A traditional English cake is a very dense fruitcake covered in a thick layer of marzipan (up to one inch thick) and then either covered in royal icing, or the more modern twist is to cover it in fondant. It sounds strange, even gross, but this is tradition folks! It isn't served in big slices like we Americans are accustomed to, rather in small 1-inch x 1-inch by cake-depth squares, really a small sampling, and appropriate considering how rich it would be.
To make the cake I made a fruitcake (recipe provided by my chef instructor) which had 10.5 pounds (that is not a type-o!) of fruit and nuts! It was crazy making this much cake all at once. I had to multiply the recipe in order to make a three tiered cake with a 10"x3" layer an 8"x3" layer and two 6"x1.5" layers (because there wasn't a 3" high pan) and there was and extra 6” to sample!
Baking the cakes and took 4 HOURS!!!! Can you believe that? I even had to stay an hour after class to wait for the cake to finish baking! The baking time was largely due to the density of the cake and 2-3 hours is normal for the recipe, but because it was so large it took an hour longer.
The marzipan aged overnight, which made it firmer and easier to work with. I then draped each tier in white fondant, rolled about 1/3" thick. This was the first time I have worked with fondant, and it was very difficult. It shows every little finger mark/dent and when it tears it has to be rolled out all over again. However, by the following day it had hardened significantly enough that it was much easier to work with.
I made gumpaste in order to make the flowers (another method to make decorative flowers and traditional for wedding cakes), which I colored light peach. I was in a time crunch at this point and had to make the flowers just prior to needing to place them on the cake. I found out the hard way that really they should be made ahead of time so that they will harden and be much easier to work with. The swags and pearl border I piped on the cake with ivory colored royal icing.
I was very happy with the results, especially with the time given, about 12 hours of actual working time. We are scheduled to review our cakes after the Holiday Break and they are awaiting us wrapped and in the walk-in freezers at school. When we return we will be able to cut into the cakes and see what it is like to destroy our beautiful pieces of artwork!!! I will post pictures when that happens!