An Insane Number of Lemons and 5 Other Things That Went Into Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s Wedding Cake
Ever since Meghan Markle and Prince Harry first announced they’d break with tradition and opt out of serving a fruitcake at their wedding, fans of the royal family have been interested in exactly what was going to go into their wedding cake. Ahead, find out everything there is to know about Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding cake. Learn how Meghan and Harry chose a cake (page 3), all the ingredients that went into the cake (page 4), and how you could get your hands on a slice (page 10).
1. Royal weddings usually involve a fruitcake
- Fruitcake was perfect for an era without refrigeration.
The New Yorker reports that since medieval times, all special occasions in England were celebrated with fruitcakes, which “were optimally suited to an era before refrigeration.” Vogue notes that English wedding fruitcake consists of “an elaborate mixture of re-constituted dried fruits, which have been soaked in fruit juices and an alcoholic beverage such as port, sherry, rum, or even whiskey.”
The publication goes on: “To these, a dark brown sugar is added, together with a mix of fragrant spices, butter, and flour.” Bakers would cover the cake with a layer of marzipan and then a layer of royal icing, which made the cake beautiful to look at (but not particularly delicious to eat).
Next: This is what Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s baker thinks of fruitcake.
2. Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s baker referred to fruitcake as ‘a cruel joke’
- Baker Claire Ptak’s cakes are made to eat.
Ready to kick the tradition of fruitcake to the curb? So were Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. And Claire Ptak, the baker whom the couple chose to make their wedding cake, got right on board. Ptak told The New Yorker that she grew up thinking “fruitcake was sort of a cruel joke.” She made the couple a lemon and elderflower cake covered in buttercream and decorated with fresh flowers.
But as The New Yorker put it before the wedding day even arrived, “Unlike the monumental confections of yore, which were so solid that brides needed a special saw to make the first cut, Ptak’s cakes are designed to eat, not to keep.”
Next: The bride and groom chose a cake in much the same way as other couples.
3. Meghan and Harry tried several flavors before choosing
- Prince Harry and Meghan Markle liked the seasonality of the lemon and elderflower.
The pressure may have been on when Meghan Markle and Prince Harry were planning their royal wedding. But at least they got to enjoy what’s traditionally one of the sweetest parts of the process: tasting wedding cake samples. As Claire Ptak told The Telegraph, the couple tried a number of different cake samples before settling on the combination of lemon and elderflower.
“They loved it,” Ptak said of the tasting. “They tried quite a collection. What they said to me is that they really loved the idea of the seasonality and the freshness.”
Next: This is one of the seasonal ingredients that the wedding cake included.
4. Ptak used organic Amalfi lemons for the cake
- Amalfi lemons are sweeter and larger than lemons most people use.
Tasked with baking a cake that showed off the “bright flavours of spring,” Ptak developed a lemon elderflower recipe for the royal wedding. And as you might imagine, getting the right lemons was key to pulling it off. Amalfi lemons come from, you guessed it, Italy’s Amalfi coast. And The Guardian reports that “the Amalfi lemon is widely regarded by cooks as the prince among lemons, rivaled only by its Sicilian brethren.”
Amalfi lemons taste sweeter and more delicate — and grow larger — than the lemons you’re probably used to. They’re also less acidic, with The New York Times reporting that they’re so sweet you could eat them whole. House Beautiful reports that Ptak used 200 lemons for the wedding cake. And that’s not the only ingredient she used in large quantities.
Next: The baker needed a huge amount of this ingredient.
5. The cake also included 500 organic eggs
- Ptak used several organic ingredients.
In addition to the 200 lemons that Ptak incorporated into the cake, she had to use other ingredients in large quantities to serve 600 guests at the wedding reception at St. George’s Hall. First on the list? 500 organic eggs. As Elle reports, Ptak is “all about the organic life.”
She routinely uses organic flour, sugar, milk, and eggs in the cakes and other goodies that she prepares at Violet Bakery, the establishment that she owns in East London. Many of her other ingredients are organic, too, ranging from Madagascar vanilla pods to pure cane molasses.
Next: Ptak also had to order large quantities of these ingredients.
6. Ptak also used huge amounts of butter, flour, and sugar
- The cake had to feed 600 guests.
To make a cake that will feed 600 people, you would definitely need more than just a couple pounds of butter, flour, or sugar. But the sheer volume of ingredients that Ptak needed on hand to prepare the royal wedding cake just might surprise you.
According to House Beautiful, the baker needed 20 kilograms of butter, 20 kilograms of flour, and 20 kilograms of sugar to prepare the cake. That converts to just over 44 pounds of each of those ingredients. And that’s on top of the lemons and eggs that Ptak folded into the batter — as well as the addition of a very special ingredient you can learn about next.
Next: This special ingredient added a spring flavor to the wedding cake.
7. She also incorporated English elderflower
- The elderflower came from Queen Elizabeth’s Sandringham estate.
The Independent named elderflower as one of Ptak’s go-to seasonal flavors. Citing her “passion for seasonal ingredients,” the publication explains that Ptak “might use elderflowers, gooseberries, and Alphonso Mango in springtime; Kentish cherries and Dorset blueberries in the summer; figs or Fragola grapes from Italy in autumn, along with local apples and quinces; and blood oranges, clementines, and grapefruit in winter.”
Ptak used 10 bottles of elderflower cordial in Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding cake, according to House Beautiful. And the baker didn’t source that cordial from just anywhere. According to the publication, it came from the queen’s Sandringham estate. That sounds like the perfect finishing touch to the cake: a lemon sponge cake with elderflower lemon syrup drizzle, Amalfi lemon curd, and a Swiss meringue buttercream with elderflower.
Next: Ptak and her staff baked the cake at this royal kitchen.
8. The cake came together at Buckingham Palace
- Ptak and her team added the finishing touches at Windsor Castle.
Violet Bakery is a famously small space, with Food52 reporting that “it looks like a country cottage on an otherwise nondescript Hackney street.” But Ptak didn’t have to make the royal wedding cake in her own kitchen. Instead, she and her staff did the baking at Buckingham Palace.
Ptak said, “We’ve been so lucky to work at Buckingham Palace, to bake the cake and ice the cakes.” After those tasks were done, Ptak and her team packed up and headed to the wedding venue. The morning of the wedding, they assembled the cake at Windsor Castle. There, they added edible rose petal decorations and otherwise put the finishing touches on the cake — including a very non-traditional layout, at least as far as the royal family is concerned.
Next: The cake broke with tradition thanks to its shape.
9. Ptak went with a non-traditional shape for the cake
- The separate tiers are becoming more popular.
As Delish reports, it’s not just the flavor of wedding cake that Meghan Markle and Prince Harry chose that breaks with royal traditions. The cake’s shape broke with tradition, as well, in that it didn’t tower over guests with tier after tier of cake and icing.
The confection consisted of two one-tier cakes and one two-tier cake. Each one was decorated with peonies, garden roses, and greenery and displayed on its own pedestal. Delish noted, “Even though serving un-stacked tiers of wedding cake is a total departure from the tiered fruitcakes traditionally served at royal weddings, this trend has caught on in the U.S. in recent years.” And if we had to guess, you’ll probably see it at more weddings in the future as brides and grooms take their cues from Meghan and Harry.
Next: You might be able to buy a slice if the cake is like other royal wedding cakes.
10. Maybe you’ll eventually be able to buy a piece
- Slices from other royal wedding cakes have sold at auctions.
There are no guarantees, but it’s possible that in the future, you might be able to buy a piece of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s wedding cake. As NPR reports, slices of cake from iconic royal weddings — Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince William and Kate Middleton, Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, plus Princess Anne and Captain Mark Phillips — recently came up for sale at Julien’s Auctions.
Of course, fruitcakes last longer in the freezer than a lemon sponge probably would. But it’s possible that a slice of cake from Meghan and Harry’s wedding will make its way to an auction house at some point in the future.
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