Togetherness, inspiration and creativity

How to Make a Festive Bear Christmas Cake [Mich Turner MBE]

How to Make a Festive Bear Christmas Cake [Mich Turner MBE]

I have been hosting my annual Christmas Masterclasses in London for over 15 years and every year comes the challenge of designing the Christmas Cake for the class to recreate. The Masterclass is a highlight of the year with many of my attendees coming back year after year. This year I have taken inspiration from the German Christmas Markets. The cake is decorated with a hand-piped garland and hand finished decorations. I have set the cake on an iced board that has been decorated to resemble a wood effect with a hand-piped message. The festive bear on the top has been made from chocolate sugar paste complete with Santa hat and gingerbread lebkuchen heart. — Mich Turner

You Will Need:

Decoration:

Method – For the Base Board

1. Knead equal portions of vanilla and chocolate sugar paste separately until pliable. Roll these into two sausages and lay them next to each other. You will not need to use any additional icing sugar at this stage.

2. Take a knife and press generous amounts of the 3 additional food colour gels along the length of the sugar paste log.

3. Knead the log by rolling into a long log and then bringing the two outer ends into the centre as shown. It is imperative to ONLY knead the paste in this direction and continue to roll out and bring the 2 outer ends into the centre. Repeat until you have an interestingly coloured, striated log.

4. Cut the log into smaller sections (approximately 10cm long and 2cm diameter).

5. Roll the small log out by rolling down the length of the log to create the wood strip effect. Lay the piece into position on the baseboard which has been moistened with a pastry brush and a little cooled boiled water. Trim the edge to be met by the next piece of paste so it is straight, and repeat until the board is fully covered with chocolate wood strip pieces. (You will see I have cut some of these strips across so they even better resemble a wood strip effect.)

6. Use a rolling pin across the grain to ensure the paste is well set and even.

7. Press the impression mat into the paste while it is still pliable to achieve the woodgrain.

8. Trim the excess paste from the board using a sharp knife. Allow to firm until set (2-3 hours) and finally fix a length of ribbon around the baseboard, held in position with a glue stick.

Method – To Decorate

1. Fix the cake into position on the baseboard using royal icing to hold in place. (I have placed mine slightly to the back of the board to allow the message to be positioned in front of the cake.) Fix a length of ribbon around the base of the cake held in position with royal icing.

2. For the decoration, I marked the top of the cake with 6 equal points. I hand-piped a garland using red royal icing to join these points together and hand-piped a bow.

3. For the Christmas decorations, I made these beforehand to allow them to dry. Each was cut out using a mixture of fondant and gum paste for extra strength. They also allowed me to roll them finer. I added hand-piped detail to each of the decorations and allowed them to dry.

4. Each decoration has been fixed into position on the cake using a little royal icing.

Method – To Make the Festive Bear

1. Knead a pear shape of chocolate paste and insert a dowelling rod through the centre.

2. Shape paste to create a head, two arms and base legs, and fix these into position as shown.

3. Add the muzzle and ear and use the cone tool and blade tool to add the details.

4. Make a Santa hat and fix this in position with cocktail sticks.

5. Roll small cones of white paste and insert into the eye sockets with a small black sugar paste pupil.

6. Roll out a piece of chocolate sugar paste, lay a sheet of clingfilm over the top, and cut out a heart. This will create a pillowy shape which can be hand decorated and held in position with royal icing.

TOP TIP: The paste is quite tacky so only needs a little moist water (use a paintbrush) to fix the elements into position. I used royal icing with the heart for extra security. Use a palette knife to carefully lift the festive bear into position on the top of the cake.

Method – Hand-Piped Message

1. Roll out a piece of white sugar paste and use a sharp knife/rotary cutter to cut a plaque approximately 15cm x 3cm.

2. Fix this into position on the baseboard in front of the cake, moistened with a little water.

3. Allow to firm up and then either scribe or hand-pipe freehand the message in white royal icing.

4. Hand-pipe over the top in red royal icing to finish.

“Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!” — Mich Turner MBE

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