Wedding cakery – Making the first tier

***DOWNLOAD A PDF OF THE FRUIT CAKE RECIPE INCLUDING 12 INCH ROUND AND SQUARE AND UNUSUAL TINS HERE***

Well, I’ve finally bitten the bullet and started making my wedding cake. On Sunday I set out to make the bottom tier – an epically huge 12 inch square fruit cake, using Delia Smith’s Rich Fruit Cake recipe.(NB this link appears to have gone – try this from the WayBack machine internet archive or use this pdf that I’ve created)

SEE NOTES BELOW ON USING UNUSUAL SHAPED TINS OR A HUGE 12 INCH ROUND CAKE

The helpful “scaling up the fruit cake recipe” guide on her website only goes up to a 10 inch square cake, so I had to do some maths to scale it up to my 12″ square cake tin.  To help all you other bakers out there who suck as badly at maths as I do (although I have a PhD,  numbers are definitely not my forte) here’s the proportions of ingredients I used:

  • Currants 1.35kg
  • Sultanas 525g
  • Raisins 525g
  • (or just use 2.4kg mixed dried fruit)
  • Glacé cherries, finely chopped 165g
  • Mixed peel, finely chopped 165g
  • Brandy 9 tablespoons (well, plus a few sloshes more to be honest…)
  • Plain flour 675g
  • Salt 3/4 level teaspoon
  • Freshly grated nutmeg 3/4 level teaspoon (I used ground)
  • Mixed spice 1.5 level teaspoon
  • Almonds, chopped 165g (I left these out)
  • Soft brown sugar 675g
  • Black treacle 2 ¼ tablespoons
  • Unsalted butter 675g
  • 12 eggs
  • Grated rind of 3 large lemons
  • Grated rind of 3 large oranges

After the sums, the next challenge was working out how to make the damn thing.  Just soaking the dried fruit took up the biggest mixing bowl I own:

2.5kg of dried fruit!

I started by getting everything ready. There was a *lot* of butter:

That's a lot of butter

I put my trusy Kenwood Chef Titanium to work, creaming the butter and sugar, then blending in the eggs and flour. In the end, it was starting to curdle just with the eggs, so I alternated eggs and flour until I’d managed to squeeze everything in. Luckily it did look like proper cake batter at this point, which was reassuring.

Wedding cake batter

Then I had a problem – how to mix in the fruit. I ended up using my huge old stockpot as an improvised mixing bowl. I’m pretty glad that it escaped the last kitchen clearout now, as it’s no good for cooking because the enamel is cracked.

Serious mixing

I’m only little, so to get enough power to mix everything in I had to put it on the floor and use a peculiar rowing motion with the spoon, more like mixing cement than cake.

Then it was time to scoop it all into the tin (not an easy task either) and bung it in the oven. I tied some newspaper round the tin and covered the top with greaseproof paper, to help prevent it from cooking too fast. {Edited to add – as Saint Delia recommends, I cooked it at 140C. Actually I set the oven a bit lower than that as I have an over-enthusiastic fan oven. The sensible thing to do would be to use an oven thermometer to check yours, unless you know it well}

Wedding cake ready for the oven

Four and a half hours later, I tested it with a skewer and declared it done:

Baked wedding cake

I sprinkled a bit more brandy over it, left it to cool and then wrapped it up in greaseproof paper, cling film and tinfoil and put it where the mice can’t get it. Phew!

Edited to add: In response to comments, I’ve worked out the proportions for a 12 inch ROUND Delia fruit cake. These haven’t been checked or tested! This is based on the volume of a 12 inch round cake being approximately 1.25 times the volume of an 11 inch round fruit cake (the largest on the Delia website). Bear in mind this is a bit of an over-calculation. The correct proportions would come out a bit smaller but I’ve done it like this to end up with a whole number of eggs. So you may have batter left over.

  • Currants 1.125kg
  • Sultanas 440g
  • Raisins 440g
  • Glace cherries 140g
  • Mixed peel 140g
  • Brandy 7.5
  • Plain flour 560g
  • Salt ½ level teaspoon
  • Grated Nutmeg 2/3 tsp
  • Mixed spice 1 and ¼ tsp
  • Chopped almonds 140g
  • Soft brown sugar 560g
  • Black treacle 2 tablespoons
  • Unsalted butter 560g
  • 10 eggs
  • Grated rind of 2 large lemons
  • Grated rind of 2 large oranges

Someone also asked about using a heart-shaped tin. Because it’s all done on volume you’ll need to measure the volume of your tin using water. Fill your cake tin with water, to the same level that you’d fill it with cake mixture, then measure how much water you’ve got (in millilitres). One ml of water is one cubic centimetre, if I remember correctly. NB Do this over the sink, unless you want your kitchen to be as wet as mine now is.

I just tested and my 8inch x 8 inch square cake contains roughly 2,000 ml, by way of comparison. So then you need to work out proportionally how much bigger or smaller your heart-shaped tin is, and scale up or down the recipe accordingly.
Based on the number of eggs in the recipe, I’d suggest the following:
Tin volume 2,000ml (2 litres) – use the 9 inch round/ inch square recipe (5 eggs)
Tin volume 1,600 ml (1.6 litres) – use the 8 inch round/7 inch square recipe (4 eggs)
Tin volume 800ml (0.8 litre) – use the 6 inch round/5 inch square recipe (2 eggs)gs)