Piece of Cake: DIY English Wedding (Fruitcake) Cake
Prince William and Kate Middleton’s eight-tiered wedding cake was a traditional English fruitcake handled by Leicestershire-based cake designer Fiona Cairns.
Having a wedding fruitcake is a longstanding British tradition, but in no way was the cake for Prince William and Kate your average fruitcake. It was decorated using the Lambeth technique, a style of cake decorating that uses intricate piping to create 3D scrollwork, leaves, flowers and other decorations. It’s rumored that their cake had over 900 sugar-paste flowers. This is popular in England, but is used by cake decorators around the world. Because these cakes are traditionally all white or cream colored, they are often accented with fresh fruit or flowers for brides who want a pop of color. The result is a gorgeous, detailed wedding cake that looks very traditional and elegant.
Why not stay true to the British way and try your hand at your own fruitcake? If you’ve never been a fan of the dense cake, try a traditional English version, such as the recipe below, which is packed with dried fruits and repeatedly brushed with brandy. Thanks to JoyofBaking.com for this delicious recipe! Don't miss a recipe for Royal Icing and a Fruitcaker Hater's Fruitcake recipe below as well!
Traditional British Fruitcake
1 cup butter, unsalted
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3 large eggs
3 tablespoons brandy plus extra for brushing the cake
Juice and zest from one orange
Zest from one lemon
3/4 cup ground almonds
1 cup hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, or almonds, chopped
1 1/2 pounds of an assortment of dried fruits (dried apricots, figs, prunes, etc.), candied and chopped mixed peel, and glace cherries (chopped into bite size pieces)
3/4 pound of an assortment of raisins, sultanas, currants, dried cranberries and/or cherries
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
Grease an 8” spring form pan with removable bottom. Line the bottom of the pan with buttered parchment paper. Also line the sides of the pan with a strip of buttered parchment paper that extends about 2 inches above the pan. Preheat oven to 325°F.
Beat the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the brandy, juice and zest of the orange, and zest of the lemon. Then, fold in the ground almonds, chopped nuts and all the dried and candied fruits. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Fold this into the cake batter.
Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and, if desired, sprinkle the top of the cake with blanched almonds. Place the spring form pan on a larger baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour. Reduce the oven temperature to 300°F and bake for an additional 1 hour 30 minutes or until cake tester comes out clean. Place pan on a wire rack to cool. With a skewer, poke holes in the top surface of the cake and brush with a little brandy. Wrap the cake thoroughly in plastic wrap and aluminum foil and place in a cake tin or plastic bag. Brush the cake periodically (once or twice a week) with brandy until you’re ready to serve. This cake will keep several weeks or it can be frozen.
Royal Icing is thought to get its name from having been the traditional icing for fruitcake – the wedding cake of choice for English royalty. An advantage to using royal icing is that it seals in the freshness of the cake. Below is a recipe that you can use with a fruitcake recipe or to decorate just about anything. If you need to adjust the thickness, add a little milk or a little more confectioners’ sugar.
1 lb. confectioners’ sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla, orange, peppermint or other extract
3 large egg whites (you can use pasteurized egg whites or meringue powder)
3 to 6 drops edible glycerin (optional)
Sift together the confectioner's sugar and cream of tartar 2 or 3 times. In a large bowl, combine the vanilla, egg whites and glycerin and mix until frothy. Slowly add the sugar mixture. Turn the mixer speed to high and beat for 3-4 minutes.
For those of you who have decide there isn’t a fruitcake in the world that would win you over, we dare you to give this fun fruitcake recipe a try!
BONUS: Fruitcake Haters' Fruitcake
2 cups butter
2 1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup honey
4 cups flour, sifted
2 tsp cinnamon
2 t baking powder
1 tsp allspice
3/4 t salt
7 1/2 cups dried fruits bits and nuts (any combination will work)
1 cup apricot nectar
1/2 cup light cream
2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 cup brandy (optional)
1/4 cup orange liqueur (optional)
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Cream together the butter, brown sugar and honey. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well. In another bowl sift together the flour, cinnamon, baking powder, allspice and salt. Stir half of the dry mix into the butter mixture. Dredge (i.e. dust or cover) the dried fruit and nuts with the remaining dry mixture. Combine the apricot nectar, light cream and lemon juice to the batter and fold in the fruit mixture.
Divide the batter into four buttered and floured 9.5 x 5 inch loaf pans and bake for 2.5¬–3 hours, until tester comes out clean. Cool the fruitcakes in pans on a rack. In a bowl combine the brandy and orange liqueur and sprinkle each cake with 1/4 the blend. Let cakes stand one hour to cool.