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Bird cage cake

This Christmas I made a birdcage decorated cake to sit on my Winter Wonderland dessert table. To get the birdcage shape I needed, I baked two 15cm (6") round cakes and half a 15cm (6") ball cake. Below you will find my recipe for a rich fruit cake that is gluten free.

Fruit cakes are ideally made at least a month before you need to decorate and eat it. They should be fed regularly and left to ripen. I feed mine every week.

To see the photograph to go with each decorating step for my birdcage cake , just click the camera icon

Please note the recipe is for one 15cm round cake. You will need to make two round 15cm cakes and one half a ball cake. I used the same mixture for the round ball cake, which I made first so I could put the excess batter in the round tins.

Gluten Free

1 15 cm Cake

Method

Birdcage gluten free fruit cake

  1. Place all dried fruit and mixed peel in a bowl, pour in sherry and mix well. Cover with a clean cloth. Leave for 12 hours or overnight so fruit can absorb the sherry

  2. Preheat oven to 150 deg C (300 deg F)

  3. Grease and line tin with baking parchment

  4. Wrap newspaper/brown paper around tin and secure with baker's twine

  5. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture turns a pale colour

  6. Beat in eggs slowly on medium speed

  7. Sieve flour, salt and spices into the mixture and mix slowly on low speed

  8. Fold in soaked fruit, almonds, lemon & orange zest until well mixed

  9. Pour mixture into tin, level with spatula

  10. Place sheet of grease proof paper on top, and make sure to leave a small circle missing from centre

  11. Bake for 3 hours and 15 minutes on middle shelf

  12. Place cake on a wire rack to cool

  13. When cake is completely cool, remove cake from tin

  14. Pierce cake several times with skewer

  15. Pour 3 tsp of brandy over the top of the cake (feeding)

  16. Wrap in baking parchment

  17. Wrap in foil or store in an airtight container

  18. Feed at regular intervals over the next few weeks

To decorate

  1. Lightly sieve icing sugar on to your work top Knead 500g of marzipan until soft and pliable, and roll into a ball Using a rolling pin, roll out marzipan, turning the marzipan around after every few rolls so it stays in a rough circle and does not stick to your work top Roll until about 5mm thick. I used rolling pin measures to get a super even layer of marzipan

  2. Place half ball cake onto cake board Get cake level on board and fill in any gaps by pushing marzipan into them Gently heat jam in microwave Brush jam over entire cake

  3. Carefully lift up marzipan and place on cake Very lightly run your hands over marzipan so it adheres to the jam Using a sharp knife, cut off excess marzipan from bottom of cake Place to one side

  4. Lightly sieve icing sugar on to your work top Knead 500g of marzipan until soft and pliable, and roll into a sausage shape Using a rolling pin, roll out marzipan, turning marzipan around after every few rolls so it stays in a rectangle and does not stick to your work top Check it will fit the height and circumference of your cakes (the height of my two cakes was just about the size of my cake smoother) Roll until about 5mm thick

  5. Place each cake on to a cake board and stack on top of each other Gently heat jam in microwave Brush jam over entire cake Carefully lift up marzipan and place on cake. Very lightly run your hands over marzipan so it adheres to the jam

  6. Using a sharp knife, cut off excess marzipan from top and bottom of cake The ends will overlap, so using a sharp knife cut a straight line down through both layers of marzipan and remove excess marzipan from either side of your line Using a cake smoother, smooth ends together so that join starts to disappear Place marzipan half ball cake on top of marzipan stacked cakes and gently smooth marzipan at bottom of half cake to marzipan at top of the stacked cakes

  7. Lightly sieve icing sugar on to your work top Knead 500g of white icing until soft and pliable Using a tooth pick, add a drop of food colouring Knead icing until the colour is completely even

  8. Roll icing into a round shape Using a rolling pin, roll out icing, turning the icing so it stays in a rough circle and does not stick to your work top Roll until about 5mm thick - I used rolling pin measures to get a super even layer of icing Using a cake smoother, buff the icing until you have a nice, shiny, smooth circle big enough to cover your cake

  9. Position cake onto cake stand or plate Lightly brush cake with cooled, boiled water Carefully lift up icing and place on cake Very lightly run your hands over icing so it adheres to the marzipan Using a sharp knife, cut off excess icing from bottom of cake

  10. To get your bird cage even, start by placing a length of bakers twine over the top of your cake and pin in place, so that you have divided the cake in half Continue pinning bakers twine to your cake until you have segmented the cake into 12 pieces Lightly push the string into the cake so you are left with small indentations and remove string entirely Lightly sieve icing sugar on to your work top and knead white icing until soft and pliable. Then, using a rolling pin, roll into a long shape about 5mm thick, i.e. at least the width of the lace imprint and long enough to go round the cake

  11. Push lace imprint into rolled out icing strip, continue until strip has imprint from end to end. Using a sharp knife, trim sides of strip, lightly brush cooled boiled water onto back of strip and adhere to bottom of cake. Trim off excess at ends Make up royal icing as package instructions Spoon into piping bag fitted with circular nozzle

  12. Starting at the top of the cake, carefully pipe a strip of royal icing down one of the indentations in the cake Continue until you have all of the cage spindles piped Roll out fondant icing as before and cut a small circle out using a round cookie cutter, lightly brush the back of your fondant circle with water and place at top of the cake in the centre Then roll a small ball out of white fondant icing and attach to the top of the cake using a wooden tooth pick

  13. Lightly sieve icing sugar on to your work top and knead white icing until soft and pliable. Then, using a rolling pin, roll into a long shape about 5mm thick, that is at least the width of the lace imprint and long enough to go round the cake Push lace imprint into rolled out icing strip, continue until strip has imprint from end to end Using a sharp knife, trim sides of strip, lightly brush cooled boiled water onto back of strip and adhere to the top straight part of the cake. Trim off excess at ends

  14. Brush edible white glitter on to spindles of cage Continue brushing white edible glitter on to cage Brush aqua cake shimmer onto blue icing Work out the position of your petal paste bird and push bird foot into cake

  15. Pipe a small dab of white royal icing onto the front of your fondant bird, line bird up with its foot and push into the side of the cake Pipe a small dab of royal icing onto the back of the fondant roses and place them at the top and bottom of the cake Pipe a small dab of royal icing onto the back of the holly leaves and place them at the top and bottom of the cake

  16. Pipe a small dab of white royal icing onto the edible pink beads and place next to the holly leaves on the cake Using edible glitters, dust roses with pink glitter and leaves with green glitter Pipe a small dab of white royal icing onto the back of the snowflakes and place on cake Attach iced ring to ball on top of cake and lightly dust entire cake with sieved icing sugar

Ingredients

Birdcage gluten free fruit cake

  • 150g currants

  • 50g sultanas

  • 50g raisins

  • 40g cherries (glace, chopped)

  • 25g cut mixed peel

  • 2 tbsp cream sherry

  • 25g almonds (chopped)

  • 90g gluten free plain flour

  • 0.5 tsp cinnamon

  • 0.5 tsp mixed spice

  • 1 pinch salt

  • 75g butter (unsalted, at room temperature)

  • 75g brown sugar (soft)

  • 2 medium eggs

  • 0.25 lemons (grated zest)

  • 0.25 oranges (grated zest)

  • 3 tbsp brandy

To Decorate

Equipment

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