Take a small chunk of fruitcake in your hand (approx 80-90g per ball) and compact this by squeezing together and roll between your palms to achieve a ball shape (as if you were making meatballs!)
Place these in a fridge to firm up for 30 minutes.
Boil a little apricot jam and brush over the balls to make them sticky.
Roll out some marzipan to a thickness of no more than 5mm. Cut into pieces large enough to completely cover the cake balls. Lay a marzipan piece over the top of each balls and press around the sides. Pick up a ball and pinch underneath the base to gather up the excess marzipan. Trim this off. Roll the ball in your palms until smooth. Repeat with the rest of the balls and then leave to dry overnight.
When ready to cover in icing, brush the balls with a little brandy, vodka or cooled boiled water. Repeat all of step 4 using sugarpaste. If you see a little mark or crack where you have trimmed off the excess icing, make sure this is on the underside so it won’t show. Leave to dry ideally overnight before commencing any decorating.
Roll approximately 10g of brown sugarpaste into a small ball. Cut in half and make two cone shapes. Flatten them into cute, chubby ‘wings’ for the sides of the robin. With the paintbrush, dampen the sides of one cake ball with vodka or cooled boiled water, roughly where you want to adhere the wings, just above halfway up. Press the wings onto the sides of the robin’s body. Repeat for the rest of the robin cakes.
To add detail to the wings, use a shell tool to mark out some feathery lines at an angle, so that it looks like they are pointing back and down towards the tail. If you don’t have a shell tool, use a cocktail stick or knife to mark a few lines.
With a small rolling pin, roll out a small piece of red sugarpaste on a worktop dusted with icing sugar until 1-2mm thick. Cut out little circles with a round cutter, or use a knife if you don’t have one – these will be the robins’ redbreasts. Using vodka or cooled boiled water, stick the red circles in between the two wings on the lower part of the body.
Take five tiny pea-sized pieces of yellow sugarpaste. Roll into balls, then pinch one end into a slight point to make mini cone shapes. Using vodka or cooled boiled water, stick these onto the middle of the upper part of each cake ball, to make the ‘beaks’. Cut carefully into each beak with a sharp knife and wiggle the knife slightly to ‘open’ the beaks, so that the robins appear to be merrily chirping.
Pipe ‘eyes’ onto the robins, using a small dot of white royal icing for each eye. Pat down with a damp paintbrush to flatten slightly. Leave to dry overnight.
Once dry, finish off with a small dot of black royal icing in the middle of each eye. Make sure to do this the following day, to prevent the black icing from bleeding into the white.
Recipe courtesy of Juliet Sear's cookbook, The Cake Decorating Bible, available from Fancy Nancy.