yes… I missed my post date …! What was I
Well I sat down ready to write and then I had one of those moments when you realise that you haven’t done something that MUST be done… and there is no other time to do it than right NOW!
Yes – it was Tuesday evening and the WI Christmas cake had to be ready for Wednesday evening… and I was out at the market all Wednesday morning and out again with my OH in the afternoon. Could I do both, blog and decorate the cake? I looked at the time, thought I might but that the cake must come first (sorry) and set about the decorations.
It’s not as if I had totally forgotten about this, a few days previously I had made and dried a lot of icing holly leaves and the lettering for the decorations, but there was still the covering, the other decoration bits and the assembly to do. It all had to be last minute as it was to be a sponge cake ( by request) , and I’d made this and frozen it a week before. I had even remembered in the morning to take it out of the freezer to thaw gently … just somewhere during the day I had forgotten it again (worrying, or what?).
Now I do have a range of holly cutters, but you do not have to have specialist cutters to create this effect – should you wish to – substituting Happy Christmas for the name of our WI, of course 🙂 Holly leaves of three different sizes can be made using just one ‘sweet’ pastry cutter ( the ones with the wavy edges)
Colour some ready-to-roll icing green (I find Regal Ice the best for taste and texture) This is easiest done using powder cake colours rather than the liquid ones – but you can use the liquid if you can’t get hold of the powder – you may just have to knead in a little corn flour to take away the stickiness.
If you have gum tragacanth then blend in a sprinkling to ensure a hard set to your icing leaves. They will firm up as they dry anyway – but gum tragacanth will make sure they are hard.
Roll out your coloured icing on a work surface dusted with corn-flour. This is MUCH better than icing sugar! Use a medium cutter and cut as many circles as you can fit out of the icing. Depending on the size of the holly leaves you want, cut 4, 3 or 2 holly leaves from each circle by cutting on an edge. See photos.
These can then be enhanced using the back of a knife to mark the rib and veins of the leaf.
Cover a baking sheet with a piece of cling film and dust with corn flour, place the leaves on this and leave somewhere warm to dry. If you want wavy leaves fold or screw up paper of aluminium foil and lay the cling film over this and the leaves on top – leaves will lie on the uneven surface and mould themselves to the shape – resulting in wavy leaves when dry.
If you’ve never used roll-out icing before may I say just four things. 1, Use the base of the cake as the top, and brush warm apricot jam all over the surface. 2, Roll out icing on corn flour – and make sure it isn’t too thin, then lift the sheet using a rolling pin as support and drape over the cake, overlapping the cake out to the edge of the board. 3, Gently press / smooth the corners first (if square cake) then ease the sides down without creases. (If round cake make sure the icing it evenly ‘draped’ around the cake and ease down from the top all round, to form smooth sides.) 4, ‘Polish’ with palm of hand dusted in corn flour, gently and smoothly, then trim off excess.
To attach the holly leaves and letters just moisten the back with water (I use a dedicated paintbrush) and press lightly down – if on side of the cake hold for a moment to make sure it doesn’t slide. To create the 3 dimension effect of holly leaves sticking up, make a small hole in the icing with a cocktail stick, moisten the end section of a piece of holly and press it in, smoothing the icing over the ‘stem’.
Many, many years a go I bought a set of letters for cutting out of icing – a most excellent and ever useful buy! However, if you do not have these you can roll out the icing into a long thin sausage ( all that plasticine or play-dough rolling skills come in handy) and use this to ‘write’ a script Merry Christmas on to the top of the cake. Lie it on dry, then when in the right place lift, moisten top of cake and place down in the right place.
Lastly, some white holly leaves cut from the trimmings, mark them up and use to fill in between the green, and a few red berries, made by colouring some of those trimmings red, roll into a thin sausage, cut a small piece, roll on palm of hand and add with the dampened brush tip onto the right place.
So there it is – our WI Christmas cake… and, perhaps, an idea for you – simply done with little in the way of special decoration equipment. Alas, the blog didn’t get written that night … and so this is the new blog post – hope you liked it!
Have you made and decorated your Christmas cake yet?? (Mine is made… but not yet decorated)
Do you find yourself ‘double-booking’ your time?
Do share – you know I love to hear from you