In the weeks leading up to the Royal Wedding, there was much speculation in the cake community, firstly about who would make the cake, and then what style it would be. There was probably about as much excitement about the cake as ‘the dress’.
Claire Ptak of Violet Bakery made the cake for the wedding of the year. The day before the wedding, the only thing Ms Ptak would give away regarding the cake, was:
“It’s a non-traditional layout. It’s a slight shift from tradition.”
She went on to describe the cake flavour as a balance between sweet and tart, the combination of the “ethereal elderflower” and adding that the texture was “really lovely and the flavour is quintessentially British.”
Leading up to the wedding she worked for five days at the Buckingham Palace kitchens (probably flat out). The cake was made in separate parts and then transported to Windsor Castle, where it was assembled and dressed with the fresh flowers.
200 Amalfi Lemons
500 Organic Suffolk Eggs
20kg of butter
20kg of flour
20kg of sugar
10 bottles of Elderflower syrup
The cake was a light sponge cake filled with Amafi lemon curd and elderflower buttercream with elderflower syrup. The elderflower syrup was made at the Queen’s residence in Sandringham from the elderflower trees on the estate. The cake was decorated with Swiss meringue buttercream and 150 seasonal, fresh flowers – Peonies and roses. Everyone else will read that and stop there, but for all the ‘cakers’ out there, the cake had a rustic effect – read as ‘no sharp edges’.
As soon as the cake was finally revealed, there was much commentary and criticism in the cake world. Now, I’ve always taken delight in the fact that most people in the cake industry are usually kind and considerate folk (we all know what it’s like to pull an ‘all nighter’ to create something magical for our customers). However, there palette knives were out and in force all over social media from Saturday onwards, with harsh and critical commentary about this cake.
I won’t give you my opinion about the wedding cake just yet, because to be perfectly frank, my opinion doesn’t matter. I didn’t order the cake and it wasn’t my wedding, or for my guests. The cake was not made to meet yours or my expectations. If Prince Harry and Meghan (the Duke and Duchess of Sussex) liked the cake, that is all that mattered. I’m sure there was a cake consultation, perhaps a cake tasting too, and I’m sure this was the agreed design that was executed. So all you ‘cake haters’ out there need to pipe down (every pun intended).
There’s also been a lot of talk about the cost of the cake. Who knows if it actually cost £50,000, or perhaps that was just an estimate. The good thing is that the ‘cost’ might empower some of us cake makers who still struggle with charging the true value of what our work is worth (design, buying stock and ingredients, packaging, labour – probably charging less than minimum wage; need I go on…).
One thing is for sure, us cake makers need to thank Claire Ptak for giving us all a new flavour to present to brides and grooms in the future. How many of us rushed out to stock up on lemons and elderflower cordial last week? Even I had a go at making this flavour and it is delicious (it went down a treat with a cuppa, my neighbours, in the afternoon after the wedding).
The cake was simply gorgeous…Refreshingly modern for a thoroughly modern couple. Now as I drop my spatula (which is the cake equivalent of a mic drop); that is all.