The wedding of Prince Harry to Meghan Markle broke with many traditions – as did the couple’s cake.
Designed by Claire Ptak, it was a light sponge containing elderflower syrup made from trees on The Queen’s estate in Sandringham. The filling was made from Amalfi lemon curd and elderflower buttercream, and the cake decorated with Swiss meringue buttercream and 150 fresh flowers including peonies and roses.
“The buttercream is sweet and the lemon curd is very tart so you get a very lovely thing happening when you take a bite, which is to get all of these flavours and sensations perfectly balanced,” said Ptak ahead of Saturday’s wedding. "It’s a kind of an ethereal, floral flavour, which I think is very special, especially for a wedding.”
Ptak, who owns the Violet Bakery in Hackney, worked with her team of six bakers full-time for five days in the kitchens of Buckingham Palace.
The cake was cut and served at the lunchtime reception for around 600 guests at St George’s Hall in Windsor Castle. In addition to savoury canapés and bowl food, guests were served a variety of sweet canapés: Champagne & Pistachio Macaroons; Orange Crème Brûlée Tartlets; and Miniature Rhubarb Crumble Tartlets.
British Baker asked a selection of bakery experts for their views on the cake:
Jacqui Passmore, marketing manager, UK and Ireland for Dawn Foods
“The royal wedding cake took all the elements of a traditional three-tiered cake, deconstructed them and created a stunning visual ‘installation’, working on lots of levels.
“Adorned with fresh flowers including pastel-coloured peonies and roses, like the rest of the wedding, this cake – or several cakes – was beautiful in both its simplicity and modern interpretation of a classic. It looked stunning and no doubt tasted delicious too.
“Gone was a heavy fruit cake, replaced with an on-trend botanical-infused lemon sponge and the lightest of meringue and buttercream; this cake wasn’t just a work of art, but baked to be enjoyed too.
“We predict that this wedding cake will be setting the style in baking for a long time to come – light, fresh, summery, beautiful to look at and delicious to eat.”
John Slattery, Slattery Patisserie and Chocolatier, Manchester
“As with many aspects of this modern royal wedding, the cake design and filling was a break from the traditional ornate cakes we have seen in the past.
“This, I believe, reflects the modern commercial trends and perhaps the preference of the bride for an American influence for a soft cream finish.
“The fresh flowers complemented the fruit and floral flavours of the cake composition and I am sure, reading the ingredients, was delicious to eat.”
Dawn Gemmell, former assistant dean, College of Food (Bakery), University College Birmingham
“From the ingredients, it’s obvious that it tasted delicious.
“The decoration, I would say, looks typically American, although usually the cakes are placed on top of one another.
“The coating indicates a very modern way of using cream to decorate – not as symmetric as royal icing, however, a fresh approach.
“I love the elegant way it was displayed on the gold stand.”
“We would guess that it took near military precision planning to ensure the cake was as fresh as possible in time for the wedding.
“No surprises on the frostings/buttercream covering, as our Big Trend Survey highlighted this as consumers’ favourite cake covering.
“Style wise, is it elegantly simplistic and uncluttered; the simple/almost rustic nature of the cake offset by the decadent gold elaborate cups and display trays (perhaps mirroring the ’down to earth’ appealing nature of the couple vs the formality and grandeur of Royal life ahead?).
“This is certainly very different to the professional trends of straight-edged cakes we have seen recently and may mark a change where wedding cakes begin to focus on taste; It will be really interesting to see how much of the Royal Wedding cake design filters into the mainstream market, such as the flavours and the use of edible flowers.”
Ann-Marie Dunne, bakery lecturer, Dublin Institute of Technology
“The cake reflected everything about this wedding – it was never going to be ordinary and certainly was never going to be traditional. It matched the very natural flower arrangements at the church. Meghan’s taste is very subdued and natural and I think it matches her taste perfectly. It fits perfectly into their whole wedding theme.
“I’m sure every baker must be delighted to see such a simple cake as it won’t cause too much stress to recreate!
I’m not sure about the stands, however; I think they are way too fussy with the simple cake, and all I see are the cake stands. I would have preferred a stacked cake on the main mirrored stand.
“The use of fresh flowers is questionable directly on the cake, but I’m sure these are organic and pesticide-free! Americans love buttercream and with the flavour combinations I’m sure it tasted lovely too.”
Lisa Boswell, trade marketing manager, CSM Bakery Solutions
“The Royal cake was a truly beautiful creation. The breathtaking design and flavour combinations produced a masterpiece.
“The delicate ingredients were perfect for a spring wedding and the peonies, white and cream roses finished it off beautifully.
“A huge round of applause goes to Claire Ptak. She got it just right.”