Quick one-hour Christmas cake decoration

Quick one-hour Christmas cake decoration
  • Time icon Hands-on time 1 hour, plus setting

Dressing up your fruit-studded Christmas cake in snow-white finery with a hidden layer of marzipan is a tradition worth sticking to. There’s no need to spend all afternoon decorating it, though.

This easy-but-beautiful Christmas cake decoration uses Delia’s classic Christmas cake as its base, but you can buy your own if you’re short on time.

Click here for all of our Christmas cake recipes.


  • 2 tbsp apricot jam, strained through a sieve
  • Icing sugar to dust
  • 350g natural marzipan

For the royal icing

  • 2 large free-range egg whites (see tips)
  • 450g icing sugar, sifted
  • 1 tsp glycerine (see Know-how)

For the frosted cranberries and rosemary sprigs

  • 200g fresh cranberries
  • 9 fresh rosemary sprigs, trimmed to fit
  • 1 large free-range egg white
    (see tips)
  • 200g caster sugar

You’ll also need…

  • 20cm Christmas cake, homemade or store-bought 


  1. Mix the apricot jam with a little boiling water in a small bowl, then use a pastry brush to coat the cake all over with the mixture. Dust the work surface with icing sugar, then roll out the marzipan into a large circle about 35cm in diameter. Using the rolling pin to help you, lift the marzipan and carefully lay it over the cake, making sure the centre of the marzipan circle is positioned on the centre of the cake.
  2. Use your hands to carefully smooth the marzipan over the cake, then trim any excess from around the base using a sharp knife.
  3. For the royal icing, put the egg whites in a medium mixing bowl. Add the icing sugar bit by bit, stirring until it reaches a thick dropping consistency. Whisk the mixture with a balloon whisk until it starts to form peaks when the whisk is removed, then stir in the glycerine.
  4. Smooth most of the icing all over the cake (and the dummy, if using – see tips) using a palette knife. Once it’s covered, wet the cleaned knife in a jug of hot water and run it all over the surface to give the icing a smooth or textured finish, as you prefer. The icing will set firm once dried. Put the remaining icing in a sealed food storage box to save for sticking on the finishing touches.
  5. While the icing is setting, make the frosted cranberries and rosemary sprigs. Lightly whisk the egg white in a small bowl then, using a pastry brush, carefully coat the cranberries and rosemary sprigs with it. Roll in caster sugar, then put on a wire rack for 10 minutes to set.
  6. Stick the frosted rosemary sprigs onto the side of the cake using the leftover icing, then pile the frosted cranberries in the centre of the cake. It’s now ready to serve.

delicious. tips

  1. Lightly whisk and freeze leftover egg yolks for up to 3 months.

    If you want to make your own Christmas cake recipe, you can find plenty of inspiration here. We stood our cake on a 20cm cake dummy to give it more height, and iced the dummy too. Buy one from Hobbycraft.

  2. Decorate the cake up to 2 days ahead and leave somewhere cool.

  3. Glycerine is a colourless sweetener. Adding it to icing gives it a softer texture.


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