Ribboned Parcel Cake Decoration
This is a simple but tasteful design for those who want to go a step further than the quick snow scene.
To get royal icing really flat and smooth has always demanded a great deal of skill, but now that fondant icing has become more popular everything has been simplified down to simply rolling out the icing and fitting it on to the cake.
This recipe is from Delia Smith's Christmas For the fondant icing for a 7 inch (18 cm) square or an 8 inch (20 cm) round cake
First sift the icing sugar into a large bowl, then add 1½ egg whites, which is just under 2 fl oz (55 ml), and reserve the rest of the egg white for later.
Add the liquid glucose. Now start to mix everything with a wooden spoon and then finish off with your hands. As soon as you have a ball of icing, transfer it to a surface dusted with icing sugar and start to knead it in the same way as you would knead bread dough. (I'm afraid it will take 10 minutes or so, so you may need some good music on – or else use it as an opportunity to get rid of all your hidden aggressions!)
If the dough becomes a bit sticky just add a little more sifted icing sugar. When the 10 minutes are up, leave the icing on one side covered with a cloth for 30 minutes.
To ice the cake, first reserve 6 oz (175 g) of the icing for the decoration, then take four or five very small pieces of the icing, dip them in the reserved egg white and use them to fix the cake to the cake board. Now brush the almond icing all over with egg white and roll the fondant out to a square measuring 13½ x 13½ inches (34 x 34 cm). Lift it carefully with the aid of a rolling pin and transfer it to the cake, placing it centrally over it. Use a palette knife to smooth it over the top and down the sides and to round the corners. Don't worry about any gaps or holes because the fondant can be eased back together gently and smoothed over.
Trim the base neatly all round, then, if you need to, smooth the top and sides of the cake by sliding a palette knife all over each surface.
Then take 2 yards (2 metres) of any ribbon of your choice; red, green, sliver or gold. In the photograph we used some metallic strips that have had sequins stamped out of them. These are available from dressmakers who specialise in weddings and sometimes from florists.
First measure the lengths needed to make the parcel effect and fix these firmly, using large dressmaking pins with little bobbles on the ends. Then make the rest of the ribbon into a large bow and affix this the same way. Store the cake in a large container till needed. Before serving be careful to remove the pins securing the ribbon.
You will also need a 10 inch (25 cm) round cake board or an 11 inch (28 cm) square board, and 2 yards (2 metres), ribbon