Mini Christmas Cakes

There’s a Christmas cake I’ve been making for years and it’s from the Australian Women’s Weekly Celebration cookbook.  I was first attracted to this recipe because there’s a lovely story attached to it.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Way back in 1937, the Australian Women’s Weekly ran a competition for the best fruit cake.  This recipe won and the prize was 0ne hundred pounds.  I’ve done a google search and one hundred pounds back then is worth the equivalent today of three thousand pounds or just under $5,000.

The 'tools of trade'

The ‘tools of trade’

Five thousand dollars for a cake recipe?  And in the Great Depression?  The winner must have been celebrating into the 1950’s.

An angel blowing a horn.

An angel blowing a horn.

This is a lovely fruit cake recipe.  Because it stems from the depression when unusual or extravagant ingredients were either unavailable or not affordable, this recipe has very traditional and easily sourced ingredients.

An angel flying in a starry sky

An angel flying in a starry sky

The original recipe calls for a 25cm square cake tin or a 28cm deep round cake tin and the cooking time is five hours.  However, not everyone wants a massive cake and I’ve used this recipe to make four mini-cakes.  Thankfully, my oven is big enough to cook them all at once which made the process a lot more efficient than it otherwise would have been.

The angel blows her horn

The angel blows her horn

The cake looks very festive when it’s cut with the white almonds and red and green cherries.  I’m sorry I can’t show you the sliced cake but that would make my gifts for special friends look rather ordinary.

A snow-man

A snow-man

Here are three of the four cakes, all iced and decorated and ready to be given to my friends.  There’s a fourth cake sitting in the pantry still waiting to be decorated.

IMG_1736If you’re going to attempt these cakes, they are quite labour intensive but there are stages that are done on different days so it’s not a crippling experience.  The good thing is, these are definitely make-ahead gifts and the more jobs we can tick off before Christmas Eve, the better.

He won't melt!

He won’t melt!

Now, when it comes to decorating the cakes, with cute Christmas imagery, I googled ‘how to draw angels/trees/snowmen’.  Up came websites that teach children how to draw simplistically.  This is as much detail as you need for cake decorating.  If you don’t want to free-hand draw, you can always use your Christmas-inspired cookie cutters – whatever works!

Christmas trees with stars and baubles

Christmas trees with stars and baubles

Prize Winning Fruit Cake

Serves:  Each mini-cake will cut into around 16 slices.

Degree of Difficulty:  3/5 if not decorating; 4/5 – 5/5 (depending on how intricate the design) if working with fondant.

Cost:  The cake itself isn’t too pricey but buying all the decorative bits and pieces does add up.

  •  500g (3 1/4 cups) sultanas
  • 500g (3 1/4 cups) currants
  • 250g (1 1/2 cups) raisins, chopped
  • 125g (2/3 cup) red and green glace cherries, halved
  • 11/2 up mixed peel
  • 185g (1 1/2 cups) blanched almonds, halved
  • 1/3 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tbspn grated orange rind
  • 2 tspns grated lemon rind
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2/3 cup brandy
  • 500g butter
  • 500g (2 cups) brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 8 eggs
  • 3 cups plain flour
  • 1 cup self-raising flour
  • 4 tbspns brandy, extra

Combine fruit, almonds, marmalade, rinds, juice and brandy in a large bowl; mix well.  Cover bowl, stand mixture, stirring daily, for up to a week.

Cream butter and sugar in large bowl with electric mixer only until ingredients are combined.  Beat in eggs one at a time, beat only until combined between each addition.  Add creamed mixture to fruit mixture, mix well; mix in sifted flours in 2 lots.

Prepare cake tins!  Grease and line 4 x 16cm (6.3 inches) round cake tins with brown paper, then a layer of baking paper.

Pre-heat oven to 140C (280F).

Spread mixture evenly into cake tins.  Bang cake tins on bench several times to remove any trapped air pockets.  Smooth tops of cakes with a wet spatula.

Place in oven and cook for 2 hours or until a skewer comes out clean.

Remove from oven, place on bench and sprinkle the top of each cake with 1 tbspn of the extra brandy.  Cover top of cake immediately with a double layer of foil.  Allow cakes to cool overnight in tins.  Remove from tins and wrap in a double layer of cling film.  Store in a cool dry place until ready to decorate.

I bought the baubles and the stars

I bought the baubles and the stars

To Decorate Cakes:

  • 4 appropriately sized cake boards
  • 1 x lightly beaten egg white
  • 4 x packets of marzipan
  • 4 x 500g (1lb) packets of white fondant
  • icing sugar
  • tube liquid black decorating gel
  • food dyes in various colours (I use Corella powders)
  • edible stars
  • edible glue
  • edible markers
  • paint brush
  • gold powder
  • Vodka
  • edible baubles (I use
  • star-shaped cookie cutter

Measure cake to check it is level.  You may need to trim the top.  Take a small amount of marzipan and mix with a little water to make it sticky.  Place this in the centre of the cake board then place cake, upside down on top of board.  Press down to secure the cake to the marzipan and board.

Brush cake with egg white (if you don’t want raw egg on the cake you can substitute with jam).

Roll out marzipan a a bench sprinkled with icing sugar and cover cake.  Trim edges and smooth sides with hands sprinkled with icing sugar.  You can leave the marzipan to dry out for 24 hours if time permits.  If not, press on!

Sprinkle bench with icing sugar and roll out white fondant and cover cake.  Use a fine skewer to remove any air bubbles.  Use hands dipped in icing sugar to smooth the fondant over the cake.  Trim edges.

To decorate the bottom of the tree with ‘rope’, mould icing into a tube shape then roll on a bench using your hands until desired thickness.  Make 2 lengths.  Take 2 ropes and twist around each other while keeping the icing on a flat surface (if you hold it vertical the ropes will stretch and break!)

Brush edible glue around the base of cake and affix the rope, gently pressing it around the cake.

IMG_1731For the Christmas Trees:

Dye an appropriate amount of leftover icing, green.  Roll out on a bench dusted with icing sugar until a 3-4mms thick.  Use a green edible marker to draw Christmas tress on green fondant.  Cut out using a sharp pairing knife being careful not to drag the icing as this will alter the shape.  You can add some extra green strokes with the pen to the tree to create a more textured look.

Dye a small amount of icing brown and roll out to 3-4mms thickness.  Cut a tree stump for the bottom of the tree.

Match each of your trees with a stump and work out where to put them on the cake.  If placing them vertically, don’t use too much glue or the trees will slide and this will put green stains on the white surface!

Take each tree and apply a very thin layer of edible glue to the back then stick on the cake.  Attach the tree stump in the same way.  (For the vertical trees you will probably want to position the stump first.

Take multi-coloured baubles and lightly brush each bauble (one at a time) in glue.  Fix onto tree.

Place a star at the top of each tree by lightly brushing it on one side with edible glue.  (I bought stars but if you can’t find them you can make your own out of fondant dyed yellow).

He won't melt!

He won’t melt!

For the Snowman

Roll out white fondant until 3-4mms thickness.  Search your kitchen for 3 x round lids in appropriate sizes and trace around each one then cut out using a sharp knife.  Cut into the larger 2 circles in one section to allow each circle to fit into each other.  Cut a straight line across the circle that is the head of the snowman so his hat can sit on his head.  Brush each circle lightly with glue and place on top of the cake.

Dye a small amount of fondant, brown then roll out and cut out a hat.  (I drew the hat first using an edible marker).  Use glue to fit the hat onto the cake.

Use remaining brown fondant to cut out ‘sticks’ for the snowman’s arms.  Affix onto cake with glue.

Dye a small amount of fondant, red then cut out a scarf and glue onto cake around the snowman’s neck.

Take 3 baubles and brush one side lightly with glue and press into fondant to create some buttons.

Use liquid black decorating gel to draw eyes on the snowman’s face.

Take a tiny bit of fondant and dye orange.  Cut out a carrot shape for nose and stick onto snowman’s face.

Use a red edible marker to draw a smile onto the snowman’s face.

An angel blowing a horn.

An angel blowing a horn.

To Make the Angel:

Use a round lid to trace out the angel’s head on white fondant.  Cut out head and cut out a nose and a hand.

Dye a small amount of fondant blue.  Roll out and cut out a triangular shape to make the angel’s dress and her sleeve.

Dye a small amount of fondant yellow.  Roll out and cut out hair shape.

Take remaining white icing and cut out angel’s wings and her horn.

Glue head onto cake, then the nose, then the dress, then the sleeve, then the wings, then the horn, then the hair, then the hand.

Pour some gold powder into a small container and mix with just enough vodka to make a paste.  Paint the angel’s wings and the horn, gold.

Use liquid black decorating gel to give the angel an eye.  Use a red edible marker to give the angel a mouth.

Roll out remaining white fondant and use a star-shaped cookie cutter to cut out stars.  Stick stars onto sides of cake using edible glue.  If the stars start to slide, secure temporarily with a sewing pin.  Paint stars gold.

When glue has dried, definitely, definitely, remove pins!

Wrap to give as the best-ever homemade Christmas gifts.

I used the green edible marker to create some texture to the tree.

I used the green edible marker to create some texture to the tree.

I gave the snowman cake to Celia, the angel cake to Tania and the Christmas Tree cake to Lorraine.

Ready to be given as gifts

Ready to be given as gifts

If you liked this post, you’re welcome to share it.

The cakes were wrapped in clear cellophane.  You can keep them in the cellophane and this will keep them dust-free.

The cakes were wrapped in clear cellophane. You can keep them in the cellophane and this will keep them dust-free.

Other Christmas cake recipes:

A snowman that stands on top of your cake.

Non-iced, Festive Fruit and Nut Cake.

A Gluten-Free Bouche de Noel.

A Gluten-Free Christmas Cake.

 

Comments

  1. I’m in awe, once again you have made the most beautiful cakes (mini ones such a great idea!), which are indeed the best ever homemade Christmas gifts…lucky girls, Celia, Tania and Lorraine! What a great story behind the recipe too and I love your props, those silver reindeer are gorgeous.

  2. Best. Ever. Homemade. Gift.

    If it were a contest darling, you would win, just like the winner did in 1937, but Lorraine, Tania and I got to take home the prizes! Thank you so much for thinking of us! And this is my all-time favourite cake recipe, and I haven’t made any this year, so I’m very excited to have yours! And you’ve done such an amazing job decorating them too – everyone was very impressed when I brought it home! xxx

  3. You are too funny, Celia. I had a lot of fun making the snowman. He’s so cute! I’m glad everyone in your family loves him. And what a coincidence that you know the recipe and have made this cake many times! Unbelievable!

  4. These are just gorgeous!!!
    I have never had a Christmas cake recipe to call my own so I will have to put this one to the test :)
    Thanks for sharing, it has put me in the festive spirit :)

  5. These cakes are stunning, just stunning. I am beyond impressed by your creativity.

    The presentation/packaging is equally as memorable.

    And, yes, that’s quite a story about the recipe winning $5,000.

  6. Charlie they are gorgeous!! Wow, what talent. I’ve never had fruit cake. My grandma used to make it when I was young but being young and picky, I always turned my nose up to it. I’m going to have to look into making a fruit cake. I’m not even nearly as artistic as you though, so mine will have to stay simple. What lucky friends you have!

    • And they’re easy to make GF too. You just substitute the flour for GF flour! A simple cake is equally as good. I started years ago just decorating with marzipan and then the icing and I would buy little decorations to stick on top of the cake. Everyone said ‘wow’ even though I didn’t make the decorations!

  7. You are seriously a master with fondant! These are adorable!!

  8. $5000?!? That’s a lot of money even today for a recipe!!! These look lovely and I love the decor on them!! So cute!!! xo

  9. Great looking cakes Charlie!

  10. You are one talented lady.

  11. What a beautiful work of art!!

  12. They are so cute! What a wonderful friend you are!

  13. I love that the cake/s use traditional and easily sourced ingredients. Fabulous recipe!
    You do such a beautiful job of decorating cakes Charlie.
    Have a super weekend.
    :-) Mandy xo

  14. Charlie, they are gorgeous – you are one clever lady.

    If you go to http://trove.nla.gov.au/ndp/del/article/52244902 you will find the newspaper report of the contest and the winners. The original recipe is also included noting that the ingredients cost 8/-.

  15. The cakes are beautifully decorated for the holidays. I’m sure the recipients of these gorgeous creations aren’t going to want to cut into them and mar their perfection.

  16. What an interesting story. I bet the lucky winner would have a tale to tell! Love your solution of making the mini cakes – lots more icing to do this way of course. Decorations are very lively.

  17. What stunning gifts! Your friends must be thrilled when they see you at their door!!!

  18. These are gorgeous, Charlie. The girls are very lucky to get them – your decorating is just lovely.

  19. These cakes look wonderful, great gifts. Perfectly pretty. GG

  20. They’re so pretty Charlie!

  21. OK Charlie ~ you would know this by now!! Am not a Christmas cake gal small or large!! But think yours just wonderful and tasty and am thinking of the lucky recipients!! What a wonderful extra Yule treat!!! And I am actually setting that particular set of ingredients aside . . . you never know :) ! Have fun, and that above all . . . !!!!!!!

  22. G’day! What beautiful cakes and creativity Charlie, true!
    Am sure Celia, Tania and Lorraine loved them too!
    Fondant is so fun to play with and the smile your photos created is priceless to me! Thank you!
    Cheers! Joanne

  23. Thank you for my lovely cake! I can barely wait until Christmas to cut into it. I love the story behind it too! :)

  24. What a lovely story! I’d never heard of that competition, or seen the winning recipe. This is definitely one to tuck away as a ‘can’t fail’ Christmas cake option (or at least, can’t fail for the many normal people who like Christmas cake; I think it would struggle to win me over ;) ).

  25. Charlie, your mini cakes are so festive-looking and your photos made me feel merry. Whoever’s on your gift list is sure to appreciate receiving one of these!

  26. These are just so lovely Charlie! I love recipes that are tried and true, and glace cherries are a huge favourite of mine and I always add in extra to Christmas cakes :) Your decorating is so sweet, especially the angels- very joyous! Xox

  27. My goodness! It’s so pretty. I need to borrow some of your awesomeness for my holiday prep. Do you sell it by the ounce? ;)

  28. Of, if only I could get ready-made fondant here in San Miguel, I would definitely make one of these beautiful cakes. Beautiful–and what a thoughtful gift. Actually, the cake sounds pretty great even without the fondant.

  29. These are just unbelievably gorgeous, Charlie! I love this sort of project and would have loved to be in the kitchen with you baking these and decorating! How lovely they would be to receive as a Christmas gift.. you’ve got lucky, lucky friends. I love how you’ve explained using fondant, I’d like to try fondant and haven’t had the occasion yet. We live in different parts of the world, but is there a brand of fondant you’d recommend? xx

    • Hi Barbara, thank you so much for your kind words. Yes, using ready-made fondant is definitely time saving and super-convenient. I use the Orchard brand. It comes in a pink box, costs around $5.00/box and weighs about 500gms. I do hope you can find it or something similar in Canada.

  30. Charlie, these are fantastic! I love the mini cakes, so perfect to give as gifts! Lucky recipients indeed :)

  31. Charlie, These cakes are works of art! I love the story behind the recipe and they simply make my mouth water. I love Christmas cake/fruit cake…anything in that broad range. But what you’ve done elevates them to such an inspiration!

  32. These little christmas cakes are SO pretty Charlie :) They’re the perfect gift! But I’m not sure I have the patience to make the cute angels and Christmas trees on top of the cakes hehe xox

  33. I actually can’t pick a favourite because they ALL look great! :) Totally feeling festive right now.

  34. WOW!!!! You do such a beautiful job decorating cakes. They all three look amazing, your friends were so lucky to receive them! Hugs, Terra

  35. You are SO clever. I have always said I don’t have the patience to do this but maybe I think I don’t have the talent. Gorgeous.

  36. Wow, Charlie These cakes all look fantastic! I’m sure your friends all loved receiving them. I know I would — and hate the thought of cutting into it. :)

  37. You’re right – $5000 was A LOT back during the depression. What gorgeous cakes! You are such a wonderful cake maker and decorator! What fun and what lucky friends you have.

  38. I’m speechless! Absolutely gorgeous beautiful cakes!!!! Wow… I can’t even “draw” pictures like that and you made into cake designs… so impressive!

  39. Wow, that’s a whole lotta money to win as a prize! I wonder if they actually made all the finalist cakes, or if it all came down to which sounded best? If it was a contest in decorations I’m sure these would take the first place Charlie – they look so pretty!

  40. These cakes are absolutely adorable, Charlie! So festive and perfect for the holidays! Anyone would feel lucky to receive such a gift :)

  41. Oh Wow, you have made the most beautiful cakes, I like the snowman the best but they all look great!! A lot of detail, I bet it took you awhile to make those.

  42. I think you should win the award for the best Christmas cakes this year! They look soo beautiful! Such precise detail! :)

Trackbacks

  1. […] If you’d like more detail on how to decorate Christmas cakes in a similar style, you can view my post on Mini-Christmas Cakes. […]

  2. […] The recipe for mini-Christmas cakes and other decorating ideas can be found here. […]

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