Way, way back in the mists of time my lovely parents were married, 8 September 1956 to be precise. Those of you adroit at maths will have worked out that this was 60 years ago, so this blog is about the Diamond Anniversary Cake I made for a party that my brother was hosting.
Now lets not get over emotional here, but I do need to say that my almost 30 glorious years with Erik is put in the shade by their 60 years. Mum and Dad must have had their ups and downs, but they never let it show. If we have a marriage like theirs in 30 years time then I’d be very proud.
Enough sentiment, lets get down to the baking! You may not need to make a Diamond Anniversary Cake but this recipe is useful for any large celebration cake. I am making this 12 inch square, please I beseech you do not take a recipe for a 6 inch square and double it; that way madness lies! Most cake recipes around go up to 8 or 10 inches, normally round. Going square and going larger does all kind of things to the proportions. This recipe is based on years of me getting it wrong and chucking away a lot of expensive semi-cooked cake mixture.
A day or two before you want to bake measure out all of the above dried fruit and in a large bowl mix them all together. Pour over 6 tablespoons of brandy give this a good stir and cover with Clingfilm. Every time you walk past the bowl pick it up and give it a good shake and before long all of the brandy will be absorbed.
For The Rest Of The Cake
In a jug crack open all the Eggs whisk together and add a few drops of Almond Extract. Almond essence is not the same thing and should never be found in your store cupboard or Mary Berry will slap you with a wet spatula. Put this mixture to one side.
Drop the Flour and Ground Almonds into a separate large bowl and mix. Tip in the halved, washed and dried Glace Cherries and toss together, make sure that each piece of cherry is coated in flour as this stops them falling to the bottom of the cake.
Add in the Lemon Zest, Flaked Almonds, Dried Pineapple and the pre-soaked fruit. Again mix this together, there will be very little spare flour left, this looks alarming but is right.
Set your mixer to high, cream to together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy. Turn the mixer to low and add a spoonful of the flour/fruit mix followed by about 1 egg sized splodge of the egg mixture. Mix well and repeat until all the egg is used up, do not to take too long doing this you don’t want the fruit to be reduced to pulp. When all the egg is used up turn off your mixer and add the remaining fruit and flour mix by hand. Fold all of this in until it is completely combined.
Now A Note About Your Tin
Line this with baking parchment, lightly oil the tin to make the paper hold in place. Then line it again; yes line it twice with baking parchment. Because you are going to cook this big cake for hours tie around the cake a folded layer of newspaper, thankfully this will protect the cake for the fierce heat. Also have a piece of baking parchment slightly larger than the cake tin, if it all looks like it is cooking too quickly use this as a lid.
Empty the mixture into the tin, ensuring you reach right into the corners and then smooth over the top. Bake this at 140Fan/160C/325F/Gas 3 for an hour and then reduce the temperature to 130Fan/150C/300F/Gas 2 for a further 4 hour. 5 hours in total, test with a skewer at 4 or 4 and a half hours. If one side of the cake is browning a little more turn the cake after a couple of hours. When cooked allow the cake to cool in the tin for 30 mins before removing the tin and placing on a cooling rack to cool completely.
Once the cake is stone cold pierce it all over the top with a cocktail stick or wooden skewer and then fill the little holes you have created with brandy. Double wrap the cake in baking parchment and put the cake (pricked surface uppermost) into an airtight tin. Two days later unwrap the cake, turn it over and prick holes in the bottom of the cake before filling the holes with brandy. Repeat this process every two days for a minimum of two weeks.
To decorate the cake place it on a cake drum. You will need to use a thick board; the thin ones just bend and distort with a cake this size. Brush the cake all over with sieved apricot jam. I use Hartleys Smooth Apricot Jam, that way you do not need to sieve it, simply tip the bottle out into a saucepan and give it a gentle warm to make it much more pliable. Roll out a couple of packs of uncoloured marzipan to the thickness of a £1 coin.
I always use uncoloured marzipan; the yellow variety can show through the fondant top layer. Smooth out the marzipan layer and trim of the excess. Paint another layer of jam and add a top layer of white fondant.
I built up rings of fondant to hold a 10cm glass diamond paperweight in the centre. I surrounded this with 60 home made chocolates, after all this is a Diamond Anniversary Cake. You could save a lot of time by just buying chocolates.
To make it look a bit more like a box of chocolates I added a strip of card that stood taller then the cake. Finish all of this off with a white personalised ribbon.
My parents were very impressed, the party arranged by my brother and family was a great success and a lovely time was had by all.