No dessert has received more attention lately than the cake that will be on display at the May 19 wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. All we know is American expat Claire Ptak, owner of Violet bakery in London, is making a lemon elderflower cake that will be decorated with buttercream and fresh flowers.
Could I come up with my own version of the royal wedding cake for us commoners?
Using recipes that I adapted from Ptak’s 2015 cookbook, “The Violet Bakery Cookbook,” the answer was a resounding yes. Even better, I adjusted the elements to create a layer cake that even less-experienced bakers could conquer.
One adjustment I made for my own sanity was baking three thin cake layers rather than the tall single cake Ptak says to make in a 3-inch-deep pan. First of all, I don’t own one of those, and second, I’ve never been good at slicing cakes evenly. Bonus: Thin cakes bake and cool faster.
You could certainly make the cake and the frosting — a simple powdered sugar and butter combination — put them together and call it a day. (If you don’t own one, a small offset spatula will earn its very cheap price for frosting and filling this cake, not to mention many other kitchen tasks.)
For an amped-up filling, use lemon curd (homemade, if you’re up for it) instead of frosting. Or go up one more level by mixing it with whipped cream, as I recommend here.
You can decorate this cake as much or as little as you want. A pristine white cake is timeless. No fancy cake tools? Grab a spoon and spin a swirl into the top, or cut the corner of a food-safe zip-top bag to pipe dollops around the edge. Use store-bought candied lemon slices or peel for added pizazz.
In the spirit of the actual royal wedding cake, I decorated this version with edible flowers. Be sure you source flowers that have been specifically grown for culinary use. You can sometimes find them in the produce section of grocery stores. I crystallized some of the flowers and combined them with other fresh ones, gently pressing both types into the top and then in a cascade down the side of the cake. If you just want to use fresh flowers, that would be lovely, too.
A note on ingredients: I found Belvoir Fruit Farms elderflower cordial (nonalcoholic), used for brushing the cake layers, at World Market. It can also be ordered from various sites online. (The brand’s products are also carried at Whole Foods.) Ikea sells an elderflower syrup, as well. For additional elderflower flavor in the cake and frosting, I used St-Germain liqueur, but you can leave it out or use the cordial instead.
The baked, cooled cake layers that have been brushed with cordial can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for several days or frozen for up to several weeks. You can refrigerate the buttercream several days in advance, too. Smooth out the chilled frosting with a stir by hand or mixer. The frosted and decorated cake can be refrigerated overnight in a cake caddie, under a cake dome or very loosely tented with plastic wrap.