Big news - I'm branching into wedding cakes! I've always wanted to, and I would have done my own if it wouldn't have been too much with doing the flowers as well.
So, I've already got two orders on the books - one for an August wedding, and another one in April 2014. I've started experimenting with the one for April. The bride is from Yorkshire and wants a rich fruit cake made with ale as opposed to brandy, in particular Black Sheep Riggwelter ale. I've therefore been trialling a recipe - my intention is, I've made a cake now, and I'll make another one in about 6 weeks time and then work out how long it needs to mature.
I got the recipe from Lindy Smith's book (will post the recipe later) and I replaced the brandy with a much larger quantity of ale. From my understanding you don't need to feed an ale fruit cake, you just soak it in a lot more in the first place, and then it retains the moisture.
I soaked the fruit for 36 hours and that was just about long enough to soak it all in.
I creamed the butter and sugar and then slowly added the eggs and flour. It hen poured the fruit into the cake mixture and then put it in a lined cake tin.
The tin was 4 1/2 inches, and I cooked it for 30 mins at 130 degree fan and then about an hour and a half on 110 degree fan. When it was done, the top was firm, and a skewer came out clean.
I left the baking paper on and wrapped it in a further layer of baking paper and then a layer of foil - if you put foil straight next to the cake the fruit acids can attack it. I then put it in a tin and will now wait for it to mature! Watch this space :)