Industry experts tell British Baker what the royal couple’s unconventional celebration cake choice could spell for future baking trends and wedding cakes.
Regal twosome Harry and Meghan have eschewed royal tradition and picked a delicately arranged lemon elderflower cake for their upcoming May wedding. A multi-tiered fruit cake has been the British monarchy standard for the past few centuries, so that even when chocolate digestive fanatic Prince William opted for a McVitie’s ‘groom’s cake’ at the last royal nuptials, it was presented alongside a fruit cake.
Baker Claire Ptak – of Hackney store the Violet Bakery – was asked by the royal couple to craft a cake incorporating “the bright flavours of spring”. Ptak opted for an organic lemon elderflower cake, covered in buttercream, crowned with icing pearls and adorned with fresh flowers.
Here, industry experts give their insights on the upcoming cake, and how the royal couple’s unusual choice will affect baking business trends over the next few months.
John Slattery, Slattery Patisserie and Chocolatier, Manchester
“Any royal wedding gives the creative bakery sector an opportunity to make some wedding-related products that will sell. Lemon elderflower cake flavour is ‘on trend’ and we expect to see people asking for it, making the flavour combination very popular this year. The organic style is also in demand with a certain sector of the market, and looks likely to grow in popularity.”
Cristiana Ballarini, category marketing director, CSM
“Harry and Meghan’s cake is an indication that their wedding is going to bend traditions and follow modern trends.
“We’ve already forecast botanicals and floral decorations as big trends for this year. Lemon is a classically popular flavour in baking that has seen a resurgence in recent years, and elderflower is seeing huge growth. Both are seasonal and fit perfectly with a spring wedding. While these two flavours are growing in popularity, both individually and as a pairing in their own right, we expect the royal announcement to assist this growth.
“While there may not be a huge demand for specific replicas of the celebration cake, there is likely to be a peak of interest in the flavours and styling. Bakers can take advantage of this interest by offering miniature versions of the cake: cupcakes, traybakes, biscuits or doughnuts. Selling these in the run-up to the wedding for parties is a great way to give consumers a little taste of the royal cake in their very own homes.
“We’re seeing a rise in more sponge cakes being used for weddings, including Victoria sponge and lemon. In terms of décor, there is an increase in demand for naked or semi-naked sponges, drip cakes, and a substitute of royal icing in favour of buttercream or frosting.
“Harry and Megan themed treats will be on the rise in May as the country goes royal wedding mad – from red-haired cupcakes, to American-themed treats and doughnuts and Union Jack designs.”
Jacqui Passmore, marketing manager, Dawn Foods
“‘Naked’ cakes with a swish of buttercream are popular with today’s brides. Botanicals and fresh citrus flavours are bang on trend too across the complete bakery category. It’s all part of a big move towards more natural products as well as nostalgia in bakery – we really want to see and taste what we are eating, but also remember flavours of the past such as elderflower or lavender.
“According to Charles Spence, professor of experimental psychology at Oxford University, –who has partnered with Dawn Foods on a number of trends pieces – a bakery masterpiece should combine all the senses: sight, smell, taste and sound. All of those would be ticked with the royal wedding cake!”
Ann-Marie Dunne, bakery lecturer, Dublin Institute of Technology
“Organic-style wedding cakes are already becoming popular, but are not to everyone’s liking. People always take a look at anything different, and this royal couple are going out of the comfort zone of traditional royalty. It will be interesting to watch the reaction, as normally the royal wedding cake comes with a wow factor, and see whether an organic-style cake can achieve the same reaction. It’ll be a real wait-and-see moment!
“The royal wedding cake reflects current trends; the naked cake finish has become very popular with organic-style cake, and is very stripped back from the traditional, often very ornate, wedding cakes. Natural flavours play a major part in these organic-style wedding cakes, which now include vegan/gluten-free layers to suit trending diets. However, it’s not to everyone’s liking. There will always be a need for traditional wedding cakes
“Elderflower alongside lavender flavours have already become popular to a niche market, but don’t suit everyone’s palate. Some will love or loathe it. Lemon, however, has always been popular and always will – people never tire of the freshness of lemon. The new flavours just give customers new alternatives.
“I don’t think cake-makers can expect to be making lemon elderflower cake en masse, but it will certainly be a new product line alongside the already popular flavours such as chocolate, lemon, orange, red velvet, carrot, fruit and chocolate biscuit etc. It will be a trending flavour, which will become another choice for clients.
“Whether or not the royal wedding cake sets a trend will depend on how the finished cake looks, as it may not be to everyone’s liking.”