. Cut the top of the cake quite level, grate off any burnt or very dark parts, and brush off all loose crumbs.

2. Reverse the cake, so that what was the bottom is on top, for it will be a better shape than you can cut it.

3. Place the cake on a plate, or, better still, a movable cake-stand.

4. Divide the almond paste into three, roll out a third in a round to fit the top of the cake, using sieved icing sugar to prevent it sticking to the rolling-pin and board. The two remaining pieces roll in strips to cover the sides. Lay the paste on the cake, and smooth it evenly on with a knife.

5. Let the almond paste dry overnight, or, if time will not allow this, dry it in a very slow oven.

6. Put a thin layer of royal icing over the almond icing, smooth it evenly over with a broad-bladed knife dipped in hot water. Let this layer dry before spreading over a second one, which should be about a quarter of an inch thick (more or less to suit individual taste).

7. Be very careful when putting on both the almond paste and royal icing to keep the sides straight and the edges sharp; these points make or mar the cake.

A. Ullyett

A. Ullyett

Holly and Mistletoe Cake. The decoration is made of coloured almond paste

8. When the second coat of royal icing is dry, pour over the boiled icing; this gives the cake a very fine finish, but need not be used if it takes too much time and labour.

9. Decorate the cake with royal icing in any pretty design. Mark the design out faintly with a pencil, or by pressing fancy cutters lightly on the icing, or by merely pricking round a pattern with a pin.