Source for this image here.
Usually by the end of the second week of December, I have got our Christmas cake marzipanned and iced. Some years Papa Bear has iced it, and on those years, it has definitely looked better than the years when I do it! Sometimes it has smooth icing, others, rough, and always lots of embellishments and decorations. This year, however, is different. After several years of finding that we were still eating Christmas cake in February, we all agreed that wonderful though it looks, the extremely rich and sweet combination of fruit cake, marzipan and royal icing, is perhaps not the first choice we would make, if we were really honest about what sort of cake we wanted to eat at Christmas.So that led to lots of discussion about what sort of cake we would really like to have instead, and in fact it wasn't difficult! We have many cakes that we enjoy on special occasions throughout the year, but one of the cakes that we all agree we love especially, and which is perfect for a winter celebration, is a rich chocolate and orange cake. Papa Bear especially loves the combination of chocolate and orange flavours, and the cubs were very keen to go for this as well, so a chocolate orange cake it had to be.
After doing a little research, I settled on this cake, which looks suitably festive, whilst also not being too complicated or expensive to make. I have decided to embellish it a little for Christmas by adding some gold sprinkles to the orange rind on top, and plan to bake it next weekend - as it's not a fruit cake, it will be best made much closer to Christmas than a traditional Christmas cake.
However, did you know that it isn't too late to make a "traditional" type of Christmas cake if that is what you prefer and yet you've not had a chance to bake one so far? Here are two recipes which will make a decent substitute for the proper Christmas fruit cake, which needs to be made well in advance to allow for the maturing of the flavours.
Christmas Sherry Mincemeat Cake (if you don't want to use alcohol, the fruit can be steeped in tea or fruit juice).
If you are going to make one of these cakes, I would suggest not trying to ice it in the traditional way, as you need to be able to let the marzipan dry out properly before you royal ice it (if not, the oils in the marzipan will leak through the icing, making it look, I always think, like snow after it has started to thaw!). Instead, why not try using lots of different glace fruits, glazed with melted jam? The same website that shares the second cake I've posted above, has a recipe here.
Of course, you could also do what we have decided to do, and use a different cake recipe altogether - or what about making a special Christmas ice cream? This is a good one - though once again, you don't need to use alcohol to soak the fruit - I always use orange or apple juice instead, as we do not drink alcohol. And don't forget - if you are anything like us, we're always so full after the main course on Christmas Day, that we often don't want any dessert until Boxing Day!