The wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is fast approaching, and word is out that the royal wedding cake is set to be a elderflower and lemon cake, covered in buttercream and dressed in fresh flowers. Moist elderflower drizzle sponge, covered with vanilla buttercream and beautiful fresh flowers. Take a look at the recipe below, and make yourself a wedding cake quite fit for a princess!
- Cooks measure
- Tsp measure
- Silicone headed spatula
- Cooling rack
- 4 inch Tala cake tin
- 6 inch Tala cake tin
- 8 inch Tala cake tin
- Greaseproof paper circles: 3 x 4 inch diameter, 4 x 6 inch diameter, 4 x 8 inch diameter, 1 x 10 inch
- Round foil covered cake cards: 1 x 4 inch diameter, 1 x 6 inch diameter, 1 x 8 inch diameter
- Cake tester
- Wooden cake dowels x 10
- Mini palette knife
- Flat-edge cake scraper
- Cake stand
- Sharp scissors
- Plastic drinking straws
For the cake:
- 15 free-range eggs
- 780g caster sugar
- 780g margarine
- 780g self-raising flour
- Zest of 1 lemon
- 5 free-range eggs
- 260g caster sugar
- 260g margarine
- 260g self-raising flour
- Zest one third of a lemon
For the syrup:
- 150g sugar
- 150ml water
- Elderflower cordial to taste
For the buttercream:
- 1.125kg butter
- 1.5 kg icing sugar
- 2tsp vanilla paste (with seeds)
Baking the cakesEach of the three tiers of the cake will have three layers, so it can be easier to bake one layer from each tier across three batches.
- Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celsius (302 degrees Fahrenheit).
- Set out the cake tins and line each with a greaseproof paper circle.
- Cream sugar and margarine thoroughly, add eggs and lemon zest, mixing to as smooth a consistency as possible (don't worry if it seems lumpy) and finally add the flour. Continue mixing until the mixture is smooth.
- Divide the mixture between the tins, trying to ensure that the mixture reaches roughly the same height in each tin.
- Bake for 20 minutes, then rotate the tins and bake for a further 20 minutes. After this, check the cakes every 5 minutes until they are risen, spring back in the centre when pressed or a cake tester inserted into the middle appears to be clean when removed from the cake.
- Remove from the oven and allow to cool on a baking rack. Peel off the greaseproof paper circles when the cakes have cooled.
- When cool, level the tops of the cakes, keeping the level the same so that each cut slice of cake will look the same. The Tala cake measure should be set to, or close to, level 7.
Making the sugar syrup
- Half fill the Cooks' Measure with sugar (150g if you are using scales) and empty into a saucepan. Fill the Cooks' Measure with water to the same level (150ml if you are using a measuring jug) and place in the pan with the sugar.
- Heat gently until the crystals dissolve.
- When cool, add elderflower cordial to taste.
- Ladle over the cut surface of each cake. Try to make sure the whole surface of each cake is covered.
- While the cakes are cooling, soften the butter in the microwave (or keep in a warm place) until very soft and cream with the icing sugar and vanilla in a counter-top mixer until smooth and pale. Cover until needed.
Constructing each tierThis process will be done upside down so that each cake has a nice flat top. When the cakes are firm after chilling, they will be flipped right side up.
- Place a greaseproof paper circle larger than the cake you are about to work on on a flat surface, the removable base of a cake tin makes a good base. (If you are working on the top tier, use a 6-inch diameter paper circle and so on). Use a mini palette knife to spread a circle just larger than the top of the cake onto the greaseproof circle.
- Place one of the trimmed cakes on top, spread with buttercream, place another cake on top and repeat until all three layers are stacked on top of each other, finishing with a silver cake card 'glued' on top with a scraping of buttercream.
- Use a mini palette knife to neaten any excess buttercream by scraping it upwards onto the cake (this will be very difficult to do when the icing is solid) . Chill until firm (about an hour).
- Place each cake on a cake turntable and use a mini palette knife to spread buttercream on the sides of the cake. Use a cake scraper to smooth the icing, so that the 'walls' of the cake are nice and straight. Chill again.
- Repeat twice so that the sponge cake is barely visible and the buttercream 'walls' have become quite thick. Return the cakes to the fridge.
- Turn the cakes the right way round and peel off the paper circles. Then put the paper circle on the circular base and sit the cake on top, right way round. (The paper will stop the cake sticking to the base.)
- Use the palette knife to apply a generous load of buttercream to the sides of the cake and use the cake scraper to scrape and drag the icing into lots of vertical crags and crannies. Return the cakes to the fridge.
Building the cakeThe middle and bottom tiers will need to be dowelled to support the weight of the cake. You will need four dowels in the top tier and 6 in the bottom tier. Clean garden secateurs make short work of cutting the dowels.
- Remove the two bigger cakes from the fridge and, taking each cake in turn, sink one dowel into the cake until it hits the flat surface at the bottom.
- Mark the point where the dowel emerges from the cake and cut each dowel to exactly the same length. Sink all of the dowels into the cake and return to the fridge until you are ready to finally put it all together.
- Place the bottom cake on the cake stand and carefully life the medium size cake onto it as centrally as possible (if the cake is cold enough, you can quickly do this with your hands. If not, use a large palette knife or cake lifter). Place the smallest cake on top.
- If you have plenty of vertical fridge space, you might want to return the cake to the fridge at this stage.
Decorating the cakeAvoid sticking plant stems directly into the cake by making home-made flower 'picks'. All that is needed is a pair of sharp scissors and some drinking straws. You can, of course, buy ready-made flower picks if you prefer.
- Cut several short lengths of drinking straw, making sure that each has a pointed end and a flat end.
- Use uncut straws to gouge out sections of cake wherever you would like a pick (simply push the straw into the cake and remove it, so that a small cylinder of cake is removed, leaving a hole for the pick). Sink the picks into the holes you have made on alternating sides at the base each tier so that you can place the stems of the flowers inside. You may need to use several in the same spot, so place them as you go, so you don't end up with unnecessary holes in the cake.
- Take each flower and snip off its head, leaving at least 2cm of stem. Lay them out in groups so that you can easily see which flowers you have to work with.
- Starting at the very top of the cake, use flower picks to arrange the biggest flowers all over the cake. Then add smaller or medium flowers next to them and then finally soften and fill out the arrangement with filler flowers and foliage.
- Check the final arrangement and view from the sides to make sure there aren't any gaps and display out of direct sunlight if possible.
- You do not need to line the tins other than with a circle of greaseproof paper in the base of each tin. You can buy these pre-cut or cut them yourself if you prefer.
- Ask your florist for flowers that are non-toxic, don't wilt quickly and within your colour theme - a mix of large and small flowers and greenery looks perfect.
- You can make your own elderflower syrup from scratch if you wish, but if elderflowers are not ready in your area, buy a good quality elderflower cordial. Bear in mind that you may need to add quite a lot of cordial to ensure that the taste comes through.
- Keep your buttercream as soft as you can – easy in warm weather, but if it's a cold day, you may need to loosen it by heating gently in the microwave on 'low' for 5 seconds at a time.
- If you don't have a cake stand, consider a log slice for that rustic look! Make sure the slice is cut carefully and a spirit level used to ensure it is perfectly level.