Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat! And so are we, partially in thanks to cake. With this little christmas cake design, you can fatten up your family and look even slimmer yourself. Or you can be like me, and just not care. Christmas is no time for diets. It is, however, a time for decorating cakes. And so we shall decorate.
Some experience with royal icing are required to follow this tutorial. All the techniques in this design should be covered in my royal icing ebook The Little Book On Royal Icing. It’s free (pay-if-you-like-it), so feel free to download it before you start.
The cake is covered with marbled fondant in the colour Sugarflair Baby Pink.
The tubes used are all PME (unless stated otherwise). I use the PME #1.5 a lot. If you don’t have this tube, you can use #1 instead. The cake pictured is 6″. Templates for 6″, 8″ and 10″ cakes are provided at the bottom of this tutorial. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to send me an email. It’s firstname.lastname@example.org
Start by grabbing any round fondant covered cake you might be in possession of. Divide it into 12 parts, using the template provided at the bottom of this post. Then mark the two inner circles and the candle. I like to place the template on top of the cake and then poke holes with a scriber needle, but you can use any transfer method you prefer.
Using tube #1.5 or #1, pipe the outline of the scrolls (1) and the bigger of the two centre circles (2). I used a dark pink icing. Let it dry for a bit. Then pipe the scrolls (3) with tube #42, using a lighter pink.
Use a small, soft brush to apply a bit of dusting colour in a warm yellow color. Brush it in a circle around the area where the candle’s flame will be.
With soft, white icing, pipe the candle. Don’t use anything to pipe an outline, just pipe the entire candle with the soft icing. Use white icing for the flame as well. With the same icing, pipe bulbs along the edge to imitate wax running down the sides.
If you are not entirely comfortable piping run outs directly on the cake, you can pipe it on a sheet of acetate or parchment paper and let it dry overnight. Then carefully place it on the cake on top of a few small bulbs of icing to fasten it.
I use a very thin silicone baking mat for run outs and other royal icing pieces. It’s semi-transparent, making the template visible. It’s also non-stick, so the dried icing pieces are easy to remove.
When the candle is dry, it’s time to paint it. Start by using a soft brush to dust the entire flame with a warm yellow coluring dust. Mix the same powder with clear alcohol and carefully paint the flame with vertical strokes, leaving the tip of the flame un-painted (is that a word?) so it’s a lighter yellow. Then grab some egg-yellow paste colour and dissolve it in a bit of clear alcohol. Brush the bottom and the sides of the flame with this darker colour. Let dry for several hours, and then use a black food colouring pencil to draw the wick. You can also pipe the wick using a very dark brown or black icing.
Using the same dark pink as for the outline, overpipe the scrolls with tube #2 and let dry while you work on the spruce.
Now it’s time to pipe some spruce twigs! They are applied to the cake in three layers. Some are piped directly on the cake, while some are piped seperately and placed on top later. You can use the spruce template at the bottom of this post if you wish.
Start by piping the branches with tube #1.5 or 1, using brown icing. Let the surface dry. This shouldn’t take more than 10 minutes unless you live somewhere really humid. Then pipe the leaves with tube #1, using green icing. If piping branches with side twigs, the leaves on the side twigs should be piped last. See the drawing for clarification.
Let the twigs dry completely before trying to remove them. For me, this takes about 30 minutes, since it’s fairly cold and dry where I live. You might have to wait longer. The twigs are delicate and break easily. Be careful when handling them, and make plenty of extra twigs.
To get realistic spruce, we have to start with getting the colors right. I tried to imitate the colours of a Norway Spruce. They are called Red Spruce in Denmark, and are the most popular choice for Christmas trees. For the branches I used a cold, slightly red brown for this. This exact colour is Rainbow Dust Progel Dark Brown.
For the leaves I used a mixture of Sugarflair’s Spruce Green and Apple Green to make a nice, dark icing. I then used a tiny bit of Kiwi Green (a bright, cold green) and a tiny dash of the dark brown icing I made. You can use any colours available to you, of course. You want to end up with a dark, slighty cold green with red tones.
With all your spruce piped and ready, it’s time to have some fun! Take a look at the pictures below for a visual on how to build up the spruce. You don’t have to follow my exact pattern, but it should give you an idea on how to make a nice and fluffy bunch of twigs. If you can call spruce fluffy, that is.
Second layer is more of the same, giving more body to the design. These are piped seperately, on clear acetate, parchment paper or a thin silicone baking mat. They are then carefully removed and attached directly on top of the first layer with tiny dots of green royal icing. Use a small palette knife and a soft, dry brush to lift and place the twigs.
Third layer is also piped seperately. These twigs are bigger and fuller, and they are attached to the piped circle to give them more height. They do not touch the cake surface at all. Start from the outside and work your way in towards the candle from both sides, making the overlap more natural.
Place 3 piped flowers right below the candle, to hide the place where the twigs meet. These are 5 petal flowers piped in white icing with icing tube #59s (Wilton brand). When dry, the petals are dusted with pink and the centre with yellow. A small bulb of spring green icing is piped in the centre with tube #1. The dark dots are made with tube #00 and brown icing, but can also be drawn on with a brown food colouring pencil.
With the spruce all done, it’s time to finish up. With tube #1.5 or 1, overpipe the scrolls with light pink (1). Use the dark pink and tube #1.5 or 1 to pipe the inner circle around the candle (2), starting and ending right above the spruce. Pipe a fat dot of pink at both ends. With tube #2, pipe large bulbs between each section of overpiping (3).
Finish the design by overpiping the two centre circles with tube #1.5 or 1, using light pink icing, and then piping bulbs in the centre with tube #2 and dark pink icing (1). Place a dot of light pink icing on top of the bulbs at the ends of the centre circle (2) using tube #1.5. With the same tube, pipe small dots all around the outer edge of the scrolls (3).
The image above is a sample of the template. Click the links below to download the templates in full sized JPG format.
Layer 1 & 2: