Alan Dunn’s Christmas Cakes

New Holland Publishers, £14.99

As much a guide to sugared horticulture as cake decorating, the latest book from Alan Dunn builds on his expertise on the floral side of sugarcraft.

This time the wintry theme offers a few seasonal ideas to add value to Christmas cakes. And if you’re after something other than holly and ivy although these are also featured why not decorate with Christmas roses, which were historically believed to be a cure for madness? Not a bad USP to counteract the heightened tensions of the Christmas period.

In Christmas Cakes, Dunn shows how to colour and assemble these in simple steps. Well, ’simple’ assumes you have all the essential tools and materials needed for the job, all of which are set out and explained, from glaze sprays to liquid and paste colours and petal dusts.

There are useful tips along the way, such as taming fiddly and fly-away edible silver or gold leaf, creating moulds using leaves and whether to use egg whites or non-edible glues to stick flowers together (the latter tends to dissolve the sugar slightly, leading to weaker petals).

The techniques described would no doubt take practice to master, but will result in stunning-looking cakes to wow customers.