Try making this gorgeous winter wonderland cake for Christmas this year! It will impress all your guests who will still be talking about it next year!
Preparation time: 4-5 hours for the cake, gingerbread houses and to assemble
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes
- 300g packet tropical fruit medley
- 115g (4 oz) dried cranberries
- 85g (3 oz) dried sour cherries
- Finely grated rind and juice of 1 large orange
- 225g (8 oz) Stork tub
- 225g (8 oz) golden caster sugar
- 4 medium eggs
- 90g (3 oz) ground almonds
- 225g (8 oz) plain flour
- 1 ¼ level teaspoon baking powder
Icing to decorate
- 65g (2 ½ oz) whole almonds
- 65g (2 ½ oz) caster sugar
- 275g( 10 oz) icing sugar, sieved
- 115g (4 oz) Stork spread
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 30cm (12 in) cake board
- 1 quantity of gingerbread houses
- Chop all the dried fruits into small (cranberry-size) pieces. Combine these in a bowl with the orange rind and juice and mix well. Leave to soak for approximately 30 minutes.
- Put the Stork, sugar, eggs and almonds in a mixing bowl and sieve the flour and baking powder over. Beat until well mixed then fold in the fruit mixture.
- Spoon into a greased and bottom-lined 20cm (8 inch) deep round cake tin.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 170°C, 160°C fan, Gas mark 4 for 1 – 1¼ hours or until cooked through (a fine skewer inserted in the centre should come out clean). Leave to cool before removing the cake from the tin.
- Place the almonds and sugar in a heavy based pan and place over a moderate heat until the sugar melts and turns a golden caramel colour shaking the pan from time to time. Pour onto parchment paper and leave till cold. Place in polythene bag and bash with rolling pin until roughly ground.
- Beat the icing sugar, Stork and milk together and spread half over sides of cake.. Spread remaining icing over top and sprinkle with the praline mix .
- To assemble cake: make gingerbread houses and decorate as recipe.
- Roll out some of the sugar paste until very thin and lay it over the board. Roll it firmly into the surface and use the rolling pin to smooth paste off the edges. Place the cake on top secured with a little royal icing to stop it moving.
- Spread a little royal icing on the back of each house and gently push onto the side of the cake so that the bottom of each one rests on the cake board. Try not to allow any gaps between the houses.
- When all the houses are in place, take a length of ribbon and trim the bottom of the houses, securing at the back with a blob of royal icing. Use double sided tape to attach ribbon to the base board. There will be some houses leftover which can be eaten separately.
Tips if time is short:
Leave out the praline and use ready chopped nuts. Make the cake in advance and freeze for up to 2 months, saving time nearer Christmas. The biscuits can be made 5-6 days in advance and kept in an airtight container before decorating.
To make the Gingerbread House, you will need:
- ¾ tablespoon black treacle
- 1 ½ tablespoons golden syrup
- 55g dark brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon water
- 1 teaspoon mixed spice
- ¾ teaspoon ground ginger
- 70g Stork packet
- ½ level teaspoon bicarb of soda
- 165g plain flour
- Half packet (454g) fondant icing (white or mix of green and red)
- Half packet (500g) royal icing, made up according to pack directions
- Christmas sprinkles, silver balls etc
- Place the treacle, syrup, spices and water in a saucepan and heat until bubbling and sugar has dissolved.
- Take off the heat and add the Stork. Stir until melted.
- Sieve the flour with the bicarb and add to the pan. Mix to a smooth dough. Place dough in a mixing bowl lined with cling film. Chill for 30-40 mins until cold.
- Roll out dough on a floured surface to a thickness of roughly 4mm. Use a sharp knife to cut out the houses at differing heights and widths e.g. heights of 7.5-10cm (3-4 in) and widths of 3.75-7.5cm (1½ -3 in).Have fun with different types of houses e.g. chalet, townhouses etc. Cut the windows out completely for 5 houses if using to sit on the top of the cake
- Cover baking sheets with baking parchment and arrange houses with a small 1cm gap so they don’t run into each other.
- Bake in centre of preheated oven 190°C, 170°C fan, Gas mark 5 for 10-12 minutes or until the biscuits start to turn brown
- Whilst still warm, use a sharp knife to trim the edges so that the vertical lines are straight and the biscuits line up beautifully. Cool.
- To decorate, roll out the sugar paste to a thickness of 1-2 mm. Cut out doors and windows and use the royal icing to attach to the biscuits. Then use royal icing to pipe in all the details: railings, icicles, snowflakes, let your imagination run wild!
- Use sugar pearls and sprinkles to add texture but sprinkle them whilst the icing is still wet.