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Holly garland

The colours and modelling on this cake are traditional and it is a very rewarding cake for beginners. The candy canes and parcels are easy to make but effective and the garland of holly around the cake is simply attached to a sugarpaste base.


Murdoch Recipe Article Lead - narrow
  • 25 cm (10 inch) petal-shaped fruit cake (use mixture for 25 cm round cake)
  • 1.25 kg (2½ lb) marzipan
  • 2 kg (4 lb) sugarpaste
  • red, dark-green and blue food colourings
  • 2 tablespoons royal icing
  • silver dusting powder


  • 33 cm (13 inch) petal-shaped silver cake board
  • large and small holly cutters
  • fine paintbrush
  • fine cord


Cover the cake with marzipan, pressing it into the flutes of the petal shape, and leave to dry. Cover the cake with 1.3 kg (2¾ lb) of the sugarpaste and leave to dry for three days.

From the remaining sugarpaste, colour 185 g (6 oz) red, 250 g (8 oz) green and 60 g (2 oz) blue, leaving the remainder white. Secure the cake to the board with a little royal icing. Use the red sugarpaste to cover the cake board, trimming off the excess and reserving the trimmings.

Holly and candy canes

Thinly roll a little green sugarpaste and cut out eight large holly leaves. Mark the central veins with a knife, then lay them over crumpled foil to set in curved positions. To make the candy canes, very thinly roll a little white sugarpaste under the palms of your hands. Thinly roll a little red sugarpaste to the same thickness. Twist the rolls together, then roll them together. Cut into 3 cm (1¼ inch) lengths and bend over the tops. You will need 12 altogether. Make four or five thicker longer canes in the same way for the top of the cake.

Making the parcels

From the blue icing, shape 12 small squares, about 5 mm (¼ inch) in diameter and four larger squares, about 2 cm (¾ inch) in diameter. Very thinly roll out the red icing trimmings and use to shape ribbons for the larger parcels. From the remaining white icing, roll 48 tiny balls of icing and 10 larger balls, about 1 cm (½ inch) in diameter. Leave all the decorations to dry for 24 hours.

Making the garland

Roll out some green icing under the palms of your hands to make a 1 cm (½ inch) thick sausage. Cut a section of the icing and secure around one petal of the cake, so that the end comes 1 cm (½ inch) from the top edge of the cake and the lowest part comes about 2 cm (¾ inch) from the base. Secure with a dampened paintbrush. Repeat around all the cake.

Thinly roll out more green icing and cut out holly leaves with the small cutter. Mark the central veins with a knife. Dampen the underside of the leaves, then secure them to the green ropes around the sides of the cake to make a garland.

Finishing touches

Lightly brush the small and large balls with silver dusting powder. Secure the small baubles, candy canes and parcels to the garland around the sides of the cake with dots of royal icing.

Use the larger decorations to make an attractive arrangement on the top of the cake, first securing the leaves and parcels with dots of royal icing, propping them up on small balls of foil until dried in position. Then arrange the candy canes and baubles. Arrange the cord around the base of the cake, securing with a little royal icing.



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