It’s that time of year, in the run up to Christmas, when Christmas cakes are baked and iced ready for the festive season. And then there is the question of “how to decorate the cake?”. Do you have a family tradition that’s followed unfailingly year on year? Or do you do something different each time – perhaps update the look or try different techniques? I know my mother had a tried and tested formula. The cake was always traditionally iced with Royal Icing, the sides smoothed beautifully ready for the red ribbon, scalloped piping for the edges and “frosting” for the top. You know, the one where you use the flat of your knife blade to pull the wet icing up into peaks. And then, of course, there were the traditional decorations of the fir trees and carol singers to be placed amongst the snow!
Here at Crafty Bug HQ, we thought we’d have a look at some of the ideas around and about and share our favourites with you. Sometimes you can’t improve on tradition – but sometimes you might just be able to jazz things up a little!
This first selection (more later!) are all great looking cakes but not too difficult or ones which will take too much time to do.
Our first offering is this brilliant Santa face cake. The icing is all buttercream but once finished, it really looks like fondant icing has been used. This would be a great way of decorating your cake if you don’t have too much time as Royal icing can be trickier to work with. And being buttercream, the decoration could be done very last minute. There are many buttercream recipes / ideas out there you could use but our standard one here at Crafty Bug is to use twice as much icing sugar as unsalted butter and then add in any flavourings required (lemon, orange, vanilla and so on).
The video below shows you how to produce an exquisite looking cake design. It’s a longish video, coming in at a little over 10 minutes but it’s pretty compelling viewing. There isn’t a commentary so it’s perfect for watching when you can’t play sound but the techniques are clearly demonstrated. I am absolutely fascinated by the way in which the pine cones are produced and plan to give this a go in the not too distant future. The piping techniques here are definitely more advanced than in the Santa cake above and a steady hand is needed. But I think the result is pretty amazing!
For those of you who like your fondant icing and perhaps don’t have the steadiest of piping bag hands, this next video is for you. Minimal piping is required, just cutting out shapes and decorating them.
This next offering is for a more traditional square cake. Round cakes seem to be much more popular at the moment but I think there’s a lot to be said for the square cake. It certainly cuts up into a greater number of pieces if you have a large gathering, and is easier to cut a small (or large!) slice for someone who just wants “a taste”. The video below is in 2 parts: the first demonstrates how to marzipan and ice your cake and then the second part shows you how to make the decorative stars. This is from the kitchen of Woman’s Weekly which has been showing readers how to bake and cook for many years!
I hope you have found this selection of Christmas cake decoration ideas interesting and inspiring. Do share your own efforts with us as we love to see what fabulous ideas are out there!