The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Marzipaning And Icing The Christmas Cake

kah22's picture

Marzipaning And Icing The Christmas Cake

It's almost time to marzipan and ice my Christmas cake but a few questions first

This is only my second year of baking a Christmas and I must admit I'm a little apprehensive at marzipaning and icing so I thought I'd just marzipan and ice the top of the cake but I have read that the marzipan and the icing help to keep the cake nice and fresh, so I'm wondering should I take my courage in my hands and do the complete cake?

Before going down that road, however, I'd like opinions: perhaps a nut topping, how big of a difference will it really make if I only ice the top.

It's general opions I'm after and I'm sure it will help others who like myself need that little bit of encouragement.

As always many thanks for your advice


Bakingmadtoo's picture

Hi Kevin, I am not an expert but I have decorated many cakes, including wedding cakes. Personally, if I wanted to keep the cake I would cover the whole thing, but I am sure it would keep well without it, after all people keep the top tier of the wedding cake for the first anniversary and the bottom of the cake is not iced. People have kept cake from royal weddings for over a hundred years and it has not gone mouldy. I would think kept air tight and well wrapped there would be no problem, especially if it is boozy.

Don't be intimidated by icing the whole thing though, it is really not difficult at all (unless you plan to use royal icing). As long as you have an icing smoother, they cost very little, marzipan and sugar paste are a doddle. If you decide to do the whole thing I will happily share some tips with you.

sandydog's picture


My partner, Katie, is a professional cake decorator who also teaches beginners to marzipan/ice their own cakes. 

Katie's advice is to examine your own likes/dislikes re icing (And how long you wish to keep the cake) Same thing for nuts - If you like them, use them.

If you like marzipan/icing (Or wish to keep it a long time) then cover the entire cake (Apart from the bottom - which should be on a cake board) If you are not that keen on marzipan/icing then cover the top only. A moist fruit cake will last at least a month (But not in our house cos we/our guests eat them pretty quickly) wrapped in greaseproof paper and tin foil.

With regard to the degree of difficulty - It is a bit like baking bread - Your first efforts may not look too professional but if you practice a lot you will get better and, anyway, who really cares in your friends and family what it looks like so long as you have baked and decorated with loving thoughts towards the intended recipients.

One last thing - A tip or two from the pro's - Turn your cake upside down before you cover it, at  least that way you are sure to get a smooth and level top for presentation purposes. Brush your cake with boiled/sieved apricot jam before applying the marzipan to make it stick (Otherwise it will slide off when you cut the cake) Similarly, apply cooled boiled water to the marzipan before covering with the icing.

Good luck, and happy Christmas,