Most cakes, however delicious, are improved in appearance by being iced and decorated. The decoration need not be elaborate and many simple, attractive designs can be very effective. Traditionally, sandwich-type cakes are filled with jam or a filling such as Stork icing and the top and sides may be iced with Stork, Fudge or Glace icing, and decorated. Everyday cakes, Madeira cakes and Gingerbread are not usually iced but the very rich Fruit cakes normally made for occasions such as Weddings and Christmas are first covered with Almond Paste and then with Royal Icing and then some form of decoration.
Icing Fruit Cakes
Usually the cake for special occasions such as Christmas, Wedding, and Birthdays, consists of a rich Fruit Cake covered with a layer of Almond Paste, Royal Icing and then some form of decoration. These layers help to give a good shape to the cake, provide protection and keep it moist.
When preparing for cake icing, if the cake has a slightly uneven surface, either roll lightly with a rolling pin to squash protruding currants or level with Almond Paste trimmings.
It is important to coat the cake first with Almond Paste as it prevents cake crumbs mixing with the icing and any grease or moisture from the cake seeping through and causing discolouration. Almond Paste is best home made, but many good ready-made varieties are available. If using ready-made allow 350g (3/4 lb) for top and sides of a 15cm (6 inch) square or 18cm (7 inch) round cake, 675g (1 1/2 lbs) for top and sides of a 18cm (7 inch) square or 20cm (8inch) round cake. 1 kg(2 1/4 - 2 1/2 lbs) for top and sides of a 20cm (8 inch) square or 23cm (9 inch) round cake.
To Cover a Cake with Almond Paste
1. Brush top and sides of cake with boiled, sieved apricot jam.
2. To cover the top. Using a little sieved icing sugar to prevent sticking, roll out one-third almond paste to a round or square slightly larger than top of cake (a greaseproof paper pattern can be cut as a guide). Place almond paste on top and trim off surplus paste level with sides of cake. If cake is slightly domed, either trim off or fill the gap round the edge of cake with almond paste trimmings.
3. To cover the sides. Roll out remaining two-thirds almond paste into either one long strip for a round cake cut to exact length and depth, or four strips each the length of one side, using a grease-proof paper pattern or string as a guide. Cover sides and join edges together. If necessary smooth sides and top with a rolling pin to flatten and straighten.
4. Leave cake in a dry place for 1-3 days so that almond paste can become dry and firm before it is covered with Royal or Fondant Icing.