Pinecone Wreath Christmas Cake


Ingredients:
23cm (9in) fruit cake

To cover:
2 tbsp. apricot glaze
Icing sugar to dust
750 g golden marzipan
750 g white ready-to-roll sugarpaste icing
Vodka or cooled boiled water, to brush

To decorate: 
60 g golden marzipan
Flaked almonds, toasted
1 medium egg white
10 or so rosemary sprigs
Caster sugar, to dredge
Cinnamon sticks, we used East End
Cinnamon (Cassia) sticks
Fresh cherries or cranberries
Ribbon (s)
Star anise
Amaretti biscuits, optional

Directions:
1. Put cake on a board and spread top and sides thinly with apricot glaze. Sift icing sugar on to a work surface and roll out marzipan until large enough to cover cake. Lay on to cake and smooth with hands, easing out crease. Trim excess. Allow to air dry for at least 2hr, ideally overnight.

2. Lightly dust a work surface and roll out sugarpaste as before. Brush marzipan layer lightly with vodka or cooled boiled water, then lay over the sugarpaste. Smooth into position, trimming excess. Allow to dry for a least 2hr, ideally overnight.

3. To make the marzipan pinecones, divide the marzipan into 3. Working with 1 portion at a time, shape into a tall cone. Starting at the bottom, carefully stick in the flaked almonds from pointy ends until the marzipan is fairly covered. Repeat with remaining marzipan and flaked almonds. Lightly dust the pinecones with icing sugar and set aside.

4. To crystallise the decorations, whisk the egg white until lightly frothy. Working with 1 sprig at a time, lightly brush rosemary with egg white, then dredge with caster sugar, gently shaking off excess. Lay on to a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Repeat process with remaining rosemary sprigs, cinnamon sticks and cherries/cranberries. Leave to dry for at least 3hr.

5. Tie ribbon(s) round base of cake. Arrange crystallised rosemary in a wreath on top of the iced cake and intersperse with other crystallised elements, star anise, marzipan pinecones and amaretti biscuits, if you like.

GET AHEAD:
Cover cake with marzipan and sugarpaste layers up to a week ahead. Crystallise decorations and make pinecones up to 2 days ahead. (Store uncovered). 
TO STORE:
Keep uncovered for up to a week while the decorations look their best. The cake itself will keep much longer.

Source: GH