Traditional spring wedding cake
Make your own wedding cake with our step-by-step recipe.
Equipment and preparation: For this recipe you will need a 15cm/6in, 23cm/9in and 30cm/12in round cake tin, thin cake boards of respective sizes, and 38cm/15in, 35cm/14in and 23cm/9in thick cake boards. You will also need eight dowelling rods and eight cake pillars and sugar paste flower moulds. All of these are available from specialist cake shops. Plus you will need a 3m/9ft 10in x 1.5cm/⅝in white satin ribbon.
For the sugar flowers
For the 30cm/12in tier
- 550g/1lb 4oz butter
- 225g/8oz soft brown sugar
- 150g/5½oz caster sugar
- 12 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- 475g/1lb 1oz plain flour
- 475g/1lb 1oz ground almonds
- 2 tbsp cocoa powder
- 1 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp mixed spice
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 oranges, zest only
- 2 lemons, zest only
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 475g/1lb 1oz currants
- 450g/1lb glacé cherries
- 350g/12oz sultanas
- 225g/8oz dried cranberries
- 450g/1lb dried apricots, chopped
- 225g/8oz blanched whole almonds, roughly chopped (optional)
- 350ml/12fl oz brandy
For the 23cm/9in tier
- 225g/8oz currants
- 200g/7oz glacé cherries
- 175g/6oz sultanas
- 115g/4oz dried cranberries
- 225g/8oz dried apricots, chopped
- 115g/4oz blanched whole almonds, roughly chopped (optional)
- 175ml/6fl oz brandy
- 250g/9oz butter
- 100g/3½oz soft brown sugar
- 150g/5½oz caster sugar
- 6 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- 225g/8oz plain flour
- 225g/8oz ground almonds
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- ½ tsp mixed spice
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 orange, zest only
- 1 lemon, zest only
- 1 tsp vanilla essence
For the 15cm/6in tier
- 115g/4oz currants
- 100g/3½oz glacé cherries
- 85g/3oz sultanas
- 60g/2oz dried cranberries
- 110g/4oz dried apricots, chopped
- 50g/2oz blanched whole almonds, roughly chopped (optional)
- 85ml/3fl oz brandy
- 125g/4½oz butter
- 50g/2oz soft brown sugar
- 75g/2¾oz caster sugar
- 3 free-range eggs, lightly beaten
- 115g/4oz plain flour
- 115g/4oz ground almonds
- ½ tbsp cocoa powder
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- ¼ tsp mixed spice
- ¼ tsp salt
- ½ orange, zest only
- ½ lemon, zest only
- ½ tsp vanilla essence
To ice the cakes
For the sugar flowers, knead the yellow sugar paste until soft and pliable and roll it out until it is 5mm/¼in thick. Press the sugar paste into the flower moulds, then remove and set aside to dry. Repeat with the white sugar paste. (The flowers can be made up to a month in advance and stored in an airtight container.)
Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2. Grease and line the 15cm/6in, 23cm/9in and 30cm/12in round cake tin.
Place a wide strip of brown paper around the outside of the cake tin and tie with string.
For the 30cm/12in tier, beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. (This takes about five minutes.) Add the eggs, a little at a time, until well combined. Stir in the dry ingredients, spices, zest, dried fruits, nuts (if using) and brandy. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top with a palette knife.
Bake in the oven for four hours 10 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the 23cm/9in tier and bake in the oven for three hours 20 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the 15cm/6in tier and bake in the oven for 1 hour 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
When the cakes are cooked, remove them from the oven and set aside to cool for 15 minutes. Remove them from the tin and set aside to cool completely.
To ice the cakes, warm the apricot jam in a saucepan, then pass it through a sieve.
Level the top of the 15cm/6in fruit cake by cutting the top off with a serrated knife, paint the top with a little apricot jam, then turn it upside down onto the 15cm/6in thin cake board. Using a piece of string, measure the top and sides of the fruit cake (this is so that you roll the marzipan out to the right size). Paint the fruit cake all over with the apricot jam.
Dust a work surface with icing sugar and roll 500g/1lb 2oz of the marzipan out until it is large enough to cover the top and sides of the fruit cake (use the piece of string as a guide). Carefully lift the marzipan onto the cake and smooth it on with your hands. Trim off any excess marzipan, ensuring the cake board is also covered.
Paint the cake with cooled, boiled water. Knead 500g/1lb 2oz of the white icing until soft and pliable and roll it out until it is 5mm/¼in thick and large enough to cover the top and sides of the fruit cake (use the piece of string as a guide). Carefully lift the icing onto the cake and smooth it on with your hands. Trim off any excess icing.
Repeat steps 10, 11 and 12 for the 23cm/9in cake using 1kg/2lb 4oz each of marzipan and icing.
Repeat steps 10, 11 and 12 for the 30cm/12in cake using 2kg/4lb 8oz each of marzipan and icing. Leave the cakes overnight so that the icing can dry (do not store the cakes in the fridge).
Once the icing has dried, apply a thin line of edible glue around the bottom edge of each cake and carefully stick some ribbon around the cake, securing the join with a little extra glue.
To insert the dowelling rods, hold a dowelling rod at the side of the 23cm/9in cake and mark with a pencil where the icing comes to. Cut the rod and three others to the same length. Push the rods into the cake about 5cm/2in away from the sides, to form the four corners of a square in the centre of the cake. Measure, cut and insert the rods in the same way for the 30cm/12in cake.
To cover the 38cm/15in thick cake board, knead 750g/1lb 10oz of the icing until soft and pliable and roll it out until it is 5mm/¼in thick and large enough to cover the cake board. Spread a little glue over the board, then carefully lift the icing onto the cake board, smoothing it until flat. Trim the edges. Apply a thin line of glue around the edge of the cake board and carefully stick the ribbon around the cake, tying it in a bow at the front.
If you’re transporting the cakes to a venue, it’s best to transport them separately and assemble the cake at the venue. To assemble the cakes, first stick the 30cm/12in cake to the icing-covered 38cm/15in cake board: add a little glue to the middle of the 35cm/14in cake board, then position the 30cm/12in cake in the middle. Place four of the pillars on top of the largest cake, positioning each one over a dowelling rod. Top with the 23cm/9in cake, then position the remaining four pillars on top and finish with the 15cm/6in cake. Using the edible glue, arrange the sugar flowers on the top of the cake and around the side of the 23cm/9in and 30cm/12in cake.
The cakes can be covered with marzipan up to one month ahead - they can then be iced three days in advance.