Classic winter fruitcake

This festive icing is easy to use, looks amazing and makes a lighter end to a meal. The perfect centrepiece for Christmas tea.

Method

  • Lightly beat the egg white in a shallow bowl and spread out the caster sugar on a baking sheet or tray. Dip the grapes and the holly or bay leaves into the egg white, or use a paintbrush. Shake off the excess, then coat in the sugar. Set aside to dry for at least 10 mins, ideally about 30 mins.
  • When you’re ready to decorate, make the frosting. Put a large bowl over a pan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Put the egg whites and icing sugar into the bowl and whisk for 5-7 mins until you have a thick, very glossy frosting. Use a spatula to clean around the edges of the bowl every so often as you whisk. Scoop the frosting onto the top of the cake and spread it around with a flat-edged knife, swirling as you go to create a snowy effect (see Knowhow, below).
  • Halve the clementines, figs and kumquats, then arrange on top of the frosted cake with the physalis, frosted grapes and leaves. Fix a ribbon around the base and leave the cake somewhere cool – but not the fridge – until your guests arrive.
  • TIP… OK, so the fruit probably won’t last more than a day but the point of this cake is that it looks fabulous and is a cinch to put together when time is short. You can also add fresh cranberries, pomegranate seeds or still-intheir skin lychees. If you’re really stuck for time this is also a great way to transform a plain bought fruitcake – but that can be your own little secret!

Ingredients

FOR THE DECORATION

  • 1 egg white
  • 50g caster sugar
  • small bunch black grapes
  • holly or bay leaves
  • 20cm/8 inch round fruitcake
  • 1-2 clementines
  • 1-2 just ripe figs
  • a few kumquat
  • a few physalis (Cape gooseberries)
  • approx 65cm red or gold ribbon

FOR THE FROSTING

  • 2 egg whites
  • 175g icing sugar