Royal icing for Christmas cake decoration.
Turning delicious fruit cakes into fabulous gifts
2/3 jar Apricot jam
Selection of dried fruit and nuts
Icing sugar for dusting
16oz/550g Icing sugar
3 Egg whites
1 teaspoon glycerine
Cake decorations (optional)
Place about half the jar of apricot jam in a heatproof bowl with a splash of water.
Heat on half heat in the microwave (or a pan) until quite warm but not hot.
Use a blender to reduce the jam mix to a fine slurry.
With a pastry brush, paint the tops of the cakes and press the fruit and nuts on top. Carefully brush again with the jam mix to give a glaze and stick the decoration. Sprinkle with glitter dust if using.
For cakes to be iced, roll out the marzipan using a little icing sugar to dust the surface and rolling pin. Measure the diameter of the cake and cut a circle to fit. If icing the sides too, measure the circumference and height of the cake and cut out a rectangle of marzipan to fit.
Ideally, allow the glaze to dry on the fruit decoration for 24 hours before handling again and leave the marzipanned cakes for 24 hours before icing.
To make Royal icing, place the egg whites in a very clean bowl and stir in the sifted icing sugar.
Once mixed, add the glycerine and whisk at high speed for 10 minutes until it becomes very stiff and meringue-like.
Place spoonfuls on the cakes and spread with a palette knife that has been heated in a jug of hot water.
Add cake decorations and glitter if using.
Allow to dry before handling again.
I used the leftover brandy/fruit juice liquid instead of water to thin the jam.
If you are making small cakes, just icing the top is probably enough additional sugar.
For cutting the marzipan neatly, you may have a pastry or cookie cutter the right size.
I wrapped a piece of string around the cake to measure the circumference – the long side of the rectangle for covering the sides.
Sifting the icing sugar is essential – it is virtually impossible to beat out any lumps afterwards.
It is critical not to add too much glycerine – I did one year and the icing ran off the cake like droopy knickers!
Wrap the cakes in greaseproof or parchment paper and tie with a ribbon.