We have all been anticipating the Royal Wedding that was this weekend, the dress, the flowers, the guests and of course, the wedding cake.
We have both been waiting to see the lemon and elderflower wedding cake made by Claire Ptak from Violet Cakes in London and on Saturday that day came.
The cake was a 4 tiered cake, as a contemporary instillation, broken down into 3 sections. The cake was a lemon sponge cake, filled with lemon curd and elderflower Swiss meringue buttercream, rustically covered in the Swiss meringue buttercream and decorated with white peonies and white garden roses.
And whilst the cake was beautiful, we felt like we could create something similar. So that is exactly what we are about to do! This blog post may be a little bit different to what we normally do but we thought it would be loads of fun for us to do and with wedding season here – perhaps it would be something for you guys to try out yourselves. If you or a friend wants to save a little cash on their wedding day, why not try this? (If you have time!!!) It may seem a lot of work, but wedding cakes can cost hundreds, even thousands of pounds and this cake is really simple to make. Or maybe even a smaller version for a summer party would be easier.
The Royal Wedding Cake was said to have cost a whopping total of £50,000, made from 500 Suffolk organic eggs, 20kg butter, 20kg sugar, 200 Amalfi lemons and 10 bottles of elderflower cordial made in Sandringham. Yet we are going to try and recreate it (as best as we can) for under £50.
Using the very few photos that were released we have deconstructed the cake to:
1 x deep 12″ cake
1 x 10″ cake
1 x deep 8″ cake
1 x 8″ cake
So we plan to make alllll the cake and soak it in elderflower & lemon syrup, fill it with a homemade lemon curd & elderflower Italian meringue buttercream.
Harry & Meghan went for a far more modern wedding cake, a cake that most people would dream to have at their own wedding this summer – and most importantly a cake that the guests will actually eat. There is nothing worse than a fruit cake covered in marzipan and fondant icing (in our opinion).
- 2000g Stork
- 3600g caster sugar
- 36 eggs
- 2200ml milk
- 3000g flour
- 8 tbsp baking powder
- 4 tsp salt
- 100g sugar
- 250g elderflower cordial
- zest & juice 5 lemons
- juice & zest of 10 lemons
- 160g butter
- 400g sugar
- 8 egg yolks
- 2 eggs
- 24 egg whites
- 1050g granulated sugar
- 375ml water
- 200ml elderflower cordial
- 1350g butter
- Firstly mix the cake batter together, we had to split ours into 4 to be able to fit into our stand mixer
- Cream together the butter and sugar on high speed for a few minutes, the mixture should become light and fluffy
- Add the eggs one at a time until fully incorporated
- In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Alternate adding the flour and milk to the mixer
- A full quarter batch of the mixture is enough for 1 x 2" deep 12" tin, you will be needing two of these cakes, meaning half the mixture will be making one big 12" cake. The other two batches were split between 3 x 8" tins and 1 x 10" tin
- Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan except the eggs, bring the mixture to a boil
- Whisk together the eggs, add a small amount of the hot curd to the eggs, then pour the remaining eggs into the saucepan
- Continue to heat the curd until it thickens, pour into a bowl and cover with cling film. Leave in the fridge to set
- Put all the ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to the boil
- Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes before setting aside to cool
- In order to allow the mixture to fit into the mixer, we did this in 3 batches, place the egg whites in the bowl of your stand mixer
- Place the sugar and water in a pan on a high heat, monitoring the temperature as it starts to bubble
- When the temperature reaches 110C turn the whisk to full speed to get the egg whites to stiff peaks
- When the temperature of the syrup reaches 118C, remove from the heat and pour in a slow and steady stream into the egg white, continuing to whisk on full speed, then continue whisking until there is no heat at all left in the meringue, you can check this by placing you hands on the outside of the bowl and feeling if there is any warmth, this should take about 10 minutes
- Once the meringue is cool, place in the softened butter a tablespoon at a time and whisk for about 3-5 minutes until you have a smooth whipped texture, then add the elderflower cordial and give it another quick whisk
- Trim the top layer off all of the cakes to reveal the sponge, then slice each cake in half
- Generously brush or pour the syrup over all of the cakes (we used a squeezy bottle) and leave for a couple of minutes to allow it to all soak in
- Next you'll want to assemble each cake; 4 layers of 12" cake, 2 layers of 10", 4 layers of 8" and another 2 layers of 8" cake to create your 4 cakes, set your cakes on top of cake boards (cake stands of pieces of card work fine too)
- In-between each layer of cake you will want a good amount of lemon curd, but not too much to make the layers slide, then a layer of buttercream to sandwich the layers together
- Next cover each cake in a thin layer of buttercream to 'crumb coat' the cake & refrigerate for a good 20 minutes or longer to let the buttercream set solid
- To finish the cake, slather more buttercream over each cake to create a thick layer of buttercream
- To create the effect of the Royal wedding cake, we used a turntable and a palette knife, placing the palette knife on top of the cake and spun the turntable, pressing down slightly to create a smooth circular swirl on top of the cake, next using a bench scraper, we held it against the side of the cake and spun the turntable again to smooth the sides of the cake and leave a 'lip' of buttercream around the top edge of the cake
- Refrigerate the cakes again for at least an hour to make sure the buttercream is completely set to avoid the buttercream from melting or getting ruined
- We used a selection of stands and plates to set up our 'instillation' in a similar sort of arrangement, placing the 10" cake at the back on a high stand, the deep 8" cake to the right hand centre and the 12" cake at the front left with the smaller 8" cake set on top*
- Finally we arranged as many flowers we could fit around and on top of the cakes, including a few small stands stacked on top of each other on the centre left of the cakes to add a little more variation (similar to the Royal one)
- *we placed wooden dowels in our 12" cake to prevent the 8"cake caving in on the cake below, you don't want to risk your cake collapsing!
Lets do a little comparison of ingredients shall we?
Judging from the amount used at the Royal wedding we can assume that the cake we saw was not the only cake that was made. Either additional cakes were made and the best were picked or sheet cakes were made to feed all 600 guests. The cake we have made would happily feed 200 guests at a wedding, so what about the other 400? this would then mean 3 times the amount of cake would have been needed, leading to 9.15kg butter, 15.45kg sugar, 186 eggs, 9kg flour, 45 lemons and 3 bottles of elderflower cordial.
Still a little different, however, judging from the quantities the Royal wedding cake is making a traditional Victoria sponge recipe for their sponge, leading to equal weights in butter, sugar and flour. We chose to go for an american style birthday cake sponge which is slightly more sturdy than a Victoria sponge, which contains a lot of milk, substituting other ingredients. We are also going to guess that a lot more lemons were used due to the sponge being a lemon sponge – we chose not to add lemon to our sponge and make a lemon syrup instead, giving each layer a generous soaking in syrup before icing. This way we would save on the cost and keep the cake moist – we don’t have 600 guests to feed, it needs to last longer than a day!
From videos and photos we have seen, Ptak sliced the cake (or baked) into thin layers and built the cake, curd and buttercream layers into a lined tin, then turned it out. We trimmed and sliced each of our cakes into two layers and built them all free hand, we then crumb coated each cake and let them set in the fridge for an hour before generously lathering on even more Italian meringue buttercream. Ptak chose a rustic appearance of the buttercream instead of making it perfectly smooth – a method we can both get on board with (it’s so much easier and quicker!). We chose to do Italian meringue buttercream for ours where as Ptak used Swiss meringue, this is only because Italian is a method we are both used to and fond of – I’m sure Ptak feels that way about Swiss. The overall texture and taste of the two is pretty much the same, Italian used a hot sugar syrup where as Swiss heats the eggs and sugar over a bain marie.
So our total shop at Sainsbury’s came to £31.35, leaving us £18.65 to spend on flowers… so far the £50 budget isn’t going too well, but it’s still A LOT further away than £50,000.
We went to the florist to pick up a lovely bouquet of flowers, but with a budget of under £20 the choices were slim – we asked about peonies but they didn’t have any and we knew we wouldn’t have any money left for anything else. We we also informed that peonies don’t last well in this weather and the last thing we want is for them to look sad on our cake.
Next stop, Waitrose, we were looking for a small bouquet of large white or cream flowers and maybe something green to add a little colour? Gypsophila could work (aka Baby’s breath) or fresh elderflower would be excellent (and appropriate). We found a bunch of large oriental lilies for £7.50, sprayed carnations for £3.25 and white chrysanthemums for £3.25, coming to a total of £14 – we were below budget!!!! We have a spare £4.65 to treat ourselves with….
Final stop, the garden. To save a few $$$ we decided to forage for a few flowers. We were now down to anything white and cream, flowers are flowers and when you’re on a budget this tight, comparing any flowers to the Royal Wedding isn’t going to hold up… Oh how we scavenged! We found a selection of Hawthorn, Lily of the Vally, Geranium, plus some other things we don’t know the names of!
The final verdict
WE DID IT! We made The Royal Wedding Cake for under £50 (£45.35 to be exact). We can’t say it was the exact same cake (it wasn’t) but we are pretty damn proud and it tastes fantastic! We also think the over £45,950 were spent on the 6 staffs wages over 5 days (YES 5 DAYS IT TOOK US 2, LEISURELY) plus perhaps the fabulous gold stands that the cake was placed on, we didn’t have any of those lying about, surprisingly. We went for a more modern take of balancing precariously; vases, cake stands, plates, bowls, trifle dishes, candle holders, cake tins, ribbon and whatever else we had in the cupboard…
We make bespoke wedding cakes, get in touch if you would like a quote on firstname.lastname@example.org