A Traditional Christmas Fruitcake, Part Two: Making it pretty

Fruitcake is a love-it-or-hate-it holiday tradition. In fact, I didn't realize fruitcake could be this good. If you could compare the flavor to a color, it’d be the deepest amber imaginable: intensely warm yet simultaneously dark and boozy and packed with chunks of fruit and nuts. And now, they’re heavy with all the good stuff. A heavy cake that is so easy to decorate. Next is to give it the full on British Christmas cake treatment, which involves 2 layers of icing, marzipan and fondant icing. Marzipan to seal in the freshness of cake and fondant icing to make it look absolutely BEAUTIFUL. There is no icing that is easier to smooth on a cake than fondant. And once you tasted homemade, you never go out to buy those plastic tasting versions in tubs. This pretty fruitcake is definitely a show stopper.
What could be more delicious for a tea time treat on Christmas day than a slice of fruit cake. I can't wait to slice it on Christmas. 

For the fruitcake recipe, click here.

Marzipan can be bought readymade, they are smoother in texture using almond paste. However, they can be quite expensive. Marzipan might seem different to make but rest assure that you will have marzipan ready in less than an hour.  Homemade versions always taste much better and much cheaper. The texture will be grainier than store bought.

Homemade Marzipan
350g icing sugar plus extra for dusting
350g fine ground almonds
3 large eggs, one of them separated
3/4 teaspoon pure almond extract
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon brandy
1 tablespoon glycerin 

+ Marzipan, the first layer. 
Begin by sifting the icing and into a large bowl, then stir in the whole eggs and the egg yolk. Place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water and whisk for about 12 minutes until the mixture is thick and fluffy. Then remove the bowl from the heat and sit the base in a couple of inches of cold water. Whisk in the almond extract, lemon juice and brandy and continue to whisk until the mixture is cool. At this point stir in the ground almonds and knead to form a firm paste. Now divide the paste by cutting off one-third of it. Dust a working surface with icing sugar and roll the smaller piece of paste to about 1/4in thick and large enough to cover the top of the cake (you can either use a string for this or else the base of the cake tin as a guide). Next brush the top of the cake all over with egg white, then turn it upside down and place it centrally on the rolled-out almond paste. Using a palette knife, press the edges of the paste up all round the edges of the cake, then turn the cake the right way up to deal with the sides.Once again dust the working surface with icing sugar, and roll out the rest of the paste into a long strip. Divide this in half lengthways, then brush the sides of the cake with egg white and fix the two strips of almond paste all around the sides – you can smooth over the joins, first with a knife then with a rolling pin. Leave the cake, covered with a clean cloth, for as long as possible up to seven days.

Homemade Fondant
- Wilton Fondant
(recipe enough to cover 2, 8in cakes)
1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup Glucose
2 tablespoon solid vegetable shortening (Crisco)
1 tablespoon Glycerin
800-1kg icing sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

+ Fondant, the pretty layer. 
Combine gelatin and cold water; let stand until thick, about 3 minutes. Place gelatin mixture in top of double boiler and heat and stir until dissolved. Add glucose, mix well. Stir in shortening; just before completely melted remove from heat. Add glycerin, flavoring and color. Cool until lukewarm. Next, place half the icing sugar in a large bowl; make a well. Pour the lukewarm gelatin mixture into the well and stir with a wooden spoon, mixing in sugar and adding more, a little at a time, until stickiness disappears. Knead in remaining sugar. Knead until the fondant is smooth, pliable and does not stick to your hands. If fondant is too soft, add more sugar; if too stiff, add water (a drop at a time). You can use the fondant immediately or store in airtight container in a cool, dry place at room temperature. 

+ How to cover the fruitcake with fondant icing for a perfectly smooth finish. 
Divide the fondant into half. Knead fondant icing until it’s smooth and pliable, this will prevent the icing cracking. Then dust a work surface with icing sugar, and roll the icing out, smooth-side down until it is about 1/4 in thick and large enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. You can check the icing is big enough with a ruler or piece of string. Next, brush the surface of the marzipan-covered cake evenly and lightly with water. By using a rolling pin, carefully roll the icing onto the rolling pin, then unroll it on the cake. Smooth the icing across the top of the cake and carefully ease it smooth along the sides. You can trim the excess icing, leaving a small border and press smooth against the side of the cake. Using a cake smoother, press it evenly across the top of the cake to push out any air bubbles and then run it carefully down and around the side of the cake to seal it. If you have any air bubbles prick them with a pin to remove the air and use the smoother to press the area flat.

-Best Wishes... ss

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,