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The perfect Christmas gift for you or a loved one
Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease a 20cm round cake tin and line the base with a circle of baking parchment.
Put the butter in a big mixing bowl with the sugar and vanilla extract, and mix until it looks creamy. Crack in the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each one. Sift the flour and cocoa together, add to the bowl with the milk and stir everything together until smooth. Spoon into the cake tin and use the back of a wooden spoon to spread the top to make it as flat as you can. Bake for 20 mins until a skewer poked into the centre comes out clean, with just cake crumbs stuck to it, not wet batter. Leave the cake to cool completely in the tin on a wire rack.
Remove the cake from the tin and use a serrated knife to cut it into 8 wedges. Turn each one so that the round, outside edge is facing you, and push a lollipop or cake pop stick through the middle of the outside edge. Remember to leave enough of the stick poking out for you to hold.
Mix the food colouring and icing sugar with enough water to make an icing that is a bit runny, but still quite stiff. Try drizzling a bit on a spare piece of paper; you want it to stay in strips, not run all over the place.
Spoon some icing over each cake wedge (you can cover it completely or drizzle lines across them in a tree shape). Decorate with sugar snowflakes and mini Smarties, then lift onto a wire rack and leave to set completely (this will take a few hours). Iced cakes will keep in the tin for up to 2 days. The un-iced cake can be frozen for up to 6 months. Defrost completely before cutting and decorating.