Last weekend I went to a Santa fancy dress party… was there really any choice about what to make?
I wanted to add a little twist to some simple vanilla cupcakes – so added 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 1/2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon of nutmeg to the batter, to give them a lovely warm festive spice.
Would you believe the one time I don’t want them too – they actually over-rose, so I had to trim the tops slightly to give a flat base for the fondant (great excuse for taste testing though!)
To add some extra flavour, moisture and general stickiness to the cakes, I brushed them with a sticky spice glaze. This was made simple by boiling 3 tbsp water, 75g brown sugar, a splash of vanilla essence and pinch of nutmeg. Boiled (in a non stick pan) for about a minute and then left to cool, it cooled to a thick, syrupy glaze which I brushed onto the still-warm cupcakes.
Having found some fondant-confidence from my cupcake decorating class a few weeks ago, I decided to top the cupcakes entirely with fondant. One of the things I learnt about in the class was tylo(tylose) powder. Adding it to fondant makes gumpaste, which is a bit more pliable and easy to work with, but the real benefit is that it makes the icing set harder and firmer, so your shapes stay put, colours don’t merge, etc. I bought this big tub online for about £5, it will last a long time. For about 250g of fondant you need perhaps a teaspoon of tylo powder and just need it in. You can get granules but this fine stuff is better for adding to fondant.
And as if that’s not useful enough – you can also use the tylo to make edible glue, to stick different bits of fondant (or gumpaste) together. Simply mix about 1/4 teaspoon of tylo with 2 tablespoons of water in a small pot, and mix well. And tada, glue!
For these santa cupcakes I shaped all the fondant with these 3 concentric pastry circle cutters. You can see each has a smooth-sided edge and a fluted side of the same size.
To start, for the face base, a simple of circle of pink icing the same size as the cupcake. The sugar glaze on the cake was more than sticky enough to hold in place. (While wracking my cupboards for a good skin-coloured mix, I came across the leftover ready-made pink fondant from my Nanny’s 80th cake. Hurrah! It pays to have endless cupboards of cake decorating items…)
Next up – the moustache. I brushed the bottom of the pink fondant with a little edible glue. A little goes a long way, and it works well to put it on before you cut out your shapes so it can get a little tacky. If you forget, it still works to stick things straight on top!
To cut the beard, I used white fondant and the middle cutters fluted edge, then cut across to fit the face with the smooth side of the largest circle.
Next up, moustache – a combination of the smallest and largest fluted circles.
For some reason I didn’t take a photo of the hats. It took a fair amount of working in the colour paste to get the vibrant red but well worth it - they were cut with just a triangle (I used a paper template so they’d all be the same angle) rounded at the bottom with one of smooth edges.
The fur trim for the hat was simply 2 concentric smooth-edged rounds, trimmed at the sides so they’d fit neatly around the base of the hat.
To get the furry effect on Santa’s hat trim, I simply used a cocktail stick to mottle little dots all the way across the white piece.
A small ball of pink for the nose, and a white ball for the hat pom-pom; again I mottled this with a cocktail stick so it would look furry.
Some little black eyes and a good brush of edible glitter later (I kept it just on the fur so Santa looked extra polished) – and Mr Claus was ready to go!
Which is the real Santa? Well, that’d be telling… and I do want him to bring my presents in a couple of days time!
They went down a treat – and what a fantastic party it was too!