HOW TO MAKE… A GIN­GER­BREAD CAKE AND TOP­PERS

Mollie Makes - - Mollie Makes -

MA­TE­RI­ALS

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

EQUIP­MENT

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

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