Making a Fruit & Chocolate Stacked Wedding Cake

My final cake in London - a 2 tier double height stacked wedding cake

My final cake in London - a 2 tier double height stacked wedding cake of fruit & chocolate cakes

My final cake order in London was for a wedding, which was such a nice way to leave London! It was a big order too – wedding cake, cupcakes, and mini cheesecakes. The wedding cake comprised of 2 double height tiers, a 6 inch fruit cake tier and an 8 inch chocolate cake tier. I don’t get a lot of orders for fruit cake (or double height tiers) so I thought I’d blog a bit of a step by step guide on the creation of this cake to show the differences between covering a fruit cake versus covering a chocolate or sponge cake.

For the top tier, I baked two 6 inch fruit cakes. The good thing about fruit cakes is that they can be baked and decorated reasonably far in advance as they keep for so long unlike sponge or chocolate cakes, which are the  two most popular cakes I make. I made a HUGE amount of white fondant and coloured it a cream colour, reserving a little of the original white to create circles with later on.

To cover the top tier, I first had to cover each cake individually with fondant (normally I would use marzipan but the bride’s brother has a nut allergy). I’ll go over this process now for the first cake.

The very first step is to turn the fruit cake upside down and secure it on the cake board with some royal icing or wet scraps of fondant. The bottom of your cake always has a nice flat surface with fewer lumps and bumps which is better to cover and decorate. The top of the cake often has a small “hump” caused by the sides of the cake cooking faster than the middle due to contact with the heat from the tin. So when you place the cake on the board upside down, this hump causes a small gap between the cake edge and the bottom of the cake board. To fix this, take a piece of fondant or marzipan, whichever you are using, and roll it into a sausage shape then wrap it around the bottom of the cake to fill in the gap.

Next up, I inspected the fruit cake for any large holes and patched these with small bits of fondant. Then I used my smoothers to make sure the fondant bits and the bottom sausage of fondant were lying flush with the surface of the cake. Doing this should give you a nice smooth surface to cover with the marzipan/fondant.

Patching holes in a fruit cake with fondant

Patching holes in a fruit cake with fondant

After rolling out the fondant I then brushed the cake surface with sugar syrup. This does 2 things – helps to make the cake more moist and makes the surface sticky to help secure the fondant.

Brushing fruitcake with sugar syrup

Brushing fruitcake with sugar syrup

Then I covered the cake with the rolled out fondant and trimmed it to size, then went over it again with my smoothers. I covered the second fruit cake with it’s first layer of fondant as well then left both cakes overnight to dry.

The next day, I stacked one fruit cake on top of the other, using royal icing to secure the cake board of the top cake to the bottom cake, then I brushed the cakes with sugar syrup and covered them both with one big, thicker layer of fondant to create the illusion of one very big cake. White ribbon was wrapped around the base of the cake.Then this was again left overnight to dry.

While the fondant was drying, I cut out some circles from white fondant and let them dry slightly as well. Once the fondant on the cake was nice and set, I used sugar glue to stick on the circles, very carefully measuring the distance between each circle and the distance of each circle from the bottom of the board to make sure they were all accurately spaced and at the same height. This sounds easy but takes quite a while if you want to be exact! I found a side scribing tool very useful in height placement.

Circles accurately placed on the top tier

Circles accurately placed on the top tier

Once all the circles were on, I made a batch of royal icing and filled a small piping bag fitted with a number 2 tube with some of the icing. Then I piped small dots around each circle in a kind of starburst pattern. This can be quite time consuming, especially on a larger cake. By the time I had done both the 6 inch and 8 inch tiers my arms were quite sore!

Piping dots around the circles on the cake

Piping dots around the circles on the cake

Close up of the dots being piped

Close up of the dots being piped

The next day, it was time to bake the two 8 inch chocolate cakes to make the bottom tier. I cut each cake in half, secured one to a cake board with wet fondant, brushed each layer with sugar syrup, then stacked them on top of each other with chocolate buttercream in between each layer. Notice that I did not put a cake board in between cakes or layers, this cake is quite light and spongy so the cake boards were not necessary. Here is a picture of the first 3 layers stacked and buttercreamed (yum):

Stacking and buttercreaming the chocolate cake layers

Stacking and buttercreaming the chocolate cake layers

Then I covered the top with chocolate buttercream, smoothed it out with a large palette knife, then put loads of buttercream on the sides. Using a turntable and a metal side scraping tool, I got the sides as smooth and perfect as possible. I didn’t have to patch any holes here with fondant, firstly because you don’t get as many large holes due to lack of fruit and nuts in the cake, and secondly the buttercream will fill any holes that are present. If you get the buttercream incredibly smooth you don’t have to roll the fondant out as thickly as there are virtually no lumps and bumps to hide with a ghastly thick layer of fondant.

Very smooth buttercream coating allows you to roll fondant thinly

Very smooth buttercream coating allows you to roll fondant thinly

I let the buttercream crust, rolled out a reasonably thin layer of cream coloured fondant, spritzed the cake with water to make the buttercream slightly tacky so the fondant would stick to it, covered the cake with fondant then placed the ribbon around it and left it overnight to dry. I repeated the circle sticking and dot piping process, then inserted dowelling rods to support the top tier. The top tier was a monster, weighing in at 2.5kg, so I decided to err on the side of caution and used my usual 4 dowelling rods near the edges of where the top tier would be plus an extra one in the middle.

As the top tier was unusually heavy I also decided to be cautious in transporting the cake too and transported the tiers in separate boxes and stacked them at the venue. You can see the dowelling rods in the pic of me assembling the cake at the venue below (they’re the white “dots” in the middle of the cake):

Stacking the cake at the venue

Assembling the cake at the venue

Here is a pic of the finished cake along with the cupcakes I made on the dessert table at the wedding reception:

The cupcakes and wedding cake at the wedding venue

The cupcakes and wedding cake at the wedding venue

The bride left a lovely comment about my cakes on my Facebook page the day after the wedding, which was so sweet of her. She seemed really pleased with my work, which makes me so happy! A great way for Delicious Cake Design to end it’s tenure in London wouldn’t you say!

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13 Responses to “Making a Fruit & Chocolate Stacked Wedding Cake”

  1. Love the cake and the dessert table!

  2. tb says:

    looks beautiful!
    im making a double height stacked fruit cake for part of my sisters wedding cake.. i was unsure how to do the layers (since this is my first big cake!)

    i was thinking i would put a layer of marzepan between the layers, as well as around the cake under fondant. i know this wouldnt have been an option for you in this case, but do you think this is a good idea?

    thank you! (im glad i stumbled upon this website – its fantastic!)

    • Thank you for your kind words! I’m glad you like my site 🙂

      If I understand correctly, you want to cover each cake with marzipan, stack them on top of each other, cover the stacked cakes with marzipan as a single tall cake, and then cover this with fondant? I think that this would work, however, and this is just my opinion, it’s a lot of marzipan and would give the cake quite a strong taste.

      For the double height cake in this blog post, I had each fruit cake on a separate cake board and individually covered before stacking because the couple were planning to separate the cakes and keep one and serve the other. Otherwise, what I would’ve done (and what I suggest you do) is stack the cakes directly on top of each other with a single cake board under the bottom cake. Then apply the marzipan layer over both cakes as a single tall cake, then the fondant layer.

      Good luck!

      Charmayne from Delicious Cake Design

  3. Mark says:

    Hi Charmaye

    Just wanted to say how stunning your work is. Lived the cake in your blog. I’ve a double height wedding cake with my fruit cakes on top I’m just after some reassurance as I’ve always put fruit on bottom as its so heavy . I’m leaving the wedding cake the night before at the venue . Just want to clarify that the weight if the fruit cake didn’t sink .

    Thanks mark x

    • Hi Mark,
      Thanks for the kind words about my work. There was absolutely no issue with the fruit cake sinking into the bottom tier. The dowelling rods did their job well! For extra security, I would also be using a good quality thick cake board and not a flimsy cardboard disc. Good luck!
      Charmayne from Delicious Cake Design

  4. Caroline says:

    Hello, fantastic blog! It has been so helpful and your cakes are fantastic.
    Please can you help me!? I have a few questions. I’m new to cake decorating and I’m doing my first wedding. My sisters! at the end of April. Its a 3 tier cake, 10″ chocolate 8″ carrot and 6″ deep fruit cake. PLUS 100 cupcakes.
    I made the fruit cakes in December (been feeding weekely)and plan to stick them together as 2 cakes with 2, 6″ inch boards. I wondered if it is necessary to use dowels in the bottom layer before covering both in marzipan then fondant to look like one cake. I’m worried about the weight being on top of 2 sponge cakes as my chocolate cake which my sister loves is a soft cake (will use extra dowels at the bottom).

    2nd question. I want to achieve a sharp finish so the chocolate cake will be both filled and covered with milk Choc ganache and the middle carrot tier will also be covered with white chocolate ganache. I want to use a cream cheese filling but am worried about how long the cake will be out of the fridge, and also if I should cover the entire carrot cake in cream cheese then put an outer layer of ganache OR just have a cream cheese filling. This tier is a major concern. I thought of using a butter cream filling but the groom loves cream cheese frosting. what do you think/do?

    3rd Q: I’m the maid of honour so won’t have time to set the cake up at the venue in advance. Would it be a big risk to transport the cake already stacked from home? (They always seem to on tv!) I will be using standard dowels. But the cake will be in the car during the services! Shall I just box them up then stack at the venue?

    4th question. When should I bake everything? I plan to marzipan and ice the top 6inch fruit cake about 2-3 weeks before but am still not sure when to do the other 2 cakes and the 100 cupcakes (cupcakes will have a butter cream rose whirl) was thinking of baking everything on Wednesday but am not sure about storage between Wednesday and Saturday. Fridge or box!?!

    FINAL Q: in future, how much would you recommend I charge for such a wedding cake, and for the cupcakes?

    I really hope you can help. As the wedding is fast approaching I’m getting a bit worried. Thanks so much in advance and sorry for such a long message

    • Hi Caroline,

      Thanks for reading the blog, I’m glad you’ve found it useful!

      I’ll answer your questions as best I can.

      1. I do not think it’s necessary to dowel the bottom layer of the 2 fruit cakes, fruit cakes are generally strong sturdy cakes that can take that small amount of weight. HOWEVER, if you are at all worried always err on the side of caution, if you feel dowelling is necessary than go ahead and do it.

      2. My cream cheese filling has a lot of sugar in it and this acts as a preservative, so I’ve had it out of the fridge for several hours with no problems. I personally would put the cream cheese filling then an outer layer of ganache without cream cheese filling under it, purely because this outer layer of cream cheese filling will add so much time to your process and make it a bit harder to achieve your perfect ganache coating. You have a ton on your plate right now, I’d economise on time where you can.

      3. I almost always transport my stacked cakes fully assembled. I make sure there are plenty of dowels properly installed and heaps of royal icing between cakes to cement them together. And drive slowly! Any sugar flowers or fragile decorations, I try to put them on at the venue once the cake is on the display table.

      4. Generally, I bake on a Monday and store in air tight containers (never the fridge as this dries the cakes out), ganache on a Tuesday, cover with fondant on a Wed and store in boxes, and do everything else I need to do on Thurs and Fri (decorate, stack etc), then deliver on Saturday. The fondant will preserve your cake and keep it fresh, it’s the air that makes cakes go hard and stale and the ganache and fondant are protectors from the air. Cupcakes however I always bake and decorate the day before delivery as they go bad very quickly. I have heard of people baking cupcakes well in advance and freezing them then allowing them to come to room temp before decorating, however I have not tried this.

      5. I really can’t tell you what to charge because it depends on your area. Take a look around local bakers to see what they charge for similar work and try to price accordingly based on bakers of similar experience and skill level. The greater your skill level, the more you can charge. As you are only new to cake decorating, you won’t be charging the same as the most expensive bakers in town. Price should include your ingredients, materials, equipment, utilities (gas, water, etc), and of course your time.

      Good luck!

      Charmayne from Delicious Cake Design

      • amber brooks says:

        Can you please tell me the height of the bottom chocolate cake would it be close to 8″ and what would the top one be in that case?. Can you suggest a good chocolate cake recipe. I did read that you make the cakes a week before, this is what I need as its for a wedding. Thanks for the amazing blog I learnt so much. Amber Brooks New Zealand.

        • Hi Amber,

          Both cakes were each around 6″ tall. I wrote this blog post quite a while ago when my standard cake height was 3″ tall. Now the trend is for cakes to be taller so my standard cake height is 4″, however I would still only go as high as 6″ tall (what’s called double barrel height) per cake for stability reasons.

          For chocolate cake I like Kathy Moore’s recipe, it’s in her book “Cakes: From Concept to Creation” which is an excellent reference on the technicalities of making fondant covered cakes. If you prefer something a bit denser and more moist give Planet Cake’s chocolate mud cake a try, their first book called “Planet Cake” has the recipe in it. I’ve actually developed my own recipes with these as starting points but I’m afraid they are my trade secrets so I don’t share them :).

          Good luck!

          Charmayne from Delicious Cake Design

  5. Caroline says:

    Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to get back to me! I am really grateful

  6. Charmaine says:

    Hi.. I am making a four tiered fruit wedding cake, with about fifty fondant roses. My question is whether it’s possible to stack one on top the other. Seeing that it would be quite heavy, that is my concern. Can you please give me some direction as to how to stack them. Would greatly appreciate your help. Many thanks . Charmaine

    • Hi,
      Yes it is fine to stack a 4 tier fruit cake. Generally fruit cakes are sturdy enough they don’t need any dowelling support especially if they are covered in royal icing. However if using fondant or softened royal icing, I would use dowelling rods in all tiers except the top one for extra support.
      Charmayne from Delicious Cake Design

      • Charmaine says:

        Hi Charmayne, Thank you so much for taking the time to give your input. I am truly very grateful . Thanks again

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