Guest Author - Mary Ellen Sweeney
The Irish Wedding Cake is a culinary masterpiece which, though it may sound difficult, is deceptively easy. The trick is to give yourself enough time to take your time with it, and to have all the ingredients, measuring cups, spoons, and bowls (big bowls!) lined up and ready to go. Make this well in advance of the big day so you have plenty of time to let it mellow, adding the spirits of choice every few days to enhance the wonderful flavor and aroma.
2 cups of raisins
2 cups of sultanas or baking raisins
2 cups of currants
1 cup of slivered or chopped almonds
1 cup of candied cherries
1 cup of candied peel
2-1/2 cups of self-rising flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon of ground clove
1/2 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon of allspice
2 cups of butter, softened but not melted
2 cups of dark brown sugar
1/4 cup of molasses
juice of one lemon and one orange
6 extra large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup spirits (brandy, rum, or whiskey)
Line a 12-inch springform pan with a double thickness of parchment paper on the sides and bottom. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl mix together the fruits, almonds, and 1/4 cup of the flour to coat the mixed fruits with flour.
In a separate bowl, cream together the dark brown sugar and the softened butter. Whip in the molasses and the lemon and orange juice. Beat the eggs and vanilla and blend into the butter mixture.
Sift the remaining flour, salt, and spices together and add to the floured fruit and nut mixture.
Mix all ingredients plus 1/4 cup of the spirits, stir well until all of the ingredients are well mixed.
Pour the batter into the pan and even off with a spatula, leaving a depression in the center, as this will take longer to bake. Bake in the center of the oven at 325 degrees for 50 minutes. Turn the heat down to 300 degrees and continue to bake, checking frequently, for 3 or 4 hours longer.
Watch for overbrowning, as oven temperatures differ, and the mixture of sugars could burn easily. If the cake appears to be cooking too quickly, cover with a double layer of aluminum foil and reduce the temperature slightly, increasing the cooking time.
The cake is done when a knife inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.
Let the cake cool completely before removing it from the pan. Wrap the cooled cake in a layer of waxed paper, christening it with 1/4 cup of spirits before closing the paper. (Some bakers make small skewer holes in the cake to allow the liquor to seep into the center of the cake.) Wrap the entire package in aluminum foil as well. Let it sit for as long as possible, but at least two weeks, before frosting. Add small amounts of spirits every few days to moisten and mellow.
There are many types of frostings used by Irish bakers. They are a far cry from the sugar and lard used by many commercial bakeries. A delicious buttercream frosting is always acceptable on an Irish wedding cake, but more traditional bakers will top an Irish wedding cake with a thin layer of apricot puree or jam, followed by a layer of marzipan, and then add fondant icing, which is a poured icing that dries hard, making it very easy to decorate the cake. This icing stands up well to tranportation as well.
8 cups of sifted confectioner’s sugar
3/4 cup of water
3 tablespoons of light corn syrup
2 teaspoons of almond extract
Combine ingredients in a saucepan. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture reaches 92 degrees F. The mixture should be slightly thickened, but thin enough to pour.
Place the cake (with a layer of apricot puree/marzipan smoothed on top if desired) on a wire rack with a plate or pan beneath it to catch the overflow. Slowly pour the fondant on the cake in a circular motion, guiding the frosting with a rubber spatula. Let the icing set up in a cool place. Decorate further if desired.
Wedgwood A gift, perhaps?