showing you basically what I've described above and you can view it here.