Sunday, 15 December 2013

Tutorial: Christmas gift cake

Christmas gift cake, as made by EJ
It's the most wonderful time of the year! Christmas is fast approaching and in celebration, I've put together a tutorial to make a Christmas gift cake (above) - showing you how to make your own little snowman and penguin figurines, mini presents and how to carve, ice, decorate and stack the three-tiered sponge cake - so be prepared for a pretty hefty read (with lots of pictures, of varying quality...).

The lovely people at Renshaw contacted me with a Christmas challenge - to use Renshaw products to create a Christmas themed baked treat, they kindly sent me a box of goodies as a starting point:



A box of goodies sent to me by Renshaw
I've always baked for my family at Christmas - and I love the idea of creating a show-stopping Christmas bake as a group gift. The cake is three tiered, with a snow layer for the base - the top layer is a square carved cake, iced to look like a Christmas present!


Instead of traditional fruit cake, the tiers are sponge - I used my basic Victoria Sponge recipe for the cakes, introducing a little seasonal spice with the addition of stem ginger buttercream - but you could use any flavour sponge and buttercream you like.


The decorations on the cake are all hand modelled - when modelling with regalice, tylo powder is essential. The addition of a little tylo powder means that instead of waiting for days for a modelled item to set, it will be ready within a matter of hours (if not sooner). I'd still recommend making the penguin, snowman and tiny presents the day before, just to be sure. If you scroll down you'll find photo tutorials for all of the hand-modelled details.



Another piece of advice is to prep your surface with a little trex or very fine dusting of cornflour before rolling out the regalice - this will prevent it from sticking and will make things a lot easier for you.


Without further ado - the ingredients, recipe and decoration instructions are below:


For the cakes:

12.5cm cakes:

  • 2 x 12.5cm round cake tins
  • 1 large egg
  • 58g sugar
  • 58g butter
  • 3/4tsp vanilla
  • 75g self raising flour
  • 3/4tsp baking powder

15cm cakes:

  • 2 x 15cm round cake tins
  • 2 large eggs
  • 88g caster sugar
  • 88g butter
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 113g self raising flour
  • 1tsp baking powder

Square gift cake:
  • A few slices of madeira cake - you could use this lovely recipe by Nigella (and freeze the leftover cake until you're ready to eat it), or cheat - and buy one ready made.

For the ginger buttercream

  • 250g butter, soft at room temperature
  • 500g icing sugar, sifted
  • 100ml water
  • 2tsp stem ginger
  • 4tsp stem ginger syrup

Cake decorating ingredients

  • 500g block Renshaw Decorice white
  • 250g block Renshaw Decorice lincoln green
  • 2 x 250g blocks block Renshaw Decorice poppy red
  • A small amount of Renshaw Decorice jet black
  • A small amount of Renshaw Decorice orange
  • A cake decorators pen in black
  • Tylo powder
  • Edible glue (you can make this by mixing 1 part tylo to 30 parts water and leaving overnight)
  • Gold lustre dust
  • Useful: A little Trex or cornflour for preventing the regalice sticking as you roll it out

Special tools:

  • A palette knife
  • A craft knife
  • A 25cm, round cake drum
  • A 13cm thin cake board
  • A 6.5cm x 6.5cm thin square cake board
  • A food safe paintbrush
  • A detail embosser with a stitch wheel
  • Plastic straws
  • A 2cm snowflake embossed plunger cutter
  • A 1cm circle plunger cutter
  • A 4mm circle plunger cutter
  • A piping nozzle with a very fine round tip (approx 2mm)
  • An icing smoother
  • The small end of an icing modelling bone tool

To make the cakes:
1) Line & grease two cake tins of the size needed.
2) On a low heat, melt the butter and leave to cool slightly.
3) Pre-heat the oven to 170C / 338F.
4) Separate eggs, using an electric mixer, beat the egg whites until fluffy, gradually add the 
sugar while continuing to beat.
5) Add the egg yolks, butter and vanilla extract and mix on a low setting.
6) By hand, sift and fold the self raising flour into the mixture.
7) Bake for 25 minutes, until golden, risen and springy.
8) Cool in the tin for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the ginger buttercream:
1) In an electric mixer, beat the butter until it's soft and fluffy.
2) Gradually add the icing sugar, a few tablespoons at a time -  and the water, a few teaspoons at a time while beating on a low setting. Keep an eye on the consistency, if it gets too soft, add a little more icing sugar, if it's too dry, add a little more water 1/2tsp at a time.
3) Stir through the stem ginger and syrup - keep in a covered bowl until needed.

To cover the base board:


1) Knead a sprinkling of tylo powder into a chunk of the white regalice (approx125g)
2) Roll out until it's approximately 3mm thick and large enough to cover the base board.
3) Lay over the base board and trim away excess icing from the edges.
4) Extending the snowflake plunger cutter, press into the icing to emboss with snowflakes.
5) Leave to one side to set.

To make the snowman:
Sugar paste snowman photo tutorial - click for a larger view
1) Knead a sprinkling of tylo powder into some of the white regalice and roll a small ball for the snowman's head.
2) Poke an indent for the nose using the small end of an icing bone tool.
3) Roll a short carrot shape for the nose, to fit well within the indent.
4) Fix the nose into the indent with a dot of edible glue.
5) When the head has set, draw eyes and a mouth on with the cake decorator's pen.
6) Roll a lump of white regalice into a stumpy shape for the body and flatten off the top a little to support the head.
7) Use a little edible glue to fix the snowman's head onto the body
8) Knead a sprinkling of tylo powder into a very small amount of chocolate regalice, use the 1cm round plunger cutter to cut one disc.
9) By hand, roll out a little ball of chocolate regalice to sit on top of the disc.
10) Roll two sides of the disc up slightly to meet the edge of the circle.
11) Fix to the top of the snowman's head at a jaunty angle with a dot of edible glue.
12) To make the scarf, knead a little tylo powder into a small amount of the green regalice. Cut a rectangle approximately 10cm x 1cm (as the scarf).
13) Using the craft knife, cut a fringe into either end of the scarf.
14) Wrap the scarf around the snowman's neck and support either end with some rolled up tissue paper - so that the scarf looks like it's blowing in the wind - leave to set.
15) To make the buttons, cut three discs from the chocolate icing using the 4mm round cutter. Use the piping end of a very fine round nozzle to indent the buttons.
16) Fix the buttons onto the snowman with small dots of edible glue.

To make the penguin:


Sugar paste penguin photo tutorial - click for a larger view
1) Knead a sprinkling of tylo powder into some of the black regalice and roll into a stumpy shape for the body and flatten off the top a little to support the head.
2) Roll out a little of the black regalice to a thickness of approximately 2mm and use the craft knife to cut shapes for the penguin's wings.
3) Attach the wings to the penguin's body with a little edible glue, curve the tips of the wings upwards and support with some rolled up tissue paper - leave to set.
4) Knead a little tylo powder into a small chunk of white regalice, roll out thinly and use the craft knife to cut out a curved white shape for the penguin's belly.
5) Stick this onto the body with a little edible glue.
6) Knead a sprinkling of tylo powder into some of the orange regalice, roll two little balls approx. 5mm width - these will be the penguin's feet.
7) Flatten the feet at one side and pinch the other into a teardrop shape.
8) Use the craft knife to make little indents for the penguin's toes.
9) Slide the feet slightly underneath the penguin and glue in place. 
10) Roll a ball shape for the penguin's head. 
11) Poke an indent for the nose using the small end of an icing bone tool.
12) Roll a short carrot shape for the nose, to fit well within the indent and secure with some edible glue.
13) Use the 4mm circle cutter to cut two white discs for the penguin's eyes
14) Fix the eyes onto the penguin's face with a dot of edible glue.
15) Use a little more edible glue to fix the penguin;s head onto it's body and leave to set.
16) Once the penguin's eyes have set, draw large semi-circle pupils on with the black cake decorator's pen.

*Follow the same process as the snowman tutorial to make the scarf for the penguin*

To make the tiny presents:


1) Knead a little tylo powder into some red and green regalice. Make little cubes of different sizes for the presents from the red regalice (approx 1cm - 2cm).
2) Roll out the green regalice thinly and use the craft knife to slice thin lengths of ribbon.
3) Lay the ribbon over the cubes and secure at the base.
4) Cut two rectangles of green regalice, approximately 4cm x 1cm and 0.5cm x 2cm.
5) Fold either end of the longer rectangle in to meet in the centre.
6) Gently pinch the top layer in at the middle,
7) Do the same for the base layer.
8) Wrap the smaller rectangle around the centre of the bow and secure at the back.
9) Fix on top of one of the cubes with a dot of edible glue.
10) Repeat these steps (alternating the colours) to make lots of little presents for the top of your cake.

To cover and decorate the 15cm cakes:


1) Sandwich the two 15cm cakes together with some of the ginger buttercream.
2) Use a palette knife to cover the sandwiched cakes in buttercream.
3) Knead and roll out the white regalice until it's approximately 3mm thick and large enough to cover the cake.


4) Lift onto the cake and smooth down the sides to cover, trim away any excess icing.


5) Using a clean palette knife, carefully lift the cake and position on the covered base board.
6) Finish smoothing the icing with a cake smoother and using the edge of a palette knife, gently tuck the raw trimmed edges of regalice beneath the cake.


7) As with the cake board, gently indent the surface of the cake with snowflakes. 
8) Re-roll some of the leftover icing and cut out snowflakes - attach to the sides and edges of the cake with a little edible glue.
9) Store the remaining regalice in an air tight container until ready to use (to prevent it drying out).

To cover the 12.5cm cakes:
1) Glue one of the 12.5cm cakes to the 13cm base board with a little of the ginger buttercream. 
2) Sandwich the two cakes together with buttercream.
3) Use a palette knife to cover the sandwiched cakes in buttercream.
4) Knead and roll out the poppy red regalice until it's approximately 3mm thick and large enough to cover the cake.


5) Lift onto the cake and smooth down the sides to cover, trim away any excess icing.
6) Store the remaining regalice in an air tight container until ready to use (to prevent it drying out).

To stack the cakes:


1) Decide how you'd like the red cake to sit on top of the white cake, then insert a few plastic straws (4-6) into the cake to use as supports.


2) Carefully trim each straw so that they are flush with the regalice.
3) Lift the red cake on it's base board onto the white cake and position carefully.
4) Finish smoothing the icing with a cake smoother and using the edge of a palette knife, gently tuck the raw trimmed edges of regalice beneath the cake.

To decorate the 12.5cm (red) cakes:
1) Roll out the remaining white regalice and cut shapes using the snowflake and circle cutters.


2) Use the edible glue to fix the snowflakes and circles, alternating, in a band around the circumference of the cake.
3) Mix a little gold lustre dust with a few drops of water and paint onto the snowflake and circle band - leave to dry.

To construct and cover the square gift cake:
1) Cut three slices of madeira cake, trimming the edges so you are left with squares approximately 2cm x 6cm x 6cm.
2) Glue one of the squares onto the base board with a little of the buttercream.


3) Stack and sandwich the squares together with the ginger buttercream.
4) Using a palette knife, cover the sandwiched cake with ginger buttercream
5) Knead and roll out the lincoln green regalice until it's approximately 3mm thick and large enough to cover the cake.


6) Lift onto the cake and smooth down the sides to cover, trim away any excess icing.
7) Finish smoothing the icing with a cake smoother and using the edge of a palette knife, gently tuck the raw trimmed edges of regalice beneath the cake.

To make the gift tag:
1) Knead a sprinkling of tylo powder into a small chunk of white regalice and roll out to approximately 2mm thickness.
2) Using the craft knife, by hand, cut out a rectangle approximately 4cm x 2.5cm.
3) Roll the detail embosser along one short edge of the rectangle.


4) Position on top of the green gift cake so that it lays across one edge (use a little edible glue to secure if necessary), support with some rolled up tissue paper to encourage a nice curve in the shape of the label - leave to set.

To make the ribbon band:


1) Roll out a little of the poppy red regalice to a thickness of approximately 2mm and cut a length 1.5cm wide and long enough to lay over the green cake as the ribbon.


2) Use the detail embosser to impress stitch detail along either edge of the ribbon.


3) Lift and lay over the cake, trimming the ends and tucking them beneath the cake with the edge of a palette knife (as before).

To make the large bow: 


1) Knead a little tylo powder into a chunk of the red regalice and roll out a length approximately 2mm thick.
2) Use the craft knife to cut a ribbon 1.5cm wide and 15cm long.


3) Emboss the length either side using the detail  embosser.


4) Fold either edge into the centre, over the top of a little rolled up tissue paper (this will support the open bow shape as it sets).

5) Pinch the top-layer centre of the bow together.
6) Gently pinch the base layer centre of the bow together.


7) Cut a smaller length of ribbon, 1cm wide and 3.5cm long - emboss the lengths as before.
8) Carefully wrap this around the centre of the bow and secure at the back (use a little edible glue if necessary).


9) Cut two shorter lengths of ribbon to use as the ends, emboss as before, cut a 'v' out of one end. Arrange with a slight ripple in the fabric and leave to set.

To stack and finish the gift cake:
1) Once the gift tag has set, the green gift cake can be stacked on top of the red cake.


2) Following the same process as before, poke straws into the red cake until they meet the base board, snipping the tops so that they are flush with the regalice.
3) Carefully lift the gift cake on top of the supports.


4) As the gift tag has now set - use the cake decorators pen to write a christmas message.


5) Once the large red bow and ribbons have set, remove the tissue paper and fix onto the top of the green gift cake with a little edible glue.
6) Surround the gift cake with the tiny regalice presents.




To add the finishing touches:
1) Arrange the snowman and penguin on the base board and fix in place with a dab of edible glue.
2) Make a few snowballs using some of the leftover white regalice and pile up next to the snowman and penguin.

Thank you to Renshaw for sending me a lovely selection of products to work with! For more information about Renshaw products, visit: http://www.renshawbaking.com/


Merry Christmas :)



3 comments:

  1. I won't be making this as I don't have the patience or attention to detail but I read the whole post because I was so intrigued with how it was made. It looks amazing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you - I'm quite impressed that you read it the whole way through! It was a really fun cake to make, but did take a little while and a lot of patience :)

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  2. WOW! it looks amazing! Congratulations on winning the big prize!

    ReplyDelete