Thursday, January 04, 2007

A Traditional English Wedding Cake

This is my very first wedding cake, and it was so exciting to make. We were given the freedom to choose any type of cake, flavoring and style that we wanted for our wedding cake. I decided to make a traditional English wedding cake in order to become familiar with a classic style--I can always play around with variations, but knowing the classics is a good base to stand on.

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 following day, after baking the cakes, I soaked them with brandy (traditionally this done for three months prior to the wedding) and then coated each tier with a layer of marzipan, which was closer to 1/3" than the traditional 1-inch.

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!

20 comments:

Anonymous said...

I feel like I should schedule another wedding so you can bake me one of those cakes. It is fabulous!!! Please send samples.

Your talent is really amazing. You have mastered the artistry of making beautiful cakes in such a short time! It must be really rewarding to see your creations, but tough to think about them being cut up and destroyed.

I look forward to your next creation.

Mom

Marcella said...

Keep up the good work.

Chris said...

Being English and having had a traditional wedding cake I think you've done an amazing job - well done. Hope you enjoy eating it as much as we did ours. P.S. Traditional English Christmas cakes are made with the same receipe so you could add some snowmen and cut out some holly fondant and voila, another string to your bow.

Anonymous said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Hi I like your cakes. I don't have a 3' pan do you think I can use the 2 inch one. What did you use for a filling to join the 6 inch cake?
Coul you please share your cake recipe for this cake?
Thanx

G

Domanique Alicia said...

Wow, this is gorgeous.

I know you did it in class, but can you post a link to a recipe?

Also, have you guys talked about gluten-free baking?

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Getty said...

I've always looked for someone in USA who could make such a cake.My cousin is having a wedding in 3 weeks. Please can you make me one

Kanga59 said...

I have just been looking at your wedding cake recipe.
I am in the process of making three cakes for our son's wedding in May.
Yes, I did say May.
I will feed them each with a spoonful of brandy every ten days until 4 weeks before the wedding. Then I will put the marzipan on and let that harden off - finally the icing.
I will be using the old family recipe, but was interested in your recipe.
Hope you continue to enjoy making wedding cakes.
Kange (in Central France)
The idea of the third cake (little) is for the christening of the first child. Hence the reason for the brandy, to preserve.

Kanga59 said...

I have just been looking at your wedding cake recipe.
I am in the process of making three cakes for our son's wedding in May.
Yes, I did say May.
I will feed them each with a spoonful of brandy every ten days until 4 weeks before the wedding. Then I will put the marzipan on and let that harden off - finally the icing.
I will be using the old family recipe, but was interested in your recipe.
Hope you continue to enjoy making wedding cakes.
Kange (in Central France)
The idea of the third cake (little) is for the christening of the first child. Hence the reason for the brandy, to preserve.

Kanga59 said...

I have just been looking at your wedding cake recipe.
I am in the process of making three cakes for our son's wedding in May.
Yes, I did say May.
I will feed them each with a spoonful of brandy every ten days until 4 weeks before the wedding. Then I will put the marzipan on and let that harden off - finally the icing.
I will be using the old family recipe, but was interested in your recipe.
Hope you continue to enjoy making wedding cakes.
Kange (in Central France)
The idea of the third cake (little) is for the christening of the first child. Hence the reason for the brandy, to preserve.

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