Traditional wedding cake
Make your own wedding cake with our step-by-step recipe. The great thing about making a fruit cake is that it can be made well in advance of the big day.
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 20cm/8in, 28cm/11in and 35cm/14in thick cake boards. You will also need eight dowelling rods and eight cake pillars. All of these are available from specialist cake shops. Plus you will need 5m/16ft 5in x 1.5cm/⅝in pink satin ribbon.
For the fondant roses
- 1.5kg/3lb 5oz ready-to-roll white icing
- pink edible dust
- edible glue
For the 15cm/6in tier
- 150g/5½oz butter, plus extra for greasing
- 90g/3¼oz dark brown sugar
- 60g/2¼oz caster sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla essence
- 5 free-range eggs
- 165g/5¾oz currants
- 225g/8oz raisins
- 340g/12½oz sultanas
- ½ orange, zest only
- 1 tbsp black treacle
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 185g/6½oz self-raising flour
- ½ tsp ground cloves
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
For the 23cm/9in tier
- 250g/9oz butter, plus extra for greasing
- 150g/5½oz dark brown sugar
- 100g/3½oz caster sugar
- 3 tsp vanilla essence
- 8 free-range eggs
- 275g/9¾oz currants
- 375g/13oz raisins
- 565g/1lb 4oz sultanas
- 1 orange, zest only
- 2 tbsp black treacle
- ¾ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 310g/11oz self-raising flour
- ¾ tsp ground cloves
- ¾ tsp ground cinnamon
For the 30cm/12in tier
- 375g/13oz butter, plus extra for greasing
- 225g/8oz dark brown sugar
- 150g/5½oz caster sugar
- 4 tsp vanilla essence
- 12 free-range eggs
- 410g/14½oz currants
- 550g/1lb 4oz raisins
- 850g/1lb 14oz sultanas
- 1½ oranges, zest only
- 3 tbsp black treacle
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 450g/1lb self-raising flour
- 1 tsp ground cloves
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
To ice the cakes
To make the roses, pinch off a little icing and roll it in the palm of your hands to make it more malleable. Shape the icing into an oval shape, smooth out one end of the oval to make it thinner so that it resembles the frilly part of the tip of a rose petal. Make 8-10 more rose petals in this way. To make a rose, roll a small ball of icing into a cone shape, then wrap a rose petal around it. Carefully press the remaining rose petals around the central petal to form a rose shape. You may need to ‘tease’ the petals out from each other a little bit.
Carefully brush the edges of the roses with pink dust. Repeat the process until you have made about 15 roses. Set aside for 2-3 hours, or until the icing has hardened. (The roses can be made up to a month in advance and stored in an airtight container.)
Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Grease and line a 15cm/6in, 23cm/9in and 30cm/12in round cake tin.
For the 15cm/6in tier, cream the butter, sugar and vanilla together in a bowl until well combined. Gradually beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well combined. Stir in the dried fruit, orange zest and treacle, then fold in the bicarbonate of soda, flour and spices until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the cake tin and bake in the oven for about two hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Repeat step 4 for the 23cm/9in tier and bake in the oven for three hours, or until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
Repeat step 4 for the 30cm/12in tier and bake in the oven for 4½ hours, 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 on a wire rack to cool completely.
Warm the apricot jam in a saucepan, then pass it through a sieve.
Level the top of the 15cm/6in fruit cake, 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. Leave the cakes overnight so that the icing can dry (do not store the cakes in the fridge).
Repeat steps 9, 10 and 11 for the 23cm/9in cake using 1kg/2lb 4oz each of marzipan and icing.
Repeat steps 9, 10 and 11 for the 30cm/12in cake using 2kg/4lb 8oz each of marzipan and icing.
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 20cm/8in thick cake board, knead 400g/14oz 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, securing the join with a little extra glue.
Repeat step 16 using 500g/1lb 2oz icing for the 28cm/11in cake board and 750g/1lb 10oz icing for the 35cm/14in cake board.
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 35cm/14in 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 28cm/11in cake board, and repeat the process with the 23cm/9in cake, finishing with the 20cm/8in cake board and the 15cm/6in cake. Using the edible glue, arrange the fondant roses in a cluster 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.