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Traditional Christmas Cake Part 4 – Covering The Cake

4 photo collage of covering British Christmas fruit cake in marzipan, with text 'Bake-together Part 4'.
In Part 4 of this traditional British Christmas cake bake-together, it is all about covering the cake. Part 1 was pre-soaking the fruit, Part 2 baking the cake, & Part 3 'feeding' the cake up to December, when ready to cover.  Learn how the cakes have been covered for over 100 years, using a popular Be-Ro recipe.


Part 4 – Covering The Cake

Below are the details of how to cover your Traditional Christmas cakes, as appeared in the original Be-Ro recipe books. This is part of a Traditional British Christmas Cake Bake-along. For all the details, the 100 year old recipe and parts in the series, go to Traditional Christmas Cake Bake-together.

Traditionally, British Christmas cakes are first covered in marzipan, and then topped with either fondant or Royal icing.

Below are recipes for homemade marzipan/almond paste & Royal icing as detailed in the old Be-Ro cookbooks. After that are links to my own recipes, tutorials & videos.

Photo of old Be-Ro cook book recipe for Almond Paste/marzipan for Christmas cake.

Covering In Marzipan

  • These are from the old Be-Ro books, with details of how much you require for certain Christmas cake sizes. You either cover with a thin layer of marzipan or almond paste, and then fondant icing or Royal Icing on top.
  • All of these will preserve the cake and make it last a long time. Note the annotations on this first photo are made by Christine’s gran because it was a well used recipe.

Photo of old Be-Ro cook book recipe for Almond Paste/marzipan and royal icing in blue and black text.

Conversions For Marzipan:

  • 10oz Ground Almonds = 284g = 3 level cups Almond meal
  • 8 oz Caster Sugar = 227g = 1⅛ cup
  • 8 oz Icing Sugar = 227g = 1¾ cup Powdered Sugar
  • 8 – 9″ = 20 – 23cm
  • 2lb = 32 oz = 907g = 7¼ cups Powdered Sugar

Another excerpt from the old Be-Ro books Christine has saved over the years.

Long black and white recipe page photo from Be-ro cook book on 'How To Ice A Cake', specifically for British Christmas cakes.
For a 8 – 9″ Cake (20.3 – 22.8cm)
  • 3¼ cups Almond Meal
  • 1 & scant ¼ cup Powdered Sugar
  • 32 oz (8 cups) Powdered Sugar
  • Pasturised egg whites, meringue powder or even Royal icing sugar with the dried egg whites in it.
  • For a tutorial & video on how to make up Royal icing, please see my friend Tanya’s recipe – Global Bakes Royal Icing.
  • Alternatively, watch her YouTube Royal icing Video that we used in our decoring sugar cookies bake-along. Note you will need the stiffer thicker consistency for covering your cake.

An even older edition of Be-Ro in the photo here, (that started in the 1920’s).


  • 1lb Ground Almonds = 454g = 16 oz = 5 cups Almond Meal
  • 12 oz Icing Sugar = 340g = 2¾ cups Powdered Sugar
  • 12 oz Caster Sugar = 340g = 1¾ level cups
  • 1lb Icing Sugar = 16 oz = 454g = 3½ cups Powdered Sugar



Covering With Marzipan

You don’t need to be super exact and perfect with the marzipan/almond paste covering. Roll it not too thin and thick enough to cover any bumps in your Christmas cake.

Best to turn the cake upside-down and have a nice smooth top for adding the toppings. See the photo collage here of me adding the rolled-out marzipan, after brushing on some jam (typical is apricot jam).

Using smoothers helps a lot and are inexpensive to buy, even the Poundshops/Dollar stores sell them.

For more on marzipan covering, see my Quicker British Christmas Cake tutorial.

Covering With Royal icing

Spread on the prepared Royal icing on top of your marzipan/almond paste layer, AFTER it has been left out to dry for at least 24 hours.

Use a palette knife or back of a large spoon or butter knife and apply a thin coat before going back around, covering with your choice of design. You can smooth on, spread in lines like in the photo collage, or do peaks.

See the collage where I turned the cake upside-down and applied to the sides (and just a little to the top edge) first & allowed to dry for about 30 minutes before turning over and doing the top. This ensured I had a nice neat finish along the bottom of the cake. For more on this see my Quicker Christmas Fruit Cake recipe.

White royal iced deep Christmas cake with bottle green ribbon on sides, homemade trees and tree to the back in a white setting with title.

Part 5 onwards has ideas for decorating your cakes – How to colour fondant for your Christmas Cake. For all other parts in the series, go to Traditional Christmas Cake Bake-together.

See also Part 7 -How To Cover Christmas Cakes or my new tutorial for a Fondant Penguin Christmas Cake.

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Happy Tummies & Memories!

Caro xx

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