Frosty forest cake
- Preparation and cooking time
- Prep: 2 hours plus 1-2 days drying for the trees
- More effort
- Cuts into 16-18 slices
For the christmas cake
- 140g soft dried apricot , roughly chopped
- 100ml apricot or regular brandy
- 140g soft dried fig , roughly chopped
- 250g raisin
- 85g glacé cherry , quartered
- 50g each almond , cashews and Brazil nuts, chunkily chopped
- finely grated zest 1 lemon
- 200g plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 1½ tsp mixed spice
- 50g ground almond
- 200g butter , softened
- 200g light muscovado sugar
- 4 eggs
For the decoration
- STEP 1
To make the cake, soak the apricots in the brandy while you get everything prepared. Heat oven to 160C/fan 140C/gas 3. Butter then line the sides and base of a deep 20cm round cake tin with greaseproof paper. Mix together the figs, raisins, cherries, nuts and lemon zest.
- STEP 2
Combine the flour with the baking powder, mixed spice and ground almonds. Beat the butter and sugar in a large bowl until creamy, about 2 mins. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gently fold the flour mixture into the cake mixture in two goes, then fold in the fruits and nuts, followed by the apricots and brandy.
- STEP 3
Spoon the mixture into the tin, then smooth the top, making a slight dip in the middle. Bake for 30 mins, then lower the temperature to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2 and bake for another 1 hr 45 mins, laying a sheet of foil loosely over the top for the final 15 mins if it starts to brown too quickly. The cake is done when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin to cool, then remove the lining paper and wrap well in cling film and foil until ready to decorate (see below or turn the page for another idea).
- STEP 4
To create the frosty forest cake: colour the marzipan pale green with a little of the food colouring. Cut off 250g, then make this a shade darker with more food colouring for the trees. To make the trees, roll out the darker green marzipan on a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar. Make pointed triangular cardboard tree templates in 3 different sizes (roughly 7.5 x 4cm/6.5 x 3.5cm/5.5 x 3cm). Using these as guides, cut out the tree shapes (see tip, above right). Brush one side lightly with honey, then scatter over silver and coloured dragees, pressing them down lightly to stick. Lay the trees on baking parchment to firm up. This is best done a day or two ahead.
- STEP 5
When ready to decorate, sit the cake on a board or plate. On a surface lightly dusted with icing sugar, roll the paler green marzipan into a circle wide enough to cover the cake completely. Brush the cake all over with honey. Using a rolling pin, lift and lower the marzipan onto the cake. Smooth the surface of the marzipan with your palms, then trim off any excess from the bottom with a sharp knife.
- STEP 6
Cut off two-thirds of the ready-to-roll icing, then roll out a strip about 8cm wide and long enough to go over the top and down the sides of the cake. Cut a wavy line down either side to resemble a path. Brush the marzipan with honey where you want the path to go, then lay the path on top. Trim to neaten the ends.
- STEP 7
Take two-thirds of the remaining icing, then roll out 2 long, narrow ropes the same length as the path and about 5mm wide. Dampen the path edges with water and lay the ropes in position. Cut off and roll small pieces from the rest of the icing (and any trimmings), then shape into small snow drifts for the trees to stand in. When the trees are firm, make an indent in the top of each snowdrift with the back of a knife and put each tree into position. Sit the trees on the cake, securing with a little honey underneath. If necessary, cut off some of the rope along the edge of the path to make a flatter surface for the trees. Finally, scatter edible glitter onto the marzipanned cake.