This delightful two-tier cake is a delicious Christmas dessert. It makes a handsome centrepiece to your Christmas dinner or party.
Heat the oven to gas 3, 150°C, fan 130°C. Grease a 20cm (8in) tin and a 15cm (6in) tin with butter, then dust lightly with flour.
Beat together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Sift in the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Fold through until just combined, then fold through the ground almonds and the vanilla and almond extracts. Pour the mixture into the prepared tins and bake the larger cake for 1 hour 10 minutes and the smaller cake for 60-65 minutes, or until they are golden brown and spring back when pressed in the centre. If they look like they are colouring too quickly, cover with foil.
Leave to cool in the tins for 15 minutes, then release the edges of the cake with a knife and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Lightly dust the work surface with icing sugar, then roll out the marzipan until it is the thickness of a £1 coin and large enough to cover the bigger cake – approx 30cm (12in) in diameter. Then roll out another piece of marzipan, large enough to cover the smaller cake – approx 25cm (10in) in diameter.
Brush each cake with raspberry jam and gently cover with the marzipan. Use your palms to smooth over the edges of the cake, and trim any excess with a sharp knife.
Following the same process, roll out the fondant icing. Brush the marzipan layer lightly with water, then cover the cakes with the fondant icing, again using your palms to smooth it and trimming any excess with a knife. Carefully place the small cake on top of the larger one.
Pour the royal icing sugar into a large bowl and add 20ml cold water. Beat with an electric whisk, adding a little red food colouring until you achieve the desired colour. Add a few drops of water if the icing becomes too thick. Whisk for about 5 minutes until stiff, then spoon into a piping bag fitted with a small nozzle.
Using a pin, map out the outlines of your chosen designs – hearts, stars, cross-stitches and reindeer patterns. Then pipe over with small dots. Place a red ribbon around the base of each cake to finish. Leave to set for approximately 15 minutes before serving.
See more Christmas desserts recipes