Royal Wedding Cakemaker Fiona Cairns' Christmas Baking Cheats

If there is anybody we'd turn to for advice on how to make a fruit cake - especially during Christmas time - it would have to be the woman who made the masterpiece for the Royal Wedding as well as the Christening cake for Prince George.

Expert, Fiona Cairns shared eight tips with us on how to prepare, cut and decorate festive baked goods, even if you aren't a Bake Off genius.

1. Bake ahead and prepare ahead - it cuts the stress! If you haven't done so for this year, take notes for 2014. You can bake your fruit cake, make your Christmas pudding and mincemeat weeks ahead. In fact - the earlier ahead you prepare, the better it tastes.

2. Allow your Christmas cake to mature, and add a tablespoon or two of brandy before storing away, to allow flavours to mature and for extra succulence and booziness!

3. Cutting your Christmas cake - so many people associate Christmas cakes with a pile of dry crumbs. If you douse your Christmas cake well (as above), the cake will be moist and less crumbly. But the cake must be cut with a sharp, serrated knife, cutting with a gentle sawing action.

4. Think about decoration. If you are not an experienced cake decorator you can buy a fabulous ribbon and decorate the top of the cake with a few deep red roses. The simplest designs are often the most effective.

5. Remember who you’re baking for! it’s not always about Christmas fruit cake, you can bake shortbread, gingerbread and lighter chocolate sponges (such as a Christmas roulade) for guests with all tastes.

6. Preheat your oven before you start. Turning on the oven at the last minute is a classic mistake. Uncooked cake batter doesn’t like to hang around, so make sure everything is ready to go.

7. Bake for friends and family. You don’t have to buy extravagant gifts to make a memorable Christmas. Little bags of biscuits, miniature decorated cakes and jars of jam make wonderful gifts.

8. Don’t forget your freezer! Shortbread and gingerbread dough freezes really well - make the dough as instructed, roll out and cut out the shapes and freeze them in readiness for the festive period. They need about an hour to defrost before baking them as normal. Your house will be filled with the most wonderful aromas.