On to the plate

Experimenting with flavours, colours and style of food served at our place

Christmas Cake – it’s a wrap


It’s been a slow process, but finally the Christmas cake is decorated.

Merry Christmas messageI’ve been plodding along doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that for a few nights.

The Poinsettia sugar flower I had planned to make has gone no further. I grated the top of my index finger on Monday evening and it was deep enough that even lightly brushing over the wound sent all sorts of weird uncomfortable feelings through my body. Applying any pressure to a ball tool was out of the question.

It was time to come up with Plan B, or was it Plan C?

Wednesday night while waiting for Mr Fussy to escape from work I meandered through the Papertree and spotted a Martha Stewart silicon mould I’d been trying to get hold of for months. If I could make it work then this was my backup plan. Thankfully it worked, though I had to put the mould into the freezer to get the pieces out easily. I used the Bakels Almond fondant for the letters. I wanted them to stand out on the white cake. I also sprayed them this morning with PME Pearl lustre. They’re now nice and sparkly. Several weekends ago piped some Poinsettia in royal icing. In the back of my mind I knew I could use these, somehow. Initially it was going to be at the corners on the cake board to try and take the focus off the joins. I placed them on top of the cake at each corner and asked Mr Fussy for his opinion. He was so-so about it. Then after fixing the letters to the top I placed the Poinsettia as you see here and immediately he gave it the thumbs up. It’s slightly less formal I guess, and a little more interesting then being plonked at each corner.

So here’s the top of the cake.

Merry ChristmasI was talking to Josie on Wednesday about an idea I had of doing a nativity scene in silhouette.  I had a look online for images and found two that I liked. I liked them for different reasons and I ended up merging the two together. Although I really wasn’t sure how it would work at the time. The first cut out worked fine, but I knew my fondant was a little too thick. Using the craft knife was dragging the fondant a little too much. I was happy enough but knew if I had time I’d give it another crack rolling the fondant slightly thinner, and learning a few things from the first attempt. The second went better and I managed to get two pieces of the silhouette I’d accidentally discarded on my first. I also rolled another piece of fondant to practice using food gel colours (thinned with Vodka) to see if I could get the other part of the image I liked. In the end I liked my practice enough to make it the final part of overall look. I just had to let it dry since it was again a little thicker and it had already begun to stick to the cutting board.

Preparing Nativity SceneSo here’s the front of the cake. I don’t go to church but was brought up in a Christian family. I’m not really sure why I wanted the nativity scene. I wanted this years cake to represent all things that make me feel like it’s Christmas.

NativityMoving to the next side, the forest.

Colouring inI had made the fondant trees on Friday evening and I put the sparkly sort of glitter on them last night. I also had a few with the white nonpareils but I didn’t like that. Mr Fussy wanted me to put another deer on the cake. The deer that were so awful to work with for the cake he took to work last Monday. I cringed inside but knew I would give it my best shot since Mr Fussy doesn’t ask for much and he is such a kid at Christmas time. I wanted him to have a say. The deer was a very slow extraction from the cutter but it worked pretty well, thankfully. All I needed to do was add the red nose, which I fully expect to fall off during the drive to Natalie’s. I had to add some “spacers” behind some of the trees that were sitting at the front over the trees at the back. I also used a Alphabet mould this morning and made some other fondant trees, two of which I’ve used here. The two that don’t have any of the icy glittery stuff. Just nice to see a bit more interest in the forest. I used piping gel to adhere these, and piping gel, although it’s clear, is noticble when you misplace something and move it. It’s like a little bit of snail trail left behind. I ended up with a smear in front of the trees so I decided to smear a little more then add more icy glitter which I think makes the cake board become part of the scene. I like it anyway.

Setting out the forestAll the time I was planning the cake I wanted it blend in some way. Even though I was going for very different scenes I didn’t want it to be completely disjointed. And yes each side on its own tells a story, but I’ve tried to do something that helps blend one side into the others. In this case I added one of the Christmas ornaments, one that had a snowflake on it.  The way “Rudolph’s” stance is, it kinda looks like he’s just kneed a bouncy ball.

So here’s the forest side.

RudolphMoving right along. The Ornaments. I love Christmas ornaments.

Hanging ornamentsFriday night I cut out some purple and red circles and used my new Moroccan cutter as well. Then I was joining both the red and purple together and got a nice mottled look. I decided to cut circles of this too. The nativity scene is also purple. I’m trying to keep the colour pallet fairly simple and not use too many colours. What do you call the bits you hang the ornaments from? These were fiddly to make. I started with rolling a long sausage and then ended up just cutting little bits and making a small ball which I then indented all the way around using various tools. I waited for them to try and then cut them in half so that the flat side would sit nicely against the cake. The only drama with the ornaments is that the piping gel wasn’t enough to hold them fast to the cake and the balls were slipping away from the hanging bit. I swapped to royal icing which helped, but I still had to keep directing the balls back up the cake. Saturday night I used my second parchment cone (I’ve been watching a few Julia Ussher videos and she swears by parchment cones) with a bit of royal icing I’d had in the freezer. I then piped lots and lots and lots and lots of dots in various organised and disorganised patters, in different sizes and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I loved the ornaments so much that I almost used every single one of them by allowing them to spill out onto the cake board.  I tossed up adding string so it was clear they were hanging. I really didn’t have the height in the cake to pull it off, so rather than try and make it work I decided it was one of those times less is more. And here’s the ornaments.

OrnamentsAnd that brings us around to the final side. Mr Fussy really wanted Santa on the cake. I made Santa to sit with his legs hanging over the side, but there wasn’t enough depth to allow for that, plus he tends to tetter on the edge and it wouldn’t take much for him to topple off. He already had a spill this week and again the candy cane broke. I was not making a 3rd hand.

Spacing out the presentsWhile I had all the fondant out Friday night I cut out some stars. Then I rolled the fondant a little thicker than I wanted the end piece to be, placed the stars on top and then pressed them in lightly and rolled some more. I cut the shapes in a non-traditional way (for some) and then set about trying to figure out how to make bows for them. That was a bit fiddly. This morning I used silver liquid (edible) paint for some bows and Sugarflair (edible) antique gold lustre powder with vodka to make a liquid. The gold was really tacky and I accidentally got one stuck to my finger and it just would not drop off. Not until it was upside down losing all that paint. It took about 3 layers to get a good coverage. The cross in the star in the nativity scene is also the same gold. The presents are my favourite, even though I loved finishing the ornaments, and I love the simplicity of the nativity scene. I just love the way the presents have come together. I love the shapes and colours. Or maybe it’s just that I love getting presents 😀 Initially I was going to have some other presents on the cake board but Mr Fussy and I decided that the side looked good just as it was.

So finally here’s the last side.

PresentsThis afternoon I’ve made my last lot of Christmas Mince Pies and made my first and last batch of shortbread. I’m calling it a wrap for Christmas baking. I’m done.

Of course there’s more truffles to finish (my Christmas Puddings) and then food to prepare for Christmas day. I’m working tomorrow but have Tuesday off and have a full day of things to keep me busy in the kitchen.

Whatever your plans are, have a safe and happy holiday break.

Merry Christmas from Mr Fussy and I.


2 thoughts on “Christmas Cake – it’s a wrap

  1. As always, an amazing effort. You deserve a nice break. I do hope your Christmas is special to you in the way you enjoy it. With no family around us, we are volunteering at the community lunch for 300 people. It’s wonderful to count your blessings. Merry Christmas.

    • Hi Alison. I hope you had a great day yesterday helping many others finding a little bit of joy in Christmas. I’ve got a new project for this weekend and I’ve been busy making small sugar flower decorations. But it’s fun. I hope it all comes together. Of course I’ll have a post about it. I can’t wait to get a run in tomorrow. As is traditional, far too much food was eaten, and we had a second round of it today, and a second day where I didn’t get a run in. One month to go before my brothers wedding. Better stop baking! (not likely to happen ;-))

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