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Welcome to Kitchen Queries, where the nigella.com team will answer your cooking or food related questions.  We’d love you to submit some of your recipe problems, dilemmas or queries for us to get our teeth into!

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  • Christmas cake icing

    When should I ice my christmas cake? I baked it three weeks ago and will be using marzipan and white "snowy" icing. Does the marzipan need time to dry on the cake before I put the white icing on? Thanks from bernie

    From the nigella team:

    You can ice your cake a couple of weeks in advance if using the soft ready rolled icing (rolled fondant icing) and we would suggest up to 1 week in advance if using royal icing (as it tends to get harder over time so don't leave it too long on the cake). To get a smooth surface for icing then first fill any small holes in the cake top and sides with little pieces of marzipan (you may also like to turn the cake over to use the smooth base as a flat surface. Brush the surface of the cake with a little warmed and sieved (strained) apricot jam then lay over the sheet of marzipan then smooth the top and then down the sides of the cake, trimming away any excess.

    It is best to leave the marzipan layer to dry for 24-48 hours on the cake before adding any icing as otherwise the oils from the almonds in the marzipan do have a tendency to seep through into the icing. This doesn't affect the taste of the cake and it is safe to eat, but it can tend to lave yellowish marks on the bright white icing on the cake. If using the rolled icing then brush the surface of the marzipan with a little boiled water before adding the sheet of icing, to help the icing to stick in place.

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