How to decorate a Christmas cake: 3 ways

Forget fruitcake this Christmas and bake our festive sponge cake with three options for how to decorate it. Whichever one you choose, it's a showstopper.

Christmas cake decoration
We love a layered cake that looks incredible, especially at Christmas, and if you're not a fan of traditional fruitcake, then you've come to the right place. We've devised a sponge recipe with festive orange and cranberries for a fresher, zingier flavour and you can customise the decoration in any way you choose. However, we've come up with three ideas that will wow a crowd if you're entertaining.

You don't have to do everything in one day either. Start by preparing the batter for our white chocolate, orange & cranberry cake and if you want, stick it in the freezer until you're ready to bake (making sure to defrost the mix thoroughly before putting in the oven). A layer of cream cheese frosting is applied to the cake after it has cooled, then pick your favourite design.

Choose from a playful candy cane explosion, a frosty icicle cake, or first up, a pretty topping of golden snowflakes and meringue kisses – the cover star of our 2017 Christmas edition. Be aware that the sponge is quite delicate, so handle with care when decorating.

Golden snowflake & meringue naked cake

Decorating time: 1 hour

Meringue topped Christmas cake
Add extra sparkle to the Christmas table with this gloriously gilded, meringue-topped masterpiece. You'll need fondant icing stars, a spritz of edible gold spray, gold leaf and some decorated meringue kisses. 


White fondant icing
Edible gold spray, or lustre powder
White chocolate icing (see the full cake recipe)
Gold leaf (optional)
Assorted meringue kisses (homemade or shop-bought)
Edible gold glitter stars and sprinkles

  1. Roll out the fondant icing and cut out snowflakes. Leave to dry on baking parchment. When they are dry, spray them gold or brush with lustre powder. 
  2. Apply a final thin layer of icing over the crumb coat. This is to create a neat finish and a naked cake effect, rather than cover the cake completely. 
  3. Gently lift pieces of the gold leaf with a knife or paintbrush, if using, and press them gently on the sides and edge of the cake. 
  4. Arrange the meringue kisses to cover all or some of the top of the cake.
  5. Add glitter, gold stars, snowflakes and sprinkles, using a little icing to stick them down. Arrange more meringues around the base of the cake, if you like. 

Candy cane explosion cake

Decorating time: 30 minutes

Candy cane cake
We're confident this red-and-white burst of broken candy canes would make Father Christmas proud. Add the sweets no more than a few hours before serving the cake to prevent any colour from bleeding into the icing. Note, too, that candy canes come in peppermint, cinnamon or fruit flavours, so be sure to choose your favourite. Use more crushed candy to cover the bottom of the cake for extra pizzazz. 


White chocolate icing (see the full cake recipe)
12-14 candy canes (fruity ones go well with the cake)
Assorted red & white sweets (we found these sold individually in local sweet shops)

  1. Apply a final layer of icing over the crumb coat of your cake and give it as neat a finish as possible. 
  2. Put the cake on a stand, if you like. Smash a couple of the candy canes and sweets and press pieces around the base of the cake. 
  3. Stick the remaining canes into the cake at angles, add any remaining whole sweets and sprinkle the rest of the crushed sweets into the gaps. 

Frosty icicle cake

Decorating time: 30 minutes - 1 hour

Icicle cake
For a whimsical, wintry scene, try this icy cake decoration. Use a selection of white and silver sprinkles to create a snowy effect and homemade or shop-bought meringues for added crunch. Your decorations can be made up to five days ahead to save time. Grab your apron and let it snow!


Blue food colouring
White chocolate icing (see the full cake recipe)
Meringue icicles, kisses and snowflakes
Silver and pearl balls
Icing sugar

  1. Add a tiny amount of blue to your remaining icing and beat it in. Be very careful adding it or you might end up with too dark a blue. (Because the base icing is yellowish, it'll actually end up a greeny blue.) Apply a final layer of this icing over the crumb coat and give it as neat a finish as possible. Put the cake on a stand, if you like. 
  2. Use some of the icing to stick the meringue icicles carefully around the edge of the cake so they look as if they're dripping down. 
  3. Arrange the meringue kisses and snowflakes on top of the cake and meringue dots around the outside. Push silver and pearl balls into the icing and dust the cake with a little icing sugar to look like snow.

Like these cake decorating ideas? Get more tips for entertaining at Christmas...

How to make Christmas cupcakes
The best ever Christmas cocktails
Our easiest ever yule log

What are your top cake decorating tips? Leave a comment below...


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