ICE THE CAKE: Melt the apricot jam, then sieve and brush a little all over a 23cm cake (see Apricot & almond fruitcake recipe to the right of this recipe). On a clean surface lightly dusted with a little sifted icing sugar, roll out the marzipan to a circle large enough to cover the cake – use a piece of kitchen string to help you check. Lift up the marzipan by hanging it over your rolling pin, then drape over the cake. Gently pat and smooth the marzipan down the sides of the cake, then trim any excess from the bottom.
Colour the regal icing with a little blue food colouring, then cover the marzipan using the same method as you covered the cake, firstly brushing the marzipan with more apricot jam. Trim the base.
ADD SOME SNOW: Use your hands to roll two-thirds of the remaining regal icing into a long, thin sausage on an icing sugar-dusted surface. It should be long enough to go round the cake – use a piece of kitchen string to help you measure it. Use a rolling pin to roll the sausage into a strip about 5cm wide. Use a small, sharp knife to straighten one edge, and trim the other into a wiggly edge.
Keep all the trimmings, and squash half into 2 wobbly circles for the snowmen to sit on. Brush the strip, circles and the very bottom edge of the cake with a little runny icing made with 100g sifted icing sugar and a splash of water. Scatter the desiccated coconut over the strip and circles, gently pressing to stick and cover. Starting with one end of the strip, stick it round the base of the cake. This can be a bit fiddly, so if you’re nervous, simply halve the icing from the start and do in 2 half-length strips, using a little more coconut to hide the joins on the cake.
SHAPE THE SNOWMEN: Roll the remaining third of regal icing into 2 large balls, 2 medium balls and 2 small balls. Stick together, squashing slightly, into 2 snowmen. Brush 4 cocktail sticks with a little brown food colouring and stick into the snowmen for arms.
ADD BUTTONS AND NOSES: Push a few whole cloves into one snowman as buttons. Use a little orange food colouring to dye a little of the strip trimmings, and shape a little around the pointy end of 2 cloves to look like carrot noses. Use another clove to make little holes where the noses will go, dab a bit of runny icing into the holes and stick on the noses, pushing them into the holes to help hold them.
SMILEY FACES: Use a black or brown writing icing pen to dot on smiley mouths and eyes – I find it helps to mark tiny holes with the end of a cocktail stick first. It stops you making mistakes and helps the icing stay in place.
MAKE THE HAT: Dye another lump of regal icing trimmings with food colouring (we used green). Shape most into a woolly hat shape, pressing a slight dip into the bottom with your thumb where it will sit on the snowman’s head. Roll a little ball to stick on top of the hat; attach it with more runny icing. Then roll and cut a thin strip to stick round the base of the hat. Use a cocktail stick to make markings like a woolly hat and rough up the ball on top. A little more runny icing will help it stick onto your snowman’s head.
AND LASTLY, THE SCARF: Knot the strawberry laces together at one end. Tightly plait a 10cm length and knot at the end again. Using scissors, snip the ends, leaving about 1cm for tassels after the knot, then wrap around the neck of the other snowman. Sit the wobbly snowy islands on top of the cake and a snowman on each one.