Bold Baking Basics, Cakes

Simple And Beautiful Christmas Cake Decorating

4.5 from 4 votes
Let me show you how simple it is to transform a fruitcake into a Christmas centerpiece with my Simple and Beautiful Christmas Cake Decorating.

Hi Bold Bakers!

A big part of Christmas tradition in Ireland is making a decorated fruitcake — also known as a Christmas cake — and it can taste every bit as extravagant as it looks.

Made with layer upon layer of holiday flavor, from the dried fruits on the inside to the fluffy frosting that adorns it, my Christmas cake is a sight even Santa would be delighted to see. As a child I would peel off the marzipan and frosting and just eat the cake, but now I have grown to love each layer.

I’m going to show you how simple it is to transform a fruitcake into a Christmas centerpiece. What you need for this video is my Aunty Rosaleen’s Christmas Cake (or the fruitcake you already have made or purchased), my Easy Homemade Marzipan, my Rolled Fondant (or my Marshmallow Fondant), and my Royal Icing for Cake Decorating.

When Do You Decorate a Christmas Cake? (or Fruitcake?)

Since a fruit cake is mostly made with preserved fruit and sugar, the cake will keep for ages, and in fact only gets better with time as the flavors combine and develop.

This means that the cake itself — both before and after decoration — will last for months well wrapped, at room temperature. You can decorate your cake with all the bells and whistles a week before Christmas if you wish, and it will keep long after the holiday, making for one of the most decadent and festive leftovers.

Will Christmas Cake Decorating keep it moist?

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Originally, decorating a Christmas cake in this way was to preserve it and keep it moist. From the first layer that touches the cake — the apricot jam — to the last (the thick royal icing), the decorations do keep the cake moist and fresh. This is definitely a part of the tradition of making the cake, as it’s so yummy you’ll want to make sure it lasts through all the family visits and holiday parties.

How do you make marzipan?

Marzipan is the second layer that wraps around the Christmas cake. This layer adds an unmistakable almond flavor and lovely texture. It’s also what really holds the moisture in the cake, sealing it off from the air.

Marzipan is made easily at home by combining, sugar, powdered sugar, egg, ground almond and almond extract. I like to make mine at home as it’s really simple and has no added preservatives. If you don’t want to make it at home you can of course use store bought — but I’ve made the process very easy for you with my Easy Homemade Marzipan recipe!

How do you make royal icing?

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Royal icing is what coats the outside of the marzipan layer and really sets the scene for whatever decorations you’re going to use. My Royal Icing for Cake Decorating is really simple to make and only requires a few ingredients.

The icing also dries in a matter of hours, holding whatever shape you give it — and in this case it really does dry to look like a snowy winter wonderland!

Why is my royal icing too runny/thick?

Royal icing can be made for both cookies and for decorating cakes. My royal icing recipe explains how to make it thick and fluffy, perfect for decorating a Christmas cake.

If your royal icing is too runny, you most likely were using a recipe that was meant for cookies, and using a technique called flooding. If you follow my recipe for making Royal Icing for Cake Decorating, you should get the perfect consistency.

What You’ll Need!

And don’t forget to follow Bigger Bolder Baking on Pinterest for more recipes and ideas!

Simple and Beautiful Christmas Cake Decorating Recipe

4.5 from 4 votes
Let me show you how simple it is to transform a fruitcake into a Christmas centerpiece with my Simple and Beautiful Christmas Cake Decorating.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 12
Prep Time 30 mins
Total Time 30 mins
Let me show you how simple it is to transform a fruitcake into a Christmas centerpiece with my Simple and Beautiful Christmas Cake Decorating.
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 1/2 recipe Marshmallow Fondant
  • Gold luster or edible gold flakes
  • 1 Aunty Rosaleen's Irish Christmas Cake
  • 1 cup Apricot Jam, heated
  • 2 recipes Homemade Marzipan
  • 1 recipe Easy Royal Icing for Cake Decorating

Instructions

For the Gold Stars

  • Dust your surface with powdered sugar and roll out the Marshmallow Fondant to 1/4 inch thick. 
  • Stamp out about 10 to 12 different sized stars. 
  • Brush the stars lightly with water and sprinkle over the edible gold flakes until the surface is covered. Leave overnight to dry on a cookie sheet (Allowing them to dry means they will stand upright on the cake when decorated).

Decorating the Christmas Cake

  • Place the Christmas Cake on a serving platter or a cake board (doing this step first is important as it is very hard to move once decorated). 
  • Brush the cake with the hot apricot jam. This is the glue that the Marzipan will stick to. Set aside. 
  • Dust your surface with powdered sugar and roll out the marzipan to 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick. Roll out a few inches slightly wider than the surface of your cake for it to cover the sides.
  • Using the rolling pin, lift marzipan over the cake and carefully unroll. Ease down the sides, smooth the surface and trim the base.
  • Using a spatula or off set, smear Royal Icing over the cake roughly to give the appearance of snow. 
  • Stack the stars in the center of the cake. Lean them against each other for support. This creates a lovely 3D effect. Decorate the sides of cake with a ribbon if desired.
  • Store the decorated cake at room temperature in an airtight container for 4 weeks. 

Recipe Notes

If you decorate your Christmas cake the week before you need it. 

Christmas Cake Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 12
Prep Time 40 mins
Total Time 40 mins
Author: Gemma Stafford
Servings: 12

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup apricot jam
  • 1 recipe homemade Marzipan
  • 1 recipe royal icing for decorating Christmas cakes
  • fondant stars
  • edible gold
  • decorative ribbon

Instructions

Recipe Notes

If you decorate your Christmas cake the week before you need it. 

Watch The Recipe Video!

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Comments & Reviews

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Chris Naulder
Guest
Chris Naulder
10 months ago

Gemma I really like the look of your aunt’s Christmas cake, but, as we are a non-alcoholic family,is there a suitable substitute for the whiskey?

Haley
Guest
11 months ago

I love the look of the stars on top of the cake

Mary Hatch
Guest
Mary Hatch
11 months ago

Some day I am going to try to make this. I have to tell you that I just love you & the way you present things. You make everything so simple! I am a regular email subscriber & you need to know that you are extreeeemly appreciated. Thank you and MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Member
Shikha Bajwala
11 months ago

Hi gemma
It’s Shikha here… loved the recipe… u r extremely talented… I always eagerly wait for ur recipes every week… Thanks for the amazing recipes…
I would like to suggest you that it would be very very great if u show recipe of making homemade cheddar cheese and mozzarella cheese… Many people including me don’t find it here… it will be very very helpful to a lot many people out there… hope you upload a video of it soon…

Sharon1234
Member
Sharon1234
11 months ago

Hi Gemma,

How to make bitter cream frosting, or the cream which tastes bitter in truffles

R Woolf
Guest
R Woolf
11 months ago

All your recipe e mails are reaching me then will not download. I have resend them to myself.
Yours are the only emails l receive that this happens to.
Can anyone help?
Robtw. Xx

Member
Sonali Rai
11 months ago

Just amazing today I will definitely try this decoration for my Christmas dry fruit cake. thanks so much for this wonderful recipe….????

About Us

Meet Gemma

About Us

Meet Gemma

Hi Bold Bakers! I’m Gemma Stafford, a professional chef originally from Ireland, and I want to help you bake with confidence anytime, anywhere! No matter your skills, I have you covered. Sign up for a FREE profile and join millions of other Bold Bakers in the community for new dessert recipes, baking techniques, and more every week!

Buy the Bigger Bolder Baking Cookbook by Gemma Stafford