Decorating a Christmas cake can seem daunting, especially if you’re not the arty type. This is the easiest way to decorate your Christmas cake so it looks simple and elegant. No art skills required, and it can be done in 20 minutes.

Tall side-on image showing a simple decorated Christmas cake - with a green ribbon surrounding the cake, white fondant snow flakes and mini Christmas trees on top. The cake is on a wooden cake stand on a kitchen surface with glowy lights and a bowl of fruit in the background.

I’ve made some ugly looking Christmas cakes in my time.

My sister was the one who inherited the cake decorating gene (she used to be a wedding cake maker).

After several attempts at trying to make show-stopping artsy Christmas cakes, I realised it was giving me anxiety and taking such a long time. Hand-colouring icing, crafting cute little figures, coming up with designs in the first place!

Nobody needs that, especially over the Christmas period.

So now I do either one of these two things:

  1. Make this simple decorated cake. A bit of ribbon, a few cut-out snowflakes and a few miniature trees from the art shop – and voila! A simple, elegant looking cakes that’s decorated in no time!
  2. My other option is to let the kids decorate the cake. Plonk a load of coloured icing, sprinkles, cookie cutters etc, and let them do their worst. They have the best time, and they come up with some hilarious themes. We’ve had:
    • The Grinch, stealing all the Christmas presents
    • Baby Yoda’s Christmas dinner table
    • John McClane crawling through the air conditioning duct (from Die Hard)

Or do both. Two Christmas cakes can only be a good thing!

📋 Ingredients/Equipment

A fruitcake laying on baking parchment on a wooden table. The cake is surrounded by equipment and ingredients to decorate the cake as a Christmas cake. This includes rolls of marzipan, fondant icing, rolls of green ribbon, Apricot jam, snowflake fondant cutters and mini Christmas trees.

👩‍🍳PRO TIP Buy ready-rolled marzipan and icing. It saves SO MUCH time!

📷 The process in pictures

Full recipe with detailed steps in the recipe card at the end of this post.

First coat your fruit cake in slightly warmed, smooth apricot jam. This is your ‘glue’.

A fruitcake on a wooden cake stand, on a wooden table. The cake is being brushed with Apricot jam.
  1. Unroll the marzipan
  2. Place the marzipan on the cake
  3. Flatten it out and cut off the excess
  4. Unroll the fondant icing and cover the cake in the same way you did the marzipan.
4 image college showing how to add marzipan and icing layers to a Christmas cake.

Secure a length of satin ribbon around the cake using a little piece of tape.

A fondant covered Christmas cake with a green ribbon on a wooden cake stand, on a wooden table. There is a roll or ribbon and a piece of ribbon next to the cake stand.
  1. Unroll a second roll of fondant icing, dust with confectioners’ sugar and cut out snowflake shapes using a cutter.
  2. Stick the snowflakes to the cake, securing with a little blob of apricot jam.
A two image collage. The top image shows snowflakes being cut from fondant icing with a snowflake cutter. The bottom image shows these snowflakes arranged on an iced Christmas cake. The cake has a green ribbon around it and is sitting on a wooden cake stand.

Add miniature Christmas trees to the top – and you’re done!

A close-up image of a simple decorated Christmas cake - with a green ribbon surrounding the cake, white fondant snow flakes and mini Christmas trees on top. The cake is on a wooden cake stand on a kitchen surface with glowy lights and a bowl of fruit in the background.

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5 from 1 vote

Simple Christmas Cake Decoration

The easiest way to decorate your Christmas cake so it looks simple and elegant. No art skills required!
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: British

Equipment

Ingredients

  • 1 x 20cm (8 inch) Christmas fruit cake
  • 4 tbsp smooth apricot jam * see note 1, (jelly in USA)
  • 1 roll golden marzipan (use white/natural marzipan if you don't like golden) * see note 2
  • 2 rolls white fondant icing
  • 2 tbsp confectioners' sugar sifted

Instructions 

  • Place the cake on a cake stand or plate (whatever you will be serving it on).
    1 x 20cm (8 inch) Christmas fruit cake
  • Place the apricot jam in a small bowl and heat in the microwave for 15-30 seconds, until it loosens up (or heat in a saucepan for 30-60 seconds). Then stir so it's an even consistency throughout.
    4 tbsp smooth apricot jam
  • Brush the apricot jam all over the top and sizes of the cake, using a pastry brush. Try not to get any on the cake stand or plate.
  • Unroll the marzipan and place it on top of the cake. Smooth the marzipan down all over.
    I like to place the marzipan wrapper (this is usually a sheet or plastic or greaseproof paper) on the cake then smooth it down with my fingers, and then peel the wrapper back off. This stops you getting sticky fingers.
    1 roll golden marzipan
  • If you find any lumps or folds of marzipan around the sides of the cake, simply squash them flat.
  • To ensure a neat edge to the marzipan, use the rounded handle-end of a table knife to push the marzipan in at the area where the bottom of the cake meets the cake stand. Once it's pushed in, use the knife to cut off the excess marzipan.
  • Unroll one of the rolls of fondant icing and place on the cake. Smooth it down and cut off the excess in the same way you did the marzipan.
    2 rolls white fondant icing
  • Now to decorate the cake. First wrap a single layer of green ribbon around the cake. I use 20mm (3/4 inch) wide, dark green satin ribbon. Cut the ribbon so it's 1-2 cm longer then the diameter of the cake. secure the ribbon in place using a little piece of tape.
  • Unroll the second roll of fondant icing. Sprinkle the icing with a fine dusting of confectioners' sugar.
    2 tbsp confectioners' sugar
  • Use snowflake cutters to cut out little snowflake shapes. I use 3 different sizes and cut out about 8-10 snowflakes altogether.
  • Arrange the snowflakes on one side of the cake using a tiny blob of apricot jam to secure each snowflake to the cake.
  • Arrange miniature Christmas trees on the other side of the cake. I like to use 3 different sizes. Again, you can secure the Christmas trees using a little blob of apricot jam.
  • The cake is ready to be presented and served.
  • Remove the ribbon and trees before serving.

Notes

Note 1 Apricot Jam
It’s important to use smooth jam (jelly) with no bits in to ensure no lumps show through the marzipan/icing layer.
You can swap out the apriocot jam for smooth plum jam (jelly in USA) or smooth marmalade if you like a bit of tangyness.
Note 2 – Marzipan
One roll of marzipan is enough to cover the cake, but if you like a THICK layer of marzipan, you can use two rolls.
Add the first layer of marzipan, smooth it out and cut off the excess, then repeat with a second roll/layer of marzipan. There’s no need to add any more apricot jam between the layers, they should stick together just fine.
I usually do a double layer as my husband, Chris, LOVES marzipan.
Don’t you need to let the marzipan dry before topping with icing?
Traditional Christmas cakes, using homemade marzipan and royal icing require the marzipan layer to dry out a little before decorating with icing. This is because the oils from the marzipan can seep through royal icing.
However, if you’re using ready-rolled, store-bought marzipan and fondant icing, there’s no need to dry the marzipan before adding the fondant icing.
Can I marzipan and ice the cake right after feeding it?
If you’ve made your Christmas cake a few weeks in advance and have been ‘feeding’ it with liquor, it’s a good idea to wait 2 days after the last feeding before you marzipan and ice it. This is to ensure the liquor has soaked into the cake fully and won’t seep through the marzipan.
Storing
A Christmas cake decorated with marzipan and fondant icing should last 3-4 weeks if you wrap it well. Wrapping it will prevent the icing from hardening.
I recommend wrapping in a layer of baking parchment (remove the miniature Christmas trees first – they can go back on when you serve it), followed by a layer of foil. Then store in a cake tin or air-tight container, in a cool room (the fridge is too cold).
 
 

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Made this cake for Christmas dinner, and it turned out great! I had a little trouble assembling the ingredients here in the United States, but I learned to make the spice mix and the marzipan (also easy to do), and everyone was impressed! Can’t figure out how to add a photo, but suffice it to say it was a beautiful cake!! I used Grand Marnier instead of cherry brandy. 😋

  2. I made this a few weeks back and have been feeding it with Cherry 🍒 brandy as stated! This is my first ever attempt at making a Christmas cake and so far I’m really impressed. Nice simple, easy recipe which I had really not intended to decorate but decided to give it a go, keeping it simple and it’s really looking pretty good 😊 The proof will be in the eating!!!