This stunning cake is perfect for a Christmas occasion, and will be sure to wow your friends and family.
Heat the oven to gas 3, 170°C, fan 150°C. Grease and flour a 21cm x 11cm 9cm box loaf tin. Beat the butter and sugar together using a hand held whisk until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well each time then sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Fold through with a large spoon until just combined. Stir through the vanilla and keep adding green food colouring until it becomes a deep green shade. Transfer to the oven to bake for 50 minutes, until it is golden. Test that it is ready by inserting a skewer – it should be clean when you pull it out.
Allow the cake to cool inside the tin for five minutes then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Meanwhile, grease a 18cm x 18cm round tin, with a removable base. Double line non-stick baking parchment, allow an extra inch above the rim of the cake tin, to allow for the cake mixture to rise.
Turn the cake onto its side and cut the green sponge into a Christmas tree shape (imagine three pyramids sitting on each other but don't cut too much away from the centre or the cake will collapse.) Secure from the top to the bottom with a long skewer. Place in the centre of the lined cake tin and secure with another skewer, piercing through the lining and taping the skewers into a cross shape so the tree does not move during filling or cooking.
To make the vanilla cake, beat the butter and sugar together, as above. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well. Sift in the flour, baking powder and salt. Fold through with a large spoon then stir through the vanilla and milk. Gently spoon the vanilla cake mix into the tin making sure to fill the holes under the tree branches. Filling a piping bag and squeezing the mixture slowly into the tin can help with this.
The cake mix will just cover the top of the tree. Transfer carefully to the oven and bake for an hour and 20-30 minutes, or until you can insert a skewer and it comes out clean. Keep an eye on the sponge. You will need to cover it with foil after about 30 minutes so it doesn't brown too much. Once baked, leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before carefully removing and leaving to cool completely on a wire rack.
To make the icing, whisk the egg whites to soft peaks with an electric hand whisk. Place the sugar, golden syrup and 100ml (3 ½ fl oz) of cold water. Bring to a rapid boil and using a sugar thermometer bring it to 115°C. Remove from the heat and slowly pour in a steady stream into the egg whites, whisking all the time. Whisk for a further five minutes until thick and shiny.
Spoon large dollops of the meringue icing over the cake and use the back of a spoon to create swirls and peaks. Save a little icing to cover the biscuits.
Turn the biscuits over, place a cake pop stick half way down the centre then spoon over 1/3 of the melted chocolate. Leave to set. Meanwhile, add a little green food colouring to the icing. Turn the cookies over and spread one with a little icing. Add more colouring to darken the icing and ice another cookie. Do this once more so you have three different shades of green. Decorate with the green Sugar Sand, Snowflakes and Silver Crispies. Insert the trees into the top of the cake at different heights and serve.
See more Christmas dessert recipes