Saturday, December 3, 2011

Christmas Snowflake Cake

I'm going to make a shock declaration right now : I don't like Christmas Cake.  I also can't stand Christmas pudding, traditional wedding cake, Dundee Cake, Oxford Loaf or anything filled with dried fruit.  Luckily, The Hubs shares my dislike of such things although both sets of parents think we're crackers.  I only had a tier of fruit cake at our wedding (the tiniest one...) to keep them happy because "it isn't a wedding without a bit of fruit cake".  Rubbish - the Belgian chocolate sponge and lemon madeira tiers were far nicer, I can assure you!

Just because we don't like fruit cake doesn't mean that we can't have a Christmas cake though.  I decided to make a pretty little sparkly iced cake for us to have as a special treat.  This is a lemon madeira cake, covered in  lemon and vanilla buttercream and a soft white fondant icing, and topped with disco-tastic gold and silver snowflakes.

It looks very scary but it's really simple to make.  Here's a few tips... the cake will rise and form a dome when it's cooked.  Trim the top with a serrated knife so it's level then turn it upside down so you have a perfectly flat surface for icing.  Make your buttercream in advance and make sure the butter is as squidgy as possible - the icing sugar combines much more easily.  And use ready rolled icing.  It makes the whole process much easier.  I tend to unroll the sheet and roll it a few mm thinner - you don't have to do this, but I prefer a slightly thinner icing.  If you decide to use glitter sprays, don't wear anything decent - this stuff spreads like wildfire.  Cut your shapes out on the sheet of icing plastic & then spray them.  Let them dry - this takes 15 minutes - before you attempt to put them on the cake.  I also need to clarify that I bought the glitter spray in Sainsburys in Belfast - as far as I'm aware, Dr.Oetker haven't listed it for sale here (sorry to be the bearer of bad news...)

Christmas Snowflake Cake

175g Butter, very soft
175g Caster Sugar
3 Eggs
250g Self-Raising Flour
2-3 tbsp Milk
Zest of 1 Lemon, grated

Preheat the oven to 180c/Gas Mark 4.  Grease & line the base of an 8-inch cake tin with baking paper.

Cream the butter and caster sugar together until fluffy.

Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between additions.  Add a spoonful of flour with the last egg to stop the mixture curdling.

Sift in the flour & fold into the mixture, together with the lemon zest.  Add enough milk so the mixture turns into a soft dropping consistence.

Pour into the cake tin, level the top and bake for 30-40 minutes until golden brown and a skewer comes out clean.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.

Lemon Vanilla Buttercream

60g Butter, very soft
220g Icing Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tbsp Lemon Juice

Beat the butter and HALF of the icing sugar together with an electric whisk until it's fluffy.  Add the rest of the icing sugar, vanilla and lemon juice and beat again until it becomes a smooth icing.

Spread the buttercream over the madeira cake, smoothing down the top and the sides.  The neater you get this, the cleaner the finish when you top it with the sheet of fondant icing.  Chill the cake for 15 minutes before applying the fondant.

Fondant Icing and Snowflakes

1 sheet ready rolled fondant icing
Gold & silver edible food spray

Unroll the sheet of icing, leaving it on the plastic.  Roll out until it's 2-3mm thinner, then drape over the cake.  smooth out the top first, then bring the fondant down the sides of the cake.  Trim it with with scissors about 2cm from the edge of the base and save the trimmings for your snowflakes.  Once the top is smooth, start smoothing the sides, trimming as you go.  If you've 1-2mm too much icing, you can tuck it under the cake base & tidy it up with a ribbons *cheats tip*

Re-roll the fondant leftovers on the sheet of plastic until they're about 2mm thick, cut out your chosen shapes, leave on the plastic and spray with the edible food spray.  The trick is to keep your distance and apply it in layers.  Let the shapes dry for 15 minutes before placing onto the cake.


  1. I hate dried mixed fruits, candied peel, glacé cherries in a cake and end up picking them out! I only use sultanas, if at all. Really lovely idea for all of us in the *Hatedriedfruit* club. Did you use a cookie cutter for your stars, or a stencil? Fabulous work, well done, Aoife.

  2. I had a set of cookie cutters from last year which I used to make the spiced snowflake cookies. I was surprised by how well it came together because it was a bit of a last minute idea!

  3. I didn't even know there was such a thing as glitter spray for baking! I'm going to keep my eye out for it. I'm also not a big fan of Christmas cake (though I do like brack) and even less of a fan of plum pudding, though my mother-in-law usually shows up with one and then I have to cook it, sigh.

  4. Kristin - I saw it in Sur La Table in San Francisco, so your homeland definitely is the leader (it's Wilton brand). I bought this spray in Sainsburys as Dr. Oetker don't sell it here for some bizarre reason - they should delist that spray frosting and replace it with this!

  5. That looks gorgeous and a great idea for people who aren't big on the dried fruit. Love the stars too :)

  6. Looks FAB! And perfect for Christmas too. I hate dried fruit in anything baked, ruins it for me!

  7. Now THAT's my kind of Christmas Cake! Pretty too! Happy Holidays Aoife xx

  8. Thanks Imen - happy holidays to you & your pair of handsome men too xxx

  9. This is a wonderful recipe, I too share your dislike of dried fruit. At least now I know that I can have Christmas cake I just have to make it myself!

  10. Wow, that's sooo pretty! I'm not a big fan of Christmas Cake either. And don't even get me started on peel. *SHUDDER*

  11. Wow-the cake looks amazing!!!I like fruit cakes (though not ones with mix peel (shudder!!) added into them) but this looks fab!!I made your xmas snowflake cookies last week-they turned out great. The honey made them really moist and I got so many compliments thanks to your receipe ;-)

  12. Ruby, Becky - thanks a million!

    Alethea - delighted to hear you liked the snowflake cookies - I think I'll make a Santa version with my new cutter this year