Monday, 2 May 2011

A right Royal Wedding Cake

Kate and William’s amazing wedding cake  
I have to admit that I am not a fervent monarchist but, I suspect like many folk, I did spend the day watching the wedding coverage. Of course, I had a sneaking fascination to see what the bride was wearing. I was also keen to see the cake and pick up a few tips from Leicestershire baker, Fiona Cairns. Kate and William’s cake was a traditional multi tiered one with the edible flowers representing the 4 nations. It was an amazing creation.

The history of wedding cakes goes back to early medieval times and later Tudor cakes which were largely bread and dried fruit.  More recent tradition came from Queen Victoria who had the first 3 tiered wedding cake weighing over 300 lbs, described as a ‘triumph of architecture.’  Wartime wedding cakes in the 1940s relied on family and friends saving ration coupons to donate for the ingredients. Couples sometimes had a cardboard cutout cake with a tiny cake hidden beneath.

Our family always marks big events in family life by making a cake. Grandma Abson’s niece, Ivy, made the wedding cake for Grandma’s eldest great granddaughter, Rachel when she married Greg in 2004 and decorated it with some superb iced flowers.
Rachel and Greg’s stunning wedding cake
I’m keeping up Grandma Abson’s tradition by making the wedding cake for my daughter in October. Once they make the final decision about the design, I’ll be working to a timetable starting with making the fruit cake tier using the recipe for Bride's Cake from Grandma's recipe book. Here it is :  

Celebration Bride's Fruit Cake 
8oz/225g brown sugar
8oz/225g butter
1 tbsp black treacle (warmed)
1 tbsp golden syrup (warmed)
5 eggs (beaten)
9oz/250g self raising flour
4oz/110g glace cherries
4oz/110g mixed peel
10oz/275g each of sultanas, raisins, currants
1tsp each of cinnamon and mixed spice
2oz/50g nut mix +1oz/25g ground almonds or 3oz/75g ground almonds
1/6 pint/100ml stout 

Cream the butter and sugar and add the treacle and golden syrup. Add the eggs and half of the flour and spices. Beat the mixture. Stir in the almonds and cherries and then the rest of the flour and dried fruit. Add the stout. Bake for 3 – 3 ½ hours. Start warm for 30 minutes and then gradually reduce and finish in slow oven. (325F, Mark 3, 170C to 250F. Mark ½ 130C)
You need to make fruit cake in advance so it can mature. Then every week or so prick the top and pour a few teaspoonsful of brandy to help the process. Two weeks before it's needed, cover the cake with homemade almond paste. Here is Grandma’s recipe :

Almond Paste
8oz/225g ground almonds
12oz/340g caster sugar
 4 tablespoonfuls of lemon juice 
2 tablespoonsful of water instead of the egg 

Mix all the ingredients and bind the paste together. You can also substitute a 1 tablespoon of sherry instead of 1 of the water. You can also substitute half of the caster sugar with icing sugar.

With Grandma's recipe, I know my daughter's wedding cake will taste as good as the royal cake. Congratulations and good luck to the happy royal couple!

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