This simple, yet beautiful wedding cake is perfect if you don’t have much experience making wedding cakes. I’ve given excessive quantities of marzipan and fondant icing, as it’s best to start with more than you need, especially for beginners.
Equipment and preparation: For this cake you’ll need an 18cm round tin, 25cm round tin and respective thin cake boards and a cake smoother. To assemble the cakes, you’ll need a 30cm/12in cake drum, 4 dowelling rods, a 12cm/4½in thin cake board and a 12cm/4½in polystyrene cake spacer. All of these are available from specialist cake shops.
40g/1½oz golden syrup
40g/1½oz black treacle
125g/4½oz dark brown sugar
1200ml/3½fl oz double cream
1 tbsp mixed spice
125g/4½oz unsalted butter
½ tsp orange extract
½ tsp lemon extract
3 medium free-range eggs
175g/6oz chopped pitted prunes
175g/6oz glacé cherries or more dried fruit
250g/9oz strong white bread flour
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
brandy, whisky or orange juice, to finish
80g/2¾oz golden syrup
80g/2¾oz black treacle
250g/9oz dark brown sugar
200ml/7fl oz double cream
15g/½oz (about 2 tbsp) mixed spice
250g/9oz unsalted butter
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp lemon extract
6 medium free-range eggs
350g/12oz chopped pitted prunes
350g/12oz glacé cherries or more dried fruit
500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
brandy, whisky or orange juice, to finish
Preheat the oven to 170C/335F/Gas 3 and line a 18cm/7in round cake tin and a 25cm/10in round cake tin with non-stick paper.
For the 18cm/7in cake, place the syrup, treacle, honey, sugar, cream and spices in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour the mixture into a large mixing bowl, add the butter in pieces and stir until melted, then add the orange and lemon extracts.
Beat in the eggs until smooth, then stir in the fruit. Mix the flour and soda together, then stir this through evenly. Spoon the mixture into the tin and bake for about 1½-2 hours, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean. Leave to cool in the tin, then carefully remove from the tin.
For the 25cm/10in cake, repeat steps 2 and 3 and bake the cake for 2-2½ hours.
When the cakes are cold, spoon the top liberally with brandy, whisky or boiled orange juice, wrap well and leave for 3-4 days before icing.
To cover the cakes in marzipan, thin the apricot jam with a little water so it’s the consistency of double cream and bring this to the boil. Pour the hot jam through a sieve into a bowl, pressing any fruit pieces through to extract the liquid, then leave until warm before using.
If the cakes have peaked in the middle during baking you will want to carefully slice it flat. But if the cake is just gently domed then there’s no need.
For the 18cm/7in cake, knead about half of the marzipan until smooth, then roll it out on a worktop dusted with icing sugar. Roll the marzipan into a disc about 1cm/½in thick and 1-2cm/½-1in wider than the diameter of your cake (check the marzipan isn’t sticking to the worktop by dusting underneath it again with icing sugar).
Brush the top of the cake with the sieved jam then leave a few minutes for it to set. Turn the cake upside down onto the marzipan, place the 18cm/7in cake board onto the bottom and wiggle the cake gently so the top is stuck firmly to the marzipan.
Trim any excess marzipan leaving a 2cm/1in border. Using a knife, gently press up into the gap caused by the curve of the cake, then scrape it up smoothly so it is level with the side of the cake. Carefully turn the cake the right way up and you should be left with a perfectly flat top surface and straight sides.
Knead the marzipan trimmings until smooth, then roll out into a long strip that’s wide enough to cover the sides of the cake. (I roll two or three strips, each a half or a third of the circumference, as this is easier to manage. ) Cut one side of the strip so it has a straight edge. Brush the strip with apricot jam and stick into onto the cake, straight edge at the bottom. Carefully smooth it around the cake, trim off any excess along the top edge and repeat with the next strip until all of the cake is covered. Smooth the edges with a cake smoother and dry in a cool, dark place for 4-5 days.
For the 25cm/10in cake, repeat steps 8-11 using the remaining marzipan.
To cover the 18m/7in cake in fondant icing, brush the surface of the marzipan-covered cake evenly and lightly with water.
Next, lightly knead about half of the icing until it’s soft, then roll it out onto a worktop dusted with icing sugar. Roll the icing into a disc large enough to cover the top and drape over the sides of the cake, with some excess to trim. Aim for the icing to be just under 1cm/½in thick, as it’s liable to tear if rolled thinner.
Roll the icing carefully onto the rolling pin then unroll it onto the cake so it drapes down the sides evenly. Using the cake smoother, press it evenly across the top of the cake to push out any air bubbles then run it carefully down and around the side of the cake to seal it. If you have any air bubbles prick them with a pin to remove the air and use the smoother to press the area flat. Leave to set for 2-3 days before decorating.
To cover the 25cm/10in cake in fondant icing, repeat steps 13-15.
To assemble the cake, wrap the outside of the cakes with ribbon, if using. Place the 25cm/10in cake onto the 30cm/12in cake drum. Place the 12cm/4½in cake board into the middle of the 25cm/10in cake and mark four points around the edge in a square. Push a dowelling rod into the cake and mark where it reaches the top of the cake. Cut the rod and three others to the same length and insert them into the cake at the four points.
Place the 12cm/4½in cake board onto the top of the dowelling rods and top with the 12cm/4½in polystyrene cake spacer. Place the 18cm/7in cake on top. Decorate with fresh or fondant flowers.