A Christmas Pudding Cake

When my mother-in-law asked me to make a Christmas cake it was difficult to decide on how to decorate it. There are so many possibilities with Christmas cakes and generally traditional ones are decorated with dazzling white fondant. However, this year I decided to try something slightly different and make a cake that looks like a Christmas pudding.

To start, I made a traditional fruitcake around a month ago and kept it topped up with brandy since then. It should be made even earlier really, so next year I'll probably do this step around September/October. 

Then, when ready to ice the cake, I carved the top slightly to give it a little more of a dome like shape:

Christmas Cake Carving

Before icing a fruitcake the best thing to do is brush it with boiled and strained apricot jam. However, in this instance I didn't actually have any apricot jam at hand and replaced it instead with a layer of amaretto - perhaps not quite as sticky, but it'll do the job just fine! 

I covered the cake in a layer of marzipan, then a layer of fondant and, since it's Christmas, I added a dusting of edible bronzing powder for an extra shine:

Now the next bit was the fun bit - making it look like an actual pudding. I rolled out a piece of white fondant and hand cut it to look like a big splodge for the top, followed by a sprig of fondant holly:

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But, of course, no Christmas pudding would be complete without a penny stuck in for luck! Thankfully this is edible too so there should be no emergency dentist trips on the day:

Merry Christmas everyone! I'll be back baking and writing in the New Year!

Making a gingerbread house

There’s something very satisfying about making a gingerbread house – it takes time, planning, precision and nerves of steel for it to all come together, plus about a kilo of royal icing!

First I got to become a fairytale architect and plan the actual design of the house (clearly one of the best bits).  Unfortunately this also involved more maths than I’d like, but it’s important to be precise at this stage!

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Like Rome, gingerbread houses aren't built in a day. So first I made the dough, and after two nights resting in the fridge (so it was nice and firm for shaping) I cut and baked the gingerbread pieces. This meant I had a very gingery smelling flat but dinner on my knee that night:

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A few hours and a lot of icing sugar later, everything started looking a little more Christmassy:

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After the icing had set I started gluing the pieces together with royal icing, but I’m afraid this is where there’s a gap in my photo documentation. With one hand piping and another holding the whole thing together, I just couldn’t reach the shutter!

On the plus side, it makes this post sort of like a makeover show with the before and after shots. Drum roll please…

Ta da!

For me, the joy of a gingerbread house lies in the little details around it, not just the house itself, so this year I decided to include a few gingerbread chaps playing in the snow outside. There would have been more on there but unfortunately this house did not have a big enough garden (London property prices, eh?).

All in all I was pretty happy with the outcome . My one regret is that the scene takes a tragic turn when the gingerbread men can’t fit inside their own house, but I know for next time to measure the people before piping the front door on the house!