It was recently announced that Prince William and Catherine had selected Fiona Cairns as their wedding cake designer. The cake will be a multi-tiered traditional fruit cake with cream and white icing. The decoration on the cake will include several symbolic flowers to represent the four home nations including the English rose, Scottish thistle, Welsh daffodil, and Irish shamrock. In addition, the design will also include the flower, Sweet William. No doubt a nod to the Prince.
The couple has also asked the McVitie’s Cake Company to create a chocolate biscuit cake for the reception at Buckingham Palace. The chocolate biscuit cake was often made for Prince William when he was a child by Darren McGrady, who was the personal chef to Princess Diana. A chocolate biscuit cake is very similar to the American cookies and cream icebox cake. They are generally made by creating a chocolate butter mousse and adding crushed cookies (biscuits) and placing the whole mixture into a refrigerator until firm.
Both selections give a nod to Prince William’s parents as Lady Diana and Prince Charles also had a multi tiered fruit cake at their wedding. It was created by David Avery who was the head baker at the Royal Naval cooking school. The cake was decorated with royal icing and featured the Windsor royal coat of arms, the prince's coat of arms, an ornamental "C" and "D", Lady Diana’s family crest and dozens of flowers.
Mr. Avery said that the cake took 14 weeks to create. Several of the weeks were of course devoted to the design research and how the cake should be constructed. Fruitcake was selected as it could be prepared in advance and keep very well. Mr. Avery used a recipe of his mothers that was adapted for size. The bottom layer took 12 hours to bake. The finished cake weighed 255 pounds and stood over 5 ft. tall. The baker made two identical cakes, just in case one was damaged in transit. The original cake was delivered unscathed and the remaining cake was cute up and each trainee received two pieces~ one for themselves and one for their mother. Mr. Avery never ate a final slice of cake, although he did say he sampled a few bits as he was making the cake.
The second tier of the cake was saved and served at Prince William's christening the following year. This is customary in England. In America newlyweds often save their top tier to eat on their first anniversary.
There were of course several other cakes made for the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana. The number on average is reported at 27 cakes total. The cake below was made for the couple by Classic Celebration Cakes.
Various cake makers delivered their designs to Buckingham Palace I imagine in the hopes of possibly being selected for future royal events. This will probably hold true for the wedding of Prince William and Catherine as well.
So what does the palace do with all the extra cake? It is nicely packaged up and a piece is given to each guest at the reception, in addition to the all those who assist with the production of the wedding ~ including Palace workers. Here is how the cake was packaged for Prince Charles and Lady Diana’s wedding. Recently a former Royal servant, Moyra Smith, auctioned off a piece of cake she had received and it sold for $1830.00.
A few years later when Prince Charles’ brother, Prince Andrew married Sarah Ferguson their cake was created by David Cakes.
But the cake that truly “takes the cake” is that of the confection served at the wedding of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip. Due to wartime rationing, the ingredients were given by Australian Girl Guides (Scouts). The cake featured four tiers and was over nine feet high. Decorated with Royal icing the design featured hundreds of filigree curves that were likened to turrets on the Royal family’s beloved Scottish castles.
Prince William is not the first to request a cake made by McVitie. In 1934 when the Duke of Kent married Princess Marina of Greece their cake was made by Messrs, McVitie and Price. Garlands of flowers were draped over the large cake layers. The tiers were supported on the cake with Grecian styled pillars in honor of the bride's nationality.
Princess Victoria (Queen Victoria’s eldest child) and Crown Prince Frederick William ‘Fritz’ of Prussia wed in 1858. Their cake had a very Neo Classical look.
The wedding cake as we know it really came into vogue in the 1700's. The multi tiered cakes were made with fruit to symbolize fertility. It should be noted that at this time perishables were extremely expensive. Refined white sugar was one of the most expensive items of all. The traditional white wedding cake was not a symbol of purity and virginity but rather a sign of a family's wealth. The thick icing now known as Royal icing gained its name when it was used on the wedding cake of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Mr. John Mauditt, Queen Victoria’s confectioner at Buckingham Palace, made the wedding cake. It measured over 9 feet in circumference and weighed more than 300 pounds. The figure of Britannia was placed on the top of the cake to symbolically bless the bride and groom. It also featured bouquets of white flowers tied with lovers knots made with white satin ribbon. These were later given as gifts to the guests at the wedding breakfast.
If you plan on having a party to celebrate the Royal Wedding you may want to make chef Darren McGrady’s recipe for Chocolate Biscuit Cake. It can be found in his cookbook “ Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen” .
I’d love to hear about your favorite cake.