Published On: Fri, Nov 11th, 2016

Advent Cake

This clever Advent Cake, with a generous layer of marzipan icing is perfect for little cherubs and those who love marzipan and icing as much as, or more than, the fruit cake!


Advent Cake

Preparation time 1hr 45mins – Baking time 2 hours – Serves 24

For the fruit mix:

  • 170g soft brown sugar
  • 340g butter
  • 680g luxury mixed fruit
  • 4 tsp mixed spice
  • 425ml milk

For the cake:

  • 170g glacé cherries
  • 3 eggs beaten
  • 85g chopped walnuts or chopped dates if you prefer
  • 510g self raising flour
  • 11/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the decoration:

  • 500g sugar paste
  • 500g marzipan
  • Small amounts of coloured sugar paste, your choice of colours
  • Apricot glaze/jam
  • Vodka or boiled water
  • Icing sugar for dusting
  • Cutters, we used a star, snowflake, robin and Christmas tree
  • Edible glue
  • Edible glitter
  • Edible food pen


  1. Place all the ingredients for the fruit mix into a large saucepan, bring to the boil then allow to cool for approx 30 mins.
  2. Preheat the oven to 160˚C/140˚C fan/ gas mark 3 and butter and line a 37×26.5cm straight edged roasting tin with baking parchment. If you cut the baking parchment to rise above the sides, the cake will be easier to remove from the tin.
  3. Add the cherries and nuts to the mix and stir through. Next add the eggs and stir through before adding the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Fold through until fully combined.
  4. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin. Bake for 2 hours but check after 1 hour. If the cake is getting too dark but is not yet cooked through, cover loosely with foil. To check if the cake is cooked thoroughly, insert a skewer and if it comes away clean it is ready. Leave to cool in the tin before removing and placing on a cooling rack. The cake must be completely cold to decorate.
  5. To decorate, start by using the tin the cake was cooked in to draw around on parchment paper to make a template.
  6. Knead a small amount of marzipan and roll out a sausage length to fit around the outside top edge of the cake. Dragging the flat edge of the knife across the sausage of marzipan towards the centre will give you a flat surface for a neater finish.
  7. Turn the cake over and place on a cake board and brush the top with the boiled apricot glaze. Knead the remaining marzipan slightly before rolling out. Lightly dust work surface with icing sugar and roll out marzipan to approx 0.5cm thickness.
    Cut the marzipan using the template with a pizza cutter if you have one or knife, and place on top of the cake. Smooth the top and edges slightly with a smoother or with your hands.
  8. Brush the top of the marzipan with either a small amount of vodka or cooled boiled water. Knead the sugar paste before rolling out. Lightly dust your work surface with icing sugar and roll out to 0.5cm thickness. Cut to size using the template again and place onto the moistened surface of the marzipan. Smooth edges and top as you did with the marzipan.
  9. Fold your parchment template to make 24 portions, unfold again and place on the cake. Using a metal straight edge or your palette knife, gently press markers around the cake using your template as a guide, then remove the template and gently press into the icing to achieve straight lines to show 24 neat portions.
  10. To make the decorations, knead the sugar paste colours you have chosen, small pieces at a time and dust with a little icing sugar, rubbing in gently. Roll out onto a surface dusted with icing sugar. Roll as thinly as you can and before cutting, make sure your sugar paste can move freely on the board. Cut out your decorations using different shapes and place onto the cake, attaching with a little edible glue when you are happy with your design. We used a black edible food pen to write the numbers 1-24 on our advent cake, keep your hand steady without leaning on the cake as this will dent and mark your finish. When all of the portions are decorated you can then add a sprinkle of glitter and finish with a ribbon.

* You can always add a glug of brandy or rum to the boiled fruit mix and drizzle a little on the cooled cake, this will help it to keep longer.
* Store double clingfilmed or in an airtight container.
* To make our robin red breast we rolled a little circle of red onto brown sugar paste and placed the cutter so that the red was in the right place, then cut. You could of course cut a separate piece of red and overlay using edible glue. Use the edible pen to dot his eye.
* If mixing any of your own colours, after kneading in, cut paste in half to check colour is even throughout.

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