HOW TO MAKE… A GINGERBREAD CAKE AND TOPPERS
Polymer clay in mint, turquoise, green, white and gold (we used Fimo) Christmas tree-shaped biscuit cutters in various sizes Craft knife Rolling pin Wooden skewers Baking tray Baking paper Craft glue
INGREDIENTS For the cake
190g (6 oz) plain flour 1 tsp baking powder
tsp salt 1 tsp ground ginger 1 tsp ground cinnamon
tsp ground cloves 115g (4 oz) unsalted butter 100g (4oz) granulated sugar 75g (2 oz) dark brown sugar 125ml (4 fl oz) treacle 1 tsp vanilla extract 125ml (4 fl oz) buttermilk 2 large eggs
For the frosting
225g (8oz) unsalted butter 170g (6oz) full fat cream cheese 500g (17 oz) icing sugar 1 tbsp lemon zest Juice of half a lemon 30g (1oz) desiccated coconut
Three 15cm (6") cake tins Baking paper Bowl Serrated knife Palette knife Even after tucking into Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, there’s always room for cake. Especially if that cake is a light, spiced gingerbread sponge, slathered with fresh cream cheese frosting and topped with coconut.
Decorated with a forest of evergreen (and everlasting) tree toppers, this show-stopping alternative to a traditional heavy fruit cake is sure to impress, plus it won’t you take days to create. And, as it serves 10 people, there might even be enough for seconds.
Making the cake toppers
Break off a piece of green clay, and twist it together with the white clay to marble them.
Roll out the five different shades of clay to roughly 0.25cm ( 3 /8") thick. Use the cutters to cut five tree shapes in a variety of sizes and colours. Create a diagonal dotty pattern across two trees with the point of a skewer, as shown.
Preheat the oven to 110°C/230°F/Gas Mark and line
a baking tray with baking paper. Place the shapes onto the lined tray and bake for 30 minutes, then leave to cool.
Glue a skewer onto the back of each tree, then leave to dry. Making the gingerbread cake
Preheat the oven to 175°C/ 350°F/Gas Mark 4. Grease the tins, then line with baking paper.
Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt and spices together in a bowl, then put to one side.
Using an electric whisk, beat the butter until it’s smooth. Add the sugar and beat together until the mixture is pale and fluffy.
Add the eggs to the mixture, one at a time, fully incorporating each one before adding the next. Add the treacle and vanilla and continue mixing until incorporated.
Alternate adding the dry ingredients and buttermilk, beginning and ending with the dry ingredients, and fully incorporating each ingredient before adding the next. Take care not to overmix.
Spread the batter evenly into the three tins and smooth the tops with a spatula. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Place the cakes on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then turn out of the tins and cool completely.
To make the frosting, beat the butter and cream cheese until fluffy. Add the icing sugar a little at a time. Add the lemon zest and juice, then continue beating the mixture until fluffy again.
To assemble, use a serrated knife to trim each cake into even layers. Place one layer on a cake stand and top with a generous amount of icing, using a palette knife to spread it evenly. Repeat with the remaining two layers. Place the cake in the fridge for 30 minutes to chill.
Use the palette knife to apply a generous coating of icing over the cake. Once completely covered, use the palette knife to remove some of the icing, allowing the cake to show through. If the cake looks uneven or patchy, apply more icing to that area and scrape around the cake again, making sure all the edges are straight.
Scatter desiccated coconut across the top of the cake. Using the image above as a guide, arrange the clay trees on top of the cake in a tiered pattern. Laura Mitchell Kit and Nancy blogger Laura is an Australian baker. In 2013, she followed her heart to Holland and now lives with her Dutchman and adopted pup in Rotterdam. Laura spends her days baking and dreaming up recipes – find her on Insta @kitandnancy. www.kitandnancy.blogspot.com