An eight-tiered wedding cake, consisting of 17 fruit cakes (12 of which formed the base), was created for William & Kate’s reception at Buckingham Palace. The Duke & Duchess of Cambridge are fans of Fiona Cairns fruit cakes. Paul McCartney orders one for Christmas every year!
Taking the “Fruit Cake” to a new level – Cairns’ designed the traditionally-styled wedding cake, covered in cream and white icing and decorated with 900 sugar-paste flowers.
The cake had a British floral theme. Kate asked that each part of the U.K. be represented ‘florally’ – a rose for England, a thistle for Scotland, a daffodil for Wales and a shamrock for Ireland. There were, an estimated, 900 flowers and leaves, of 17 varieties, decorating the cake. The 17 varieties of flora were included for their meaning – known as the “Language of Flowers”, something that was popular with the Victorians, who used flowers to send secret messages. The rose symbolizes happiness, the lily of the valley symbolizes sweetness and humility, oaks/acorns symbolizing strength and endurance, and ivy leaves symbolize marriage. Also on her list of flowers – “Sweet William” – meaning perfection and gallantry. Such well-thought sentiments for her wedding cake!
The luncheon reception’s other confection, a Groom’s Cake, was a chocolate biscuit cake, which was personally requested by William. The cake is a favorite of his from childhood. When Prince William was a boy he would have it for tea with his Grandmother, the Queen, at Buckingham Palace. Sweet. It’s a mixture of “McVitie’s Rich Tea biscuits” and chocolate.
The no-bake “Fridge cake” is made by breaking up British tea biscuits into small pieces. Then the biscuits are tossed in a rich mixture of dark chocolate, cream and butter. The cake is chilled until set and then glazed with a thick coating of chocolate. The recipe belongs to the royal family – but they released it and it is enclosed below!
A “Groom’s Cake” is smaller than the wedding cake. According to wedding myth, if a single woman sleeps with a piece of the groom’s cake under her pillow, she will dream of the man that she will marry. Since the first groom’s cakes were reserved for guests to take home and put under their pillow (for the husband fairy), they were usually a more durable consistency.
Broken cookies/tea biscuits covered with melted chocolate. Great, it’s chocolate and easy to make – I need another easy-to-access chocolate yummy like I need a hole in my head! And to wash it down – I mean to toast to the newlyweds – “Pol Roger NV Brut Reserve” Champagne was served; a surprisingly affordable choice of champagne for the future King at just $49.95 a bottle. You know they saved a king’s ransom when they chose this champagne – think, 650 guests at this luncheon alone.
EXTRA! EXTRA! READ ALL ABOUT IT! PALACE RELEASES RECIPE FOR PRINCE WILLIAMS’ GROOM’S CAKE!
“Chocolate Biscuit Cake”
Break 7 ounces of tea biscuits or cookies into ½-inch chunks – not crumbs. McVitie’s brand Rich Tea Biscuits were used in Prince Williams’ cake – but think of the possibilities here (I’m thinking of my two favorite, peanut butter and snickerdoodle cookies : )
BATTER: Micro on high 1½ minutes, or until bubbling 1 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons honey, ½ stick butter. Add 16 ounces bittersweet chocolate bits; stir/melt smooth. Stir in 1 tsp. vanilla, then crumbled biscuits.
Spoon the mixture into a sprayed 7-8″ round springform pan, using back of the spoon to smooth top. Gently tap the pan on counter to eliminate any air pockets. Refrigerate 3 hours to thoroughly chill. Once the cake is chilled, prepare the glaze.
GLAZE: Cook on med 2 tablespoons butter, ¼ cup heavy cream. When the mixture reaches a boil, remove from heat; add 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, stirring until completely melted and smooth.
Carefully remove the sides from the springform pan (slide a paring knife at edge). Invert the cake onto a wire rack, then remove the bottom of the pan from the cake. Set the rack over parchment paper to catch drips.
Pour glaze evenly over the cake, allowing it to drip down and completely cover the top and sides. Allow to firm up, then transfer to serving plate. Store in the refrigerator.
Rich Tamarind Fruit Cake
A Note from Fiona Cairns About the Recipe: “I started my business using this particularly moist, dark recipe as a Christmas cake, producing hundreds of miniatures cooked in baked bean cans from my kitchen table. It has been tweaked by adding tamarind — my husband’s bright idea. Make it up to three months in advance, or at least a week before you want it, to let it mature and absorb the brandy”.
“This is exactly the same method you would use at home if you were making a fruit cake – we just use bigger batches.”
Single cake makes 25-30 slices
Ingredients for the Fruit Cake:
1 1/2 cups candied cherries
2 cups golden raisins
2 cups dark raisins
1 1/4 cups mixed candied citrus peel
2/3 cup chopped crystallized ginger
1/2 cup dried currants
3 tablespoons molasses
3 tablespoons bitter orange marmalade
1 teaspoon tamarind concentrate
finely grated zest of 1 orange
finely grated zest of 1 lemon
1 heaped tablespoon apple pie spice
6 tablespoons brandy, plus 3 tablespoons to “feed” the cake
1 cup walnuts
1/3 cup blanched almonds
1 1/4 cups self-rising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups almond flour
5 large eggs, lightly beaten
Preparing the Fruit For The Cake Batter:
The day before, rinse the cherries, then dry them well with paper towels and cut each in half. Place the golden and dark raisins, mixed peel, ginger, currants, cherries, molasses, marmalade, tamarind paste, zests and spice into a large bowl. Pour in 6 tablespoons of brandy, stir well, cover with plastic wrap and let stand overnight.
Spread the nuts on a baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes in the oven, shaking once. Cool slightly, chop coarsely and set aside.
The next day, preheat the oven to 275 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9-inch springform pan and line the bottom and sides with parchment paper. Wrap the outside of the pan with brown paper and tie with string, to protect the cake from scorching in the oven.
Combining the Fruit Cake Ingredients:
Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. In an electric mixer on high speed, beat the butter and sugar for at least 5 minutes until it turns pale and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, then very gradually the eggs, mixing well between each addition. Fold in the flour with a large metal spoon and then the soaked fruits (and any liquid) and nuts.
Spread the batter into the pan. Bake on an oven rack in the lower third of the oven for about 2 1/2-3 hours. If a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, it is ready. If it browns too much before it is fully cooked, make a circle of foil a bit larger than the cake, pierce a hole in the center and open it up, then place it over the pan.
Let cool in the pan. Pierce all over with a wooden toothpick and evenly sprinkle “feed” the remaining 3 tablespoons of brandy. Remove from the pan and discard the paper. Wrap in fresh parchment paper, then aluminum foil, and let stand for a week or up to three months. Unwrap and sprinkle with with 1 tablespoon more brandy every other week, if you like, for extra succulence and booziness!
BOOZINESS?! I’ve never seen a recipe that suggested such a thing! Leave it to the Brits! Just when you thought that all fruit cakes had been re-gifted into oblivion … “succulent, booziness”, in the shape of baked bean cans, may be your favorite gift this Christmas.
Fiona’s fruit cake without icing. Courtesy of “Bake & Decorate,” Rodale Press