Whilst I absolutely love Christmas cake topped with homemade marzipan and royal icing, I know it’s not for everyone. So, I’ve also had a go a decorating a gluten free Christmas cake with shop bought marzipan and fondant icing.
It’s quick and easy to cover a Christmas cake with fondant icing, and unlike royal icing, (which takes at least 24-48hrs to dry) can be done at the last minute.
My cake decorating skills are not great, so I didn’t have high expectations of how my cake would look. However, I was pleasantly surprised with the end result!
For the rich fruit cake
Click here for the recipe
For the marzipan layer
500g ready-made *marzipan (I used ASDA)
Icing sugar for dusting
2-3 tablespoons apricot jam, warmed and sieved
For the fondant icing
500g ready-made *fondant icing (I used Waitrose and liked it very much)
Icing sugar for dusting (plus additional to make a paste to stick the coloured fondant icing)
1 tablespoon brandy (or you can use boiled water that has cooled) to brush over the top of the marzipan
*Coloured fondant icing of choice to decorate (I used Dr Oetker)
To marzipan the cake
Before rolling out the marzipan, measure up the side of the cake, across the top and down the other side, so you know how big you need the marzipan to be.
Brush the cake all over with melted apricot jam.
Spend a moment or two kneading the marzipan on a clean surface that has been lightly dusted with icing sugar. This will soften it and make it much easier to work with.
Dust your rolling pin and work surface again with plenty of icing sugar and roll out the marzipan to the size you require.
Give the rolling pin another quick dust of icing sugar before gently wrapping the marzipan around it and lowering it over the centre of the cake. Drape the marzipan over the entire cake.
Dust your hands with icing sugar and work your way around the cake smoothing the marzipan out and pressing it firmly against the cake. Once you’re happy with how it looks, grab a small sharp knife and trim off the excess marzipan from around the bottom of the cake.
It’s best to leave the marzipan to dry out for at least 24hrs before you ice it. I stored our marzipan covered cake in an airtight container under the stairs, as it’s nice and cool there. I don’t feel that it’s as crucial to dry the marzipan out quite so much, when fondant icing rather than royal icing is being used.
To fondant ice the cake
Place the cake either onto a cake board, serving platter or lid of a cake tin/storage container.
As with the marzipan it’s best to spend a moment or two kneading the fondant icing on a clean surface that has been lightly dusted with icing sugar.
Measure the cake again, as the marzipan layer will have slightly altered the size of the cake.
Dust your rolling pin and work surface with plenty of icing sugar before rolling out the fondant icing.
Brush the cake all over with brandy or cooled boiled water. This will make the marzipan tacky and allow the fondant icing to bond nicely.
Give the rolling pin another quick dust of icing sugar before gently wrapping the fondant icing around it and lowering it over the centre of the cake.
Drape the fondant icing over the entire cake.
Dust your hands with icing sugar and work your way around the cake smoothing the fondant out and pressing it firmly against the cake. Once you’re happy with how it looks, grab a small sharp knife and trim off the excess fondant icing.
Decorating the cake
I decorated our cake using various colours of ready-made fondant icing. I used a cutter to cut out the Christmas tree.
And then rolled up tiny balls of different coloured icing to make the baubles.
To secure the tree and ‘baubles’ in place I added a drop of cooled boiled water to a tablespoon of icing sugar and brushed enough onto the fondant icing to stick the tree down and then dabbed a touch on each coloured ball before sticking them onto the tree.
I used a cutter to cut out a ‘star’ to stick at the top of the tree.
I’d suggest leaving your cake for a few hours before tucking to give the marzipan and fondant icing chance to bond together.
Recipe notes and suggestions:
Store the cake in an airtight container in a cool place. I can’t say from experience how long a fruit cake covered with fondant icing will keep, but after googling, I’m suggesting up to 5 weeks.
As I mentioned before, my cake decorating skills are not the best and I feel that you will make a much better job of making your Christmas cake look fabulous. Should you not want to run the added expense of buying coloured fondant icing, you could instead use *food colouring to colour any leftover fondant icing. Or simply tie a brightly coloured ribbon around your cake; a look I particularly like.
If you are keen that your cake has a super flat surface, turn it over and decorate the bottom rather than the top.
Happy decorating and hope you thoroughly enjoy your Christmas cake!
*Check this product to ensure no gluten containing ingredients or ‘may contain’ or ‘not suitable’ warnings on the pack. If in doubt leave it out.