Hello and welcome to my first baking skills post about how to ice an occasion cake. I have called this traditional as it is more of a traditional style, the edges are rounded and it has more of a home made feel, this is not the high tier, super crisp edges and clean line look that is very trendy at the moment- I do plan on doing this in the future though! If you think the icing looks odd, I plan to put some fresh flowers in the gap on the top around the silver leaves. This is more of a ‘how to’ on the icing itself, rather than cake decoration…
So here we go, this post is quite heavy on photos but hopefully it will be of help if you’re looking to ice a cake!
First you need a cake…
This cake I made a few weeks ago and I have been feeding it, it is a ginger and sultana fruit cake, you can find the recipe and info about feeding a cake on that post (click here). So you’ve made your cake, now you need to ice it. Step one is to get your cake on to the board, to get a really flat top I have put mine on the board upside down so that the super flat bottom is now the top! I could have trimmed up the edges of the cake to make it look even neater, but I was happy with a bit of movement in the edges on this occasion.
You need to make the marzipan stick to the cake with jam glue- this is a tablespoon of apricot jam and a splash of water. Heat these in the pan to boiling point- it has to get this hot otherwise the jam will ferment in the cake and go nasty and not keep… An iced fruit cake can keep for a considerable amount of time.
Brush the jam mixture all over the cake. Next you need to prepare your marzipan, you can make this yourself, but I used ready made. Use icing sugar instead of flour to flour your surfaces. Be careful, things will get very sticky very quickly! You do need to knead the marzipan even if you purchased it for at least 30 seconds. If you don’t knead it your marzipan will be more likely to crack when you try and put it over the cake. It needs to be rolled in to circle and be about 3 or 4 mm thick.
Roll it gently up in the rolling pin and layer over your cake by unrolling it. Next you need to gently spread the marzipan over the top of the cake and gently down the sides.
This is called skirting, gently lift the edges and smooth the marzipan over the sides. Go carefully so that you don’t tear the marzipan.
You can see in this one where I have accidentally torn the marzipan, this is either because it was rolled too thing or I was a bit aggressive! I went back and gently pushed this back together and then cut the edges. Don’t cut too close to the cake… you will see what I mean when you try this out but if you go too close you end up with a bit of a gap. Cut on a slight angle so that you don’t pull the marzipan away from the cake.
Once you have done this, put the spare marzipan in cling film and in the fridge- you can use it again then. If you let it dry out it is difficult to use again… Then take your cake scraper and smooth over the top and the sides of the cake, the more you do this, the better the finish you will get. And that’s it for the first layer!
To prepare for the second layer, the Royal Icing (I also purchased this) needs alcohol for its glue! Don’t over do this, a light covering with a brush. Use a spirit like brandy but don’t worry if you don’t have that, most things will work!
Follow the same steps as before with the white icing, need the icing for at least 30 seconds and roll it out in to a circle. You need to leave your white icing slightly thicker than the marzipan. It gives a better finish and you’re less likely to tear the icing.
Roll the icing over the rolling pin and gently put over the cake. Just as before, gently shape the icing around the cake, smoothing and turning the cake being careful not to tear or crease the icing. Note I have now also removed my rings so that the icing isn’t marked or torn… Follow the same steps again, trim your edges and then smooth the surfaces with the scraper and then your cake is ready to decorate! Again, if you have any left over icing, wrap it in cling film and put it in the fridge so that you can use it again.
As I said earlier, I know my icing looks a bit random but I am going to put some fresh flowers on top. These leaves I just cut by hand from the scraps and painted on a bit of silver food paint I picked up in the supermarket!
Have you got any occasion cake bakes coming up? Let me know if you try this technique by tagging me on social media!