Christmas conjures up so many emotions, memories, and traditions. And at the heart of the rich festive food is the Christmas Cake.
I love having the opportunity to go all out to create a stunning, and often fun, centerpiece for the table.
So today I can’t wait to explore decorating ideas for Christmas cakes.
There are some simple techniques we can use to create beautiful effects easily, so that even a total beginner can achieve a wonderful cake decoration that will get everyone talking.
Let’s start with the ideal cake recipe for the perfect Christmas cake. And after the recipe we’ll look at five beautiful Christmas cake decorating ideas.
The Christmas Cake Recipe
This is the traditional cake we all love. It has that very special flavor, that just oozes Christmas. And to cover it you can use the time-honored combination of two coverings: marzipan, and sugar paste or fondant.
- 3 eggs
- 300g flour
- 250g butter
- 250g light muscovado sugar
- 1 tbsp ground mixed spice
- pinch of salt
- 410g jar of mincemeat
- 500g dried mixed fruit
- 4 tbsp brandy
- 8 inches round or 7 inches square cake tin, prepared with lining paper
- Pre-heat the oven to 135ºC / 280°F / Gas mark 1.
- In a bowl, add the eggs and the rest of the ingredients, except for the brandy.
- Beat the ingredients until the mixture is smooth.
- Add the mixture to the prepared, lined cake tin.
- Using the back of a large spoon, or your dampened hand, press the mixture into the tin until it is level.
- Bake the cake for 3 to 3.5 hours, until cooked.
- Leave it to cool for about 15 minutes.
- Poke a few small holes in the cake and pour the brandy over the cake allowing it to soak in.
- Allow the cake to cool thoroughly.
- Remove the cake from the tin and peel away the lining paper.
- Wrap it in lining paper or foil, and store in an airtight container, until you are ready to decorate. Keep the side with the holes to the top.
Marzipan is of course the perfect covering for your Christmas cake. But you can also use it to create beautiful Christmas cake decorations by molding it into shapes and figures.
- 250g peeled and finely ground almonds or almond flour
- 250g caster sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon cognac
- 2 teaspoons quality pure almond extract
- 2 eggs whites
- Process the almond flour and the caster sugar, until they are combined.
- Add the lemon juice, almond extract and rose water, and pulse in the food processor to combine.
- Add the eggs whites, and process until a thick dough is formed. If the dough is too wet and sticky, use more caster sugar and ground almonds until you get a firmer consistency.
- Turn the marzipan out onto a clean surface and knead it.
- Roll it into a log shape, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate.
- Before using the marzipan remove from the refrigerator and allow it to come to room temperature.
How to Cover your Christmas Cake
For this you’ll find that certain cake decorating supplies can be super helpful: like an icing smoother, a rotary cutter, and spatula.
- Level the top of the cake.
- Using a spatula spread apricot jam all over the top and sides. This will act as the ‘glue’ for the marzipan.
- Dust the surface with caster sugar.
- Knead the marzipan (which has been brought to room temperature) and roll it out to an approximate thickness of 5mm. You need it to be large enough to cover the cake.
- Place the marzipan over the top of the cake and then work down the sides. Be careful not to break it. Try to keep a smooth and flat surface.
- Trim the excess from around the base (using a rotary cutter if you have one). Save the leftovers for later – you use them to make decorations for the cake.
- With an icing smoother, work over the surface, fixing the marzipan to the cake and giving a smooth finish.
- Repeat the kneading and rolling process with the sugar paste or fondant.
- Using a brush, apply water to the marzipan surface, and place the rolled out sugar paste or fondant over the marzipanned cake.
- Work the sugar paste, first on the top and then the sides, as before.
- Finally, smooth the surface with your icing smoother, and trim the excess from around the base of the cake.
And there you have it… a beautifully prepared Christmas cake ready for decoration.
Top 5 Christmas Cake Decorating Ideas
Here are 5 beautiful Christmas cake decorating ideas that I am excited to share with you:
1. Gum Paste Christmas Tree Cake
The first is a simple but elegant idea for decorating a Christmas cake.
It is nice and easy, but effective. All you need is some extra sugar paste/fondant, perhaps left over from covering the cake, the cake board, and a ribbon.
Once you have covered the cake, cut out the different star shapes. You can use a Christmas cookie tree kit or a set of plastic star cookie cutters, which come in a variety of sizes to make the cut-out stars.
Place them on the cake starting with the biggest star, and finishing up with the smallest one, shaping it to look like a Christmas tree as in the image above.
Try adding some gold sparkle lustre dust for more glitz on the Christmas tree.
2. Candy Cane Cake Idea
This design is so pretty… and fun. The kids are going to love it… They’ll be so excited to get candy canes as well as cake!
And here’s another gorgeous design from Cake Whizz, also using the candy canes idea as Christmas cake decorations.
3. Red Velvet Christmas Tree Cake
Red is such a Christmasy color. And this is a surprise cake which will make the perfect centerpiece.
The cake is iced with either a cream cheese frosting or a white chocolate frosting. And the tree, or other decorations, can be created using stencils and red velvet cookies crumbs.
But the real surprise comes when you cut into the cake… see the picture below:
I love this deep rich color and it looks absolutely delicious!
Here’s the cake recipe:
Red Velvet Cake Recipe
- 240g flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 tsp cocoa powder
- 400g sugar
- 1 cup sunflower oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 60ml red food coloring
- 1 tsp cider vinegar
- ½ cup black coffee
Red Velvet Cake Preparation
- Preheat the oven to 160-170ºC / 325°F / Gas mark 3.
- In a medium sized bowl, add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa powder, and salt. Mix everything together well (being careful not to overmix).
- In a separate large bowl, mix the sugar and sunflower oil. Then add the eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and food coloring. Beat well. And add the coffee and the vinegar.
- Now, gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing thoroughly. Stop mixing when everything is fully combined – you don’t want to over mix it.
- Grease and flour two round cake tins, using butter and flour.
- Pour the batter into the two tins equally.
- Bake for 30-40 minutes. To check that the cakes are cooked through, insert a toothpick into the center of the cake – if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
- Let the cakes cool in the tin, until you can comfortably touch them. Using a knife, go around the edges of the cakes to loosen them. Gently remove the cakes from the tins and allow them to completely cool on a cooling rack.
- Cover the cakes with cream cheese frosting or white chocolate frosting. You can also make thin layers and fill them with the same frosting you’re going to use to cover the cake.
Here’s a very quick and easy way to make the white chocolate frosting:
White Chocolate Frosting Recipe
- 200g white chocolate
- 550g caster sugar
- 550g butter
- Melt the white chocolate. You can do this in a few seconds in the microwave or alternatively by using the double boiling technique. Let it cool to room temperature.
- With an electric mixer, mix the butter and the sugar until you get a creamy consistency.
- Add the melted white chocolate to the creamy mixture of butter and sugar, and beat until you get the desired consistency.
Using this frosting, you can ice your Red Velvet Cake, and you can also pipe it using a pastry/piping bag to create decorations.
4. Snowflake Cake
Deep purple is another lovely Christmasy color and if you combine it with snowflakes… Perfect!
For this Christmas cake decorating idea you get to play with two decorating recipes: gumpaste and royal icing.
You’ll need a set of snowflake shape cutters, with different sizes and different snowflake designs.
Create your design using the snowflakes, alternating the sizes, colors, and designs. Using some edible luster dust will add sparkle.
With the royal icing, you can ‘draw’ any design you want, complementing the snowflakes.
5. Meringue and Stars Cake
This is a really simple idea, but absolutely gorgeous.
Using fondant, or even marzipan, create stars to spread all over the top of a meringue covered cake!
You can of course add all sorts of extra decorations… A ribbon, some edible silver balls…
So there are my five favorites (at the moment) for Christmas… I am sure we’ll be seeing a lot more ideas as the festive season approaches, it’s so exciting!
The most difficult thing is picking which fabulous design to use.
Let us know which are your favorites, which ones you’ll be trying out, and of course show us your cake pictures in the comments below.