For me, a wedding cake is the most important cake a person can be asked to bake. This is one of those days that the bride and groom (ok, mainly the bride) will look back upon with fondness and romantic thoughts and also remember the little niggles that just weren’t quite what she had in mind when she was planning like crazy for the months before hand.
Recently I had the pleasure and the pressure of making a wedding cake for a friend. In fairness to her, her brief was simple: enough fruit cake to feed approximately 100 guests. She wanted simple white fondant icing, decorated with ribbon. This sounded too easy! How could a wedding cake be so simple and straight forward?? Well the truth is that it cant be. No matter how easy it sounds, it is still someone’s wedding cake, a center piece at a wedding reception that all the guests will see. So no pressure!!!
Once the request for fruit cake was made, there was only one choice, my mammy’s recipe from her sacred book she has promised to leave me in her will!! This recipe has been tried and tested for Christmas cakes for as far back as I can remember so it was a recipe I trusted. The only proviso was, I had never made it! Only eaten it!
Anyway here is the recipe (based on the number of guests I went with 2 tiers, 8in and 10in)
Currants 10oz 1lb
Sultanas 7oz 11oz
Raisins 4oz 6oz
Glace Cherries 2.5oz 4oz
Almonds (chopped) 2.5oz 4oz
Mixed cut peel 2.5oz 4oz
Grated lemon rind 1 2
Brandy (optional) 2tbsp 3tbsp
Plain flour 7oz 11oz
Mixed spice 1tsp 1.5tsp
Nutmeg 0.5tsp 0.75tsp
Ground almonds 2oz 3oz
Margarine (melted) 6oz 10oz
Soft brown sugar 6oz 10oz
Black treacle 1tbsp 1.5tbsp
Eggs (large) 4 6
Despite the seemingly never ending list of ingredients, the process is fairly simple: Put all the ingredients into a large mixing bowl and mix for 2-4 minutes until all the ingredients are fully combined. It is easier to combine all the dry ingredients first before adding the wet so as to ensure that the ingredients are evenly distributed through-out the cake.
Place the mixture into a greaseproof lined baking tin which also has two layer of brown paper on the outside of the tin. I may write an entire post on how tricky this can be to the untrained person
Place the lined and covered baking tin on a newspaper in a cool oven at approx 130oC for 2.5 to 3 hours. The time taken is oven dependent as usual.
The cakes were made a number of weeks in advance and wrapped in 2 layers of parchment and then 2 layers of foil to ensure they matured but stayed fresh.
Now I am not a marzipan fan, to be honest I really don’t like the stuff but I have to admit that homemade marzipan is actually edible.
Again, it is one of those things you assume to be ridiculously difficult to make but in actual fact is simple:
8oz Ground almonds
4oz Icing sugar
4oz Caster sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
2 drops almond essence
1 egg (beaten)
1. Mix almonds, icing sugar and castor sugar
2. Add lemon juice, almond essence and enough beaten egg to mae a fairly dry paste.
3. Turn out and kneed until smooth.
All you need to do then is coat the cake with apricot jam and cover in the rolled out marzipan at the desired thickness. Simple!
The request was for a simple white cake so there was no room for error with the icing. I considered homemade fondant but in the end I settled on pre-made ready to roll to ensure it was as white as possible. Again this was rolled out the desired thickness and placed on top of the marzipan layer covering the cake board also to give a seamless finish.
A colourful ribbon of the brides choosing was placed on the cake to complete the look.