Earlier in the week I bought some marzipan and some apricot jam. All ready to roll out the marzipan and top the cake with it. Another somewhat strange tradition is that we put marzipan on the cake first, let that set up a bit (ideally a week, but in my case a couple of days), and then top with frosting of some kind. Sometimes it's royal icing, sometimes Italian meringue. This year it was Italian meringue.
It is further traditional to eat said cake with tea on Christmas Eve. After which we just scarf it down! So this post is about the fine art of icing a Christmas cake.
Ingredients - marzipan layer
3T Apricot jam
12 oz marzipan - especially made for toppings like this. We bought ours at Whole Foods.
1 Christmas cake. Ours was about 7" in diameter
Put the apricot jam in a small pan - to soften enough to make it spreadable. While the jam is melting, take 1/2 of the marzipan and roll it out to about 1/8" thickness. Maybe a little thicker if you like. The important thing is to get it into a circle about the same diameter as the cake.
Ingredients - Italian meringue
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1" piece of vanilla pod
2 egg whites
Heat the sugar, water and vanilla bean gently in a heavy saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. You should stir fairly often at this stage to make sure the sugar does not catch and burn. Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat slightly and boil until the syrup reaches 240 C.
Meanwhile, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks stage. Once the sugar syrup has come to temperature, pour it in a this stream over the egg whites while whisking at high speed. Continue to whisk at high speed until the mixture has cooled to room temp - about 7-10 minutes.