For the filling
For the cake
For the buttercream
For the “drip” effect
For the trees and carol singers
To prepare the filling, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan and simmer slowly for 10 minutes, stirring from time to time. Remove the cinnamon and star anise. Set aside to cool completely.
To make the cake, preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Brush 2 x 23cm round loose base tins with butter. Line the base with a circle of parchment.
Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add each egg in, one at a time. Pour in the orange juice and zest. Fold in the flour and baking powder. Add enough water to form a soft batter.
Pour into the pre lined tins and bake for about 20 to 22 minutes or until cooked. Insert a skewer into the cake and it should come out clean. Leave in the tins for 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
To make the buttercream, combine the butter, icing sugar, vanilla and milk into a bowl and whisk with an electric beater for at least 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Spoon half into a piping bag without a nozzle.
To assemble the cake, which must be cold, slice each cake half in two, place on a cake stand and pipe buttercream around the edge of the cake. Spoon the cranberry & plum filling inside and spread over the top, cover with the other cake layer. Repeat until you end with a layer of cake. Spread the buttercream thinly over the sides to give the effect of “naked” ice. Spread a 2cm layer on the top of the cake and spread it to look like rifts of snow. To pipe the “drip” effect, make the royal icing according to the instructions on the packaging. Add the blue colouring. Check that the icing will “drip” off the spoon before transferring it into a piping bag without a nozzle. Snip the tip off and pipe along the edge just enough for it to drip down the sides.
To make the Christmas trees – shape a piece of ready roll icing into a cone shape – you will need 8 different size trees. Insert a cocktail stick in the base. Using your scissors, snip all the way randomly around the cone to form a tree. Arrange 5 of the trees in a group on top of the cake. The remaining 3 trees can be positioned around the base of the cake.
Making the carol singers – colour pieces of ready roll icing with green, red, black, yellow and blue colour paste. Wrap them in plastic wrap to prevent them from drying out. Shape 3 small pairs of boots from the icing. Mould a rounded coloured cone shape for the body (which will be the coat) and mark a line down the front. Position the body over the boots and secure together by pressing a cocktail stick right through to the base of the boots so that the carol singer can stand upright. Mould coloured icing for the arms. In a different colour ready roll icing, mould a scarf and hat to fit the body. Secure those on with egg white. Roll a little ball of icing for the head and secure that on the top before adding a hat. Add eyes, mouth and nose to each. Place the carol singers on top of the cake. Dust with a little icing sugar.
Recipe supplied by Catherine Fulvio