When I started decorating cakes, my mum was delighted that she’d never have to ice a Christmas cake again. Even though she’s good at it, it’s not a job she relishes and she left the job and the theme up to me.
I went for a Russian theme because my parents, for reasons I have never quite fathomed, love Russian things. My dad did GCSE Russian at an evening class and has nearly mastered the alphabet; when my mum finally got a passport in 1997, the first place she went was Moscow. Here she is looking cold in front of some churches.
Although I based the church on a real life Russian church I was worried it looked more like the Taj Mahal, but once I’d added some fir trees and glitter it started to look more the part. I copied an Old Church Slavonic-style font and painted on “S Rozhdyestvom Khristovym - Happy Christmas” in shiny gold, glad that an A level in Russian had finally come in handy.
I have been doing some classes with Marion at Cakes, Cutters and Classes in Gosforth and at the Christmas cake class we did stenciling, a technique I’ve been wanting to learn for a while. It turns out it’s easy and fun, not least as it involves a scalpel.
Here’s how: lightly grease a non-stick board and roll out your florist paste. Turn the paste over so that the greased side is upwards and place the stencil on it.
Brush the cut-outs with edible dust or royal icing and glitter, lift the stencil off and cut out the shape with a scalpel leaving a 1mm border, then attach the paste to the cake with edible glue.
We also did brush embroidery at the class with a traditional holly, ivy and Christmas rose pattern. I gave this cake to my Grandma. As she’s from Yorkshire she might well eat her fruit cake with Wensleydale cheese. That’s entirely her business, I am not here to judge (it’s against man and God).
Marion has sold Cakes, Cutters and Classes this month and is looking forward to retirement at long last. She’s a great teacher. Like any mother, she has eyes in the back of her head for any cake-decorating naughtiness but also a gentle approach that says “here, let me fix this for you”. I wish her a very happy retirement and am delighted that she’s promised to carry on teaching.
Hope you all had a happy Christmas!