These pretty jewelled cakes are show-stoppers, writes EUNICE POWER
Last year I shared my family Christmas cake recipe, a wonderful, rich cake, traditionally decorated with almond paste and royal icing. This year I have decided to go in a different direction.
Sugarcraft is now a big business and one that I am not very familiar with. A traditionalist at heart, I had never used roll-out icing until a few days ago. But, inspired by a wedding cake I saw last summer, I decided to go down the route of making spherical cakes and decorating them as Christmas baubles.
I bought my tins online from lakeland.com. They came in three sizes – small, medium and large so I bought two of each – my first Christmas purchase. Following on from that was a visit to Brennan’s cook shop in Cork which is an Aladdin’s cave of all things sugarcraft. It stocks specialist books, edible glitter and lustre sprays, gold dust, piping nozzles, multi-coloured sugar paste and silver, gold and pearl balls – all essentials in the baking cupboard for Christmas. They have a website, cookshop.ie, but it isn’t any substitute for a visit to the shop.
I experimented with various recipes, and came to the conclusion that a Madeira cake recipe worked best for the baubles, especially one with almonds, which gave the cakes a damper texture and longer life.
Once the cakes were cold I trimmed the uneven bits and stuck the two halves together with some butter icing. I then put them in the freezer for 20 minutes so the butter icing would set. When I took them out of the freezer, I trimmed off the excess icing that had oozed out so I had a perfect ball.
I then rolled out my block of icing, painted my ball with some warm apricot jam, said a prayer and proceeded to cover my first ball. It took a little time to get it all even. I used a palate knife to gently smooth out any lumps and bumps. A little patience is certainly required here.
I then made some royal icing, I used instant royal icing and used some liquid gold colouring to give it a festive colour. The addition of the colouring made the icing a little runny, so I added some icing sugar which made it firmer. I then piped the icing onto the balls; it got easier as I got more confident.
I used some pearl balls and other decorations to add bling and then went over them with some lustre spray. The end result is highly impressive, as you will see from the photograph. The piping, along with the spray, covered up any blemishes – the ultimate cosmetic camouflage palette for cakes.
I used a chocolate cake recipe for my cake balls, as I knew it would be a hit with my young sons, but feel free to experiment – a good lemon Madeira cake would work well. Just substitute 50g of ground almonds for flour if almonds are not already in the recipe and use regular flour, not self-raising.
LUSTROUS CAKE BAUBLES
For the cake, I used the following recipe. This is a great chocolate cake recipe to have in your arsenal – if making for other purposes use two 23cm round sandwich cake tins. It will take about 40 minutes to bake in those.
185g butter, at room temperature (the butter should be as soft as face cream)