This is a great last minute way to decorate a cake; painted cakes are unusual but a staple at Hatty Bakewell’s, once you’ve mastered the technique there is no end to the artworks you can create. Remember, painting a cake is very different to painting on paper or canvas, you must wait for the fondant to set overnight and you can’t lean on a cake the way you would normally be used to. I would encourage anyone to give this a go, you don’t have to create a Rembrandt, just have fun with it and the finished article will be truly your own. On with the show…..
You will need
A Christmas cake –readymade and un-decorated, or one you made earlier iced and ready to go. Whichever you choose it must be fondant covered.
Sugarflair Edible tints in…
Sugarflair Concentrated Paste in Black Extra
Rainbow Dust Edible tint in Ivy Green
Rainbow Dust Food Paint in Metallic Light Gold
Vodka - other brands are available...ahem.
Round Brush No. 10
Round Brush No. 0
A white or other pale coloured plate
A cup full of boiled cooled water - for washing your brushes as you go along.
A plain piece of rolled white fondant which has set hard(ish) overnight.
Step 1- Write your message.
Prepare your cake by placing on a turntable if you have one. Scoop out a little of the black paste onto your plate and dip in the No. 0 round brush. If you are using a homemade cake make sure you have left it to dry at least overnight, otherwise the paint will sink into the surface and could run. Start writing your message being careful not to lean on the cake too much (if at all!) You can choose any font or message you would like.
Step 2 – Paint the red flower clusters.
Pour a little Poppy Red and White edible tints onto your plate, in a separate bowl or cup pour out a little vodka. Pick up some of the vodka on your No. 0 brush (you may wish to use a separate brush for mixing but I do it as I go along with the brush I am using which works fine). Mix this into the red powder on your plate starting at the side of the mound powder. Keep soaking a little vodka on your brush and incorporating more powdered pigment as you go, pouring out more of each as a when needed. Paint some rough round flower shapes at three anchor points around the central message. You may find it takes some practice to get the colour and consistency right, practice on a separate piece of rolled white fondant if you need to. Once you have three groups of three, mix a little white pigment with some vodka, go back over each flower and add some highlights.
Step 2 – Ivy Strands and Leaves.
Pour out some Forest Green pigment. After washing and drying your brush, soak up some vodka and mix with the pigment in the same way as before. Paint two strands and a couple of leaves coming out of each flower cluster. Fill in the leaves, with the green paint. Then pour out some Ivy Green pigment, mix and add highlights to the leaves. Using the Ivy green, paint the ivy leaves for each of the stands, going back over to add darker shades with the mixed Forest Green for a more realistic look.
Step 3 – Bluebells and Gold accents.
Finally, paint a small cluster of blue flowers, using the Petal Blue pigment and vodka as before. Make sure you wash and dry your brush again. Add leaves, again using highlights and shadow with Forest Green and Ivy Green. Switch to your No. 10 Brush and pour out a little Metallic Light Gold paint. As with the black paste you don’t need to mix this at all with vodka, just neat from the bottle. Paint some gold accents in-between the message and your now completed wreath wherever you would like.
Finish by wrapping the seam of the cake with some ribbon and your cake is ready to wow! Serve on a pretty plate or cake stand.
Tips and Tricks
If your using a homemade fruitcake and you want to put your cake on a board, make sure you put a disc of greaseproof paper affixed with some royal icing between the cake and the board itself. The acidity of fruit cake can corrode foil lined boards and taint your cake. Place the royal icing on the board, place the disc on top, then a little more royal icing on top to secure the cake.
12 hole pie/patty tray x 2
For the Orange Cream Cheese
250g/8oz Full-fat Cream Cheese
50g/2oz Caster Sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 Orange
For the Pastry
500g/1lb Plain Flour
175g/6oz Caster Sugar
Finely grated zest and juice of 1 Orange
And the rest…
Butter or spread for greasing
400g good quality Mincemeat
3tbsp Milk for glazing (Optional)
Icing sugar for dusting (Optional)
Step 1 – Make the pastry.
Pour the flour and sugar into a bowl and mix well to combine. Cut the butter, straight from the fridge, into cubes and tip into the dry mixture. Rub the butter and dry ingredients together to form a breadcrumb like texture. Add the zest and juice of the orange and bring the mixture together to form a dough. You can do this process in a mixer or blender if you have one but be careful not to overwork the pastry. Make a rough ball with the dough, wrap in cling film and chill for at least 20mins.
Step 2 – Meanwhile, make the orange cream cheese.
Put the cream cheese, sugar and zest in a bowl, stir until smooth then set aside. Done!
Step 3 – Prepare the pies.
Lightly grease the pie trays with butter or spread. Roll out the now chilled pastry dough to about 3mm thick and cut out 24 bottoms and 24 lids. For the bottoms, use a 7.5cm fluted cutter and a 6cm fluted cutter for the lids. Place the bottoms into the prepared tins and fill each just under halfway (roughly half a teaspoon, you don’t need much as the mixture will spread in the oven) with mincemeat. Add roughly the same amount of cream cheese mixture to each pie; again don’t go overboard otherwise they will overflow in the oven. Brush the exposed edges of each pie with a little milk then top each off with a lid. Press the edges lightly together and poke a small slit in each. If you have any pastry left over you can decorate your mince pies, try a tiny Holly leaf cutter for a festive finish. Brush each mince pie with a little milk and they are ready to go into the oven.
Step 4 – Baking and Finishing.
For conventional & gas oven –
Bake for 20mins until golden brown, remove and set aside to cool for 5-10 mins. Once they have cooled slightly, remove from the trays and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Dust liberally with icing sugar and serve.
For Aga –
Place on the bottom of the roasting oven floor. Ideally bake later in the day after you have cooked your main meal so the heat of the Aga isn’t so ferocious. Check after 6-7 mins and turn if necessary, then bake for a further 7-10 mins until golden brown. Remove and set aside to cool for 5-10 mins. Once they have cooled slightly, remove from the trays and transfer to a wire cooling rack. Dust liberally with icing sugar and serve.
Tips and Tricks.
-Use a ball of pastry as a tamper to push the bottoms into the tins, you can buy tampers from specialist cook shops but a ball of pastry works perfectly.
-These mince pies will freeze well over the festive period. Why not make a couple of batches, bring out and heat as needed? You can also freeze the raw pastry itself ready to make up a batch but be careful to thaw thoroughly before rolling out.
-If you are not a lover of cream cheese why not try star topped mince pies instead? Simply omit Step 2 and follow the recipe as normal, cutting out small stars instead of 6cm fluted lids. You can also boost the yield of this recipe by leaving the pies completely open! Don’t cut any lids and you could get another 12 pies easily. Brush the finished (cooled) mince pies with some edible gold or silver glitter to add a festive flourish, or sprinkle with almond flakes before baking.