Tag Archives: Christmas Cake

Forest Fox – Christmas Cake 2017

Padding softly through the snowy woodland
the Forest Fox searches for somewhere safe and cosy to sleep…
and he becomes this year’s Christmas cake theme.

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I decorated my cake with some of my favourite things: woodland animals, acorns, snow, autumn/winter leaves, and trees.

Forest Fox Sleepy Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I relate to the aloneness of foxes (not loneliness), so right now it is the most appropriate creature to decorate my cake. I did not want to think about people. I wanted the trees, the scents and colors, the shifting shadows of the wood, which spoke a language I understood. I wished I could simply disappear in it, live like a bird or a fox through the winter, and leave the things I had glimpsed to resolve themselves without me.’ ― Patricia A. McKillip, Winter Rose.

 

Forest Fox Trio - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook 2017

© Lisa Shambrook

I covered the cake with smooth fondant icing, concealing a mound that my fox can find shelter beneath. I made chocolate fondant logs (sadly, the chocolate fondant I found is not vegan, so is the only bit Bekah won’t be able to eat!) and a tree trunk, and filled it with fondant snowballs, sugar snowflakes, and silver and pearl sugar balls. He sleeps on a bed of winter fallen oak leaves. Acorns and holly leaves are strewn across the den and paw prints show you how he got there!

Forest Fox Acorns Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

I mentioned in my last post that the cake is vegan. I used dairy-free margarine/butter (vegetable or sunflower oil based spread) and instead of eggs I used chickpea water. This worked really well. The chickpea water (aquafaba – bean water) has a strong smell of beans, so I added a few drops of vanilla essence as I whisked it. 3 tablespoons of chickpea water replaces one egg, and needs to be whisked for a few minutes until foamy then added as you would each egg. The resultant cake is lovely. The smell of beans fades with baking and the cake is firm and looks no different to an ordinary Christmas cake. Smells gorgeous while baking and tastes no different!

Next time I make a sponge cake for my vegan daughter, I will definitely be using chickpea water.

Forest Fox Woodland Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

CaptureSo, when it came to guessing how I’d decorate my cake many people looked back at my love of dragons and thought a variety of dragons could adorn my cake for a second year, but not so. Nobody except almost my husband guessed this one. If he’d switched his guess of squirrel with fox he’d have got it outright! My daughter, Cait, did guess woodland animals… But without a correct answer online I put all the names of those who’ve made a guess into a Random Name Selector and Julia came up as the winner! Julia, you’ll be getting a signed copy of A Symphony of Dragons!

Forest Fox Christmas Cake 2017 - The Last Krystallos - Lisa Shambrook

© Lisa Shambrook

Christmas is only a few days away – and I wish you all the joy it can bring!

Enjoy your Christmas Cake!

Christmas Cake and Competitions – Win A Symphony of Dragons

This is the time of the year we start to think of cakes and Christmas decorations.
Today I’ll be making our cake – and considering my decorating plans!

Christmas Cake and Competition 2017 - The Last Krystallos

I’ve always used the same recipe, tried and tested, but when my daughter became vegan over a year ago, I tried to make it with an egg supplement powder, so she wouldn’t miss out. The cake was still delicious, but it was very crumbly. This year, I’m going to try using chickpea water as an egg replacement. 3 tablespoons of drained chickpea water is the equivalent to one egg, lightly whip to a foamy texture for baking. I’ll let you know how well that works.

It was a great pleasure to have my Melting Snowmen Christmas Cake included in DotComGiftShop’s blog post How to Decorate your Christmas Cake. My Melting Snowmen was one of my favourite cakes to decorate…here are the other Christmas cakes I’ve already decorated over the last few years.

Which is your favourite?

Favourite Christmas Cakes - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

So, as it’s Christmas, and gift giving is fun, and we’ve done this before… here’s a little competition.

Next week I’ll be decorating this year’s cake. The design is planned, drawn up, and sealed away. We have this competition in my family. I keep the cake under wraps and my husband and children guess how I’ve decorated it, then they discover who’s right with the unveiling.

Symphony_of_Dragons_Lisa_ShambrookI will send a paperback copy of A Symphony of Dragons to the reader who correctly guesses the design that will appear on top of my Christmas Cake this year!

(In the event of more than one correct guess, I will put names in the proverbial hat and draw one winner.)

Leave your guesses below in comments, or on my Facebook Author Page.
No guesses on my personal FB share will be counted as we’re not allowed to promote competitions on personal pages.
Be sure to comment your guess here or on my FB Author Page. I’ll add a final comment here to add FB guesses, so it remains transparent.

I don’t give clues, much to my children’s chagrin, but I haven’t repeated a design yet, so maybe that is a clue!

What will be on my Christmas Cake this year?

How are you decorating your cake?

What was your favourite Christmas Cake ever? 

Vegan Christmas Cake Recipe - The Last Krystallos

© Lisa Shambrook

Let Sleeping Dragons Lie – Christmas Cake 2016

It’s an exhausting business protecting your castle ruins…
but it’s good to keep a hoard of snowballs at the ready while you take a nap…

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It wasn’t difficult to choose a theme for my Christmas cake this year – I’d spent November writing a first draft of my next novel dragon post-apocalypse fantasy, and over the past few months I’ve been making dragons and castle turrets in pottery, plus a secret piece of art involving dragons, and putting together my book of dragon short stories… It’s funny, really, that I chose dragons, lol.

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© Lisa Shambrook

I made a vegan cake, as Bekah’s been vegan for about a year now. It meant using vegetable fat and switching eggs for an egg substitute. Last time I used the egg supplement, I made a chocolate cake which tasted amazing, but crumbled straight away. This time, it worked better, the fruit cake held together, but I didn’t risk moving it around too much before covering with marzipan and fondant. It may still be a bit crumbly when we cut into it!

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© Lisa Shambrook

I had to slightly alter my design when I realised I’d thrown out my deep 7” cake tin, and only had a shallow 9” tin. I had wanted to create a turret all the way round the sides of the cake with a door in the side, but I think I prefer the ruins my dragon’s ended up with.

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© Lisa Shambrook

My dragon is based on the sleeping dragon I made in pottery class, and I added the ruined wall, a broken wooden door, a log and snowballs. After all, defending with flames will just melt the snow and my ice dragon enjoys the fun of winter, so it’s snowball ammunition!

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© Lisa Shambrook

I’m hoping for snow this Christmas, not really had any for a few years, and I’m looking forward to my feet crunching through the white stuff, building snowmen, and breathing dragon smoke in the frost…

What’s decorating your Christmas cake this year?

I hope you all have a great Christmas!

Rudolph on Ice – Christmas Cake 2015

Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer – won’t you guide my sleigh tonight?

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Rudolph found his way onto my cake this year, though it looks like he’s got more grace in flight than on ice…

I found some great ideas on Pinterest and amalgamated a few to make my own design, but Rudolph came from this brilliant You Tube tutorial. My sugar-paste (fondant) skills are basic, but after a wonky Rudolph, I produced this one and was quite happy with him.

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Rudolph © Lisa Shambrook

I made small hills and covered the whole cake in smooth fondant, then placed Rudolph on top and shattered ice behind him. If you place Fox’s Glacier Mints on baking paper you can melt them at a low temperature (about 100C) for ten minutes and create ice. If you smash the mints first you get broken ice. (My mint/ice always bubbles, so if you know how to get smooth ice, please let me know!)

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© Lisa Shambrook

I bought a little set of small star stamp cutters, (I love TKMaxx) and made Christmas trees with them. Four of the large stars placed on top of each other overlapping ‘branches’ then four more smaller and finally four more tiny stars and a point on top. Very effective!

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© Lisa Shambrook

A shimmer of royal icing snow and edible glitter and we’re done.

When I asked here and on Facebook for guesses, we had some great ones, including some left of centre Star Wars and Dr Who themed ideas – maybe I’ve been posting about Star Wars on Facebook a little too often 😉 We had starry nights, angels, Narnia (that would be pretty), reindeer, Santa and Rudolph, penguins, robins and Christmas Trees, and I’m not beyond trying something twice…and poinsettia…

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© Lisa Shambrook

The idea had been cemented and my plan printed out before I posted my last blog post, so the guesses were fun to watch and Eilís Phillips mentioned reindeer so she wins a signed paperback copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’, but it’s Christmas and I decided to send copies out to those who also mentioned Rudolph or reindeer, so both Carly Sewell and Nick Johns win copies too.

At home Caitlin guessed reindeer on an icy road, which was right, and in Canada via emails Dan finally chose reindeer too, though he commented: I am probably completely wrong because I can’t read your face, ha ha… So that’s how he guesses!

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© Lisa Shambrook

So here’s to the most famous reindeer of all!

How are you decorating your Christmas Cake this year?

Decorating Christmas Cakes…and a Competition

Christmas cake – are you enticed by taste or decoration?
In our family, Vince and the children make the cake
and I decorate it – and we get the best of both worlds!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Decorating the cake has become a bit
of an event in our household

and this year you can join in…

So, gifts have been bought, nativities visited, carols are being sung, my frosted icicles are up, and the tree is clothed with an eclectic assortment of baubles. Steampunk, glass, and wood ornaments, Santa and reindeer, snowmen and frost, stars and angels…and much more. I love arty trimmings and my tree is pretty much a mix of shop bought and homemade. And this year we even invested in a real potted tree, which I adore!

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© Lisa Shambrook

But now for the cake. Several years ago I watched Kirstie Allsopp’s Handmade Christmas where they made polar bears for the Christmas cake. I made notes and sketches, and disappeared the next day into the kitchen with fondant icing… A few squashed bears later, I had my cake. I revealed it to the family to much delight, as the most I’d ever done on our cake before was rough royal icing with a couple of shop decorations placed on top, maybe a sprig of holly if I wanted it to look posh!

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© Lisa Shambrook

The next year I upped the stakes, shut myself away, and created penguins. Let’s just say several penguins got thrown across the kitchen amid tantrums, as black food colouring in white fondant seemed not to be the easiest icing to work with. The family were refused entry into the kitchen, purely because I wasn’t sure it would work – and I’m sure they wondered what on earth I was doing! In the end the penguins sat enchanted beside a melted glacier mint pond.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Then I decided to learn how to cover a cake in smooth fondant icing and we got cute, fat robins atop a winter tree.

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© Lisa Shambrook

My most favourite cake came next, and Pinterest was pretty influential. Wow, the ideas! I saw melted snowmen cookies and took it another step, placing three on my cake. This time the cake was covered with smooth fondant and topped with rough royal for snow. The actual snowmen were marshmallows melted for a few seconds in the microwave and decorated with eyes, nose, twig arms and silver sugar balls for buttons! This one was so effective!

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© Lisa Shambrook

Not sure how to top my melted snowmen, I was inspired by creative Christmas card designs on Pinterest using buttons. I made a classy Button Christmas tree with chocolate fondant and green sugar strands and added fondant buttons and silver balls.

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© Lisa Shambrook

Last year I took the traditional Yule log idea and covered the cake with smooth chocolate fondant, then it snowed with rough royal icing and I twined fondant ivy all around, adding sprinkles of glitter powder for frost and crushed, melted glacier mints for ice

Each time I decorated the cake, my family were kicked out of the kitchen with not a peek at the cake until I was done. They were soon offering furtive observations and asking crafty questions to discover clues, but I jealously guarded the secrets until the reveals. Now they put in official guesses and we see if anyone comes up with the same idea as me!

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So, this year I’m opening up the question… What will I put on my Christmas cake? If you can guess how I’ll decorate the cake, you could win a signed copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’.

You’ll have to trust me that I won’t be swayed by guesses that appear here or on Facebook or Twitter…I am a woman of integrity, and I already know exactly how I’ll be decorating the cake this year!

I’ll put all the correct answers into the proverbial hat and pull out a winner when I reveal the decorated cake. Until I post the photographs of this year’s cake, you can keep guessing…

So, how do you think I’ll decorate our Christmas cake?

Beneath the Rainbow AD with SynopsisLeave your guess in the comments below, or on my Facebook post, and I’ll contact the winner in a post or message once the cake is decorated. I’ll post here and on FB, and the winner will get a signed paperback copy of ‘Beneath the Rainbow’ just before or just after Christmas!
This contest is open internationally
.

If I can’t contact the winner, or there is no reply to my winner’s post within a week, I will choose the next correct or closest answer as winner.

 

Button Christmas Tree Cake

This year’s Christmas cake hits all the right buttons! After polar bears, penguins, robins and melting snowmen…I was looking for a new idea. I found this pretty scrapbook Christmas card on Pinterest and inspiration hit!

Button Christmas Tree Cake decorated by Lisa Shambrook

This is how I put it together:

  • Marzipan and then cover the cake in white fondant icing.
  • Roll a narrow trunk from chocolate fondant icing and roll thin branches, six each side, stick them to the iced cake by brushing on water with an artist’s soft paintbrush.
  • Use whatever colour fondant icing you desire for your buttons. I wanted natural coloured buttons, so mixed white fondant with brown and added a couple of lilac buttons.
  • Follow instructions here to make your buttons (Pinterest is so useful!) In case the post is ever removed…roll fondant then cut out buttons using a tiny circle cookie cutter or the end of icing tips, add the holes using a cocktail stick, then decorate pressing the star end of icing tips against the buttons, or pressing a fork onto them, or indenting with whatever pattern you like.
  • Add your buttons to the tree.
  • Add small twigs, rolled from chocolate fondant. Gently mark the trunk to make it bark-like.
  • Add silver balls.
  • Add green sugar strands, use tweezers to pick them up and a cocktail stick to gently manoeuvre into place.
  • Make Royal icing and spread across the bottom of the cake and down the sides to make a snowy base, and add whatever sprinkles you wish. I added shop bought sugar snowballs, ice, silver balls and snowflakes.
Button Christmas Tree Cake decorated by Lisa Shambrook
Thus…a lovely Button Christmas Tree cake.
I always decorate the cake on my own and we have a small family competition to guess what they’ll find on top. The children made guesses, and came close, but this was pretty original!
In case you’re interested, these are the past years cakes…now to start pinning ideas for next year on my secret Pinterest board!
Polar bears, robins, penguins and melting snowmen cakes decorated by Lisa Shambrook
How are you decorating yours?

Melting Snowmen Christmas Cake…

So, it’s Christmas again…and the challenge of decorating the cake came around…
Private Photo (Do Not Use)
We have a tradition in our family, where Dad makes the cake with the help of the children. See above for 2001 photograph, many years ago, now it’s pretty much Caitlin who helps (she’s the baby in this one!) 
After the cake is made, it’s left to me to marzipan and decorate. Up until a few years ago the cake was always roughly marzipaned and then slathered with stiff, peaky royal icing and then I plonked a couple of Christmas cake winter ornaments on top and that was it! We were happy, but a couple of years ago I was inspired by Kirsty Allsopp and used her idea of polar bears on the cake. 
Not knowing if I could duplicate the said polar bears, I disappeared into the kitchen on my own and created… it worked! See here for the result! 
Last year I made Penguins…
Ever since I have cordoned of the kitchen during the decorating process and banned anyone from seeing anything until it’s finished.
It’s even turned into a competition to see if anyone can guess what I might do each year!
This year it was melted snowmen…inspired by trulycustomcakery cake’s Pinterest pic of melting snowmen cookies, and I decided to use her marshmallow technique to put them on top of my Christmas cake! 
Photo by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without crediting)
The cake was covered in marzipan and iced with fondant icing, then I put a layer of stiff royal icing to make snow. I added more water to the royal icing to make three icing snowman puddles on top, which I loved as it ran down the sides of the cake! 
Then came the marshmallows…that was the experimental bit…
Place a marshmallow on a piece of silicone or greaseproof paper and place it in the mircrowave. The instructions are not to walk away and watch at all times, as it swells (puffs up) take it out…somewhere between 8 and 15 seconds. Do not let it double it’s size or it’ll just be a gooey puddle. 
Taking them off the paper wasn’t easy either. The original poster recommended covered your fingers with grease to take them off. I covered a palette knife with oil and tried, I did get sticky and I did use way more than three marshmallows, have plenty spare! 
Then I made chocolate fondant arms, orange fondant noses and black fondant eyes, and obviously sugar silver balls became buttons…and there you have it a melting snowmen Christmas cake! 
Photo by Lisa Shambrook (Please do not use without crediting)
How do you decorate yours?

So Here It Is…

Having just decorated the cake, it now feels like Christmas! It’s been the same over the last few years…my cakes used to be standard, just rough iced, but after watching Kirsty Allsopp a couple of years ago I became more adventurous!

The first year I put polar bears on my cake and I haven’t looked back since…this year I attempted penguins. Not all plain sailing…couldn’t buy black fondant icing anywhere, so had to make it with food colouring. Advice is to use gel paste colourings, but couldn’t find a black one, so it was liquid colours…and that didn’t help. You need a lot to make white fondant black, though I made it a day before and it darkened from steel-grey to black overnight. The icing became softer and stickier with each drop of black…which added to my frustration as I tried to mould penguins. It turned out to be easier to keep the icing in the fridge and only bring it out each time I moulded or added something (eyes, feet etc), was a long drawn out operation and several penguins were violently sacrificed during this process!
The iced-over pond was made by melting four glace mints in a tiny cake tin on grease-proof paper (at a low temperature for about 15 mins) then cooling in the fridge. The bubbles made as the mint heats makes the ‘ice’ you’re left with look pretty authentic! The pond sits on top of very stiff royal icing (I add as little water as I can get away with when making my royal icing, I like the peaks!) and I lightly coloured the icing below the pond with the palest blue (food colouring). Finished with a few snow-covered rocks of white fondant and the penguins surrounded by ‘snowballs’ (sugar decorations) and silver balls.
The rest of my cake is a standard rich fruit Christmas cake and traditional marzipan. My husband makes the cake with the children, I marzipan it…then make decisions about decorating it myself in secret and we all enjoy the big reveal when it’s finished!

So, yes, now it’s Christmas! We’ve decorated the tree…I love that my tree is covered with individual decorations, which I add to each year with anything unique I can find. I love homemade decorations too, the children’s school efforts…Bekah’s robin, Dan’s star and angel and Cait’s snowflake… Almost nothing is repeated, and this year I made my own Button Snowflake and Button icicle (similar to the snowflake, but buttons on one white lollipop stick, both sides, big buttons at the top and small at the bottom…)

I’ve had my face painted, cute snowflake on my cheek. Bekah is starting up a Face Painting business http://littlemasterpiecefp.blogspot.com/ and she painted faces at our local church Christmas party…some excited little tigers! See her Facebook Page for some more great pictures: http://www.facebook.com/LittleMasterpieceFacepainting

Along with the cake we’ve made our Christmas pudding, lovely recipe, which makes our main pudding and several mini ones too! Takes ten hours in the oven, but oh boy, the house smells good that day!
We’ve even been carol singing…granted, people find it strange that a large group can go carol singing and not expect payment, but being out in the dark singing carols and wandering down a street of twinkling Christmas lights is magic!
Since Caitlin moved to High School, I’ve missed the infants/junior school concerts and nativities…what’s not to love about little boys with gold cardboard crowns, tea-towel shepherds, grumpy inn-keepers who forget to open the door, reindeer with runny noses and angels with wonky halos..? I miss the innocence and enthusiasm!

So what’s left? I must finish the present wrapping (before school’s out!), Santa’s done all his! We’ve got our Santa hats, the holly and the ivy…what more?

Perhaps just the time to take a moment and remind myself of the reason for it all…

‘And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped himin swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger…’ (Luke 2:7)