Fans of British royalty can read all they want about the April 29 wedding of HRH Prince William and Kate Middleton, from books like The Making of a Royal Romance to Harlequin’s new Royal Wedding e-book collection, but cookbook readers may be interested in learning about the event from a different perspective. As befits a royal wedding, there will be more than one cake for guests to enjoy on William and Kate’s big day: Leicestershire-based cake designer Fiona Cairns will create one, and McVitie's Cake Company will create another. And as befits this newsletter, both cakes have cookbook connections.
Cairns, who’s made cakes for Bono, Paul McCartney, and other stars, is the author of Bake & Decorate: Charming Cakes, Cupcakes & Cookies for Every Occasion, which Rodale published in the U.S. last November. For the royal wedding, Cairns will make a multi-tiered traditional fruit cake decorated with cream and white icing. Reports say it will have a British floral theme (think Liberty fabrics done in sugar, perhaps?), with intricate piped borders on a fondant-covered cake. Although Bake & Decorate has many approachable, unfussy cakes, bakers keen on recreating Will and Kate’s cake might try the crystallized flowers and leaves, made with edible flowers, egg white, and superfine sugar; or the fondant roses, which require “no special equipment, just a bit of patience and perseverance.”
And then there’s the groom’s cake (of sorts). McVitie’s, which is part of the British conglomerate United Biscuits Group, has been making wedding and christening cakes for members of the Royal family since the marriage of His Majesty King George V to HM Queen Mary. For this wedding, McVitie’s will make a chocolate biscuit cake specially requested by Prince William. It so happens that the Queen is the one who introduced William to this cake (she likes to eat a slice with her Earl Gray tea), and in his book Eating Royally: Recipes and Remembrances from a Palace Kitchen (Thomas Nelson), Darren McGrady, who was Princess Diane’s personal chef, shares the recipe. It appears below, courtesy of the author.
Chocolate Biscuit Cake
Makes 1 cake – 10 portions
Her Majesty the Queens favorite afternoon tea cake by far. This cake is probably the only one that is sent into the Royal dining room again and again until it has all gone.
4 ounces dark chocolate.(for the cake)
4 ounces granulated sugar
4 ounces unsalted butter (softened)
8 ounces Rich tea biscuits
½ teaspoon butter for greasing
8 ounces dark chocolate (for coating)
1 ounce chocolate (for decoration)
1. Lightly grease a 6 inch by 2 ½ inch cake ring and place on a tray on a sheet of parchment paper.
2. Break each of the biscuits into almond size pieces by hand and set aside.
3. Cream the butter and sugar in a bowl until the mixture starts to lighten.
4. Melt the 4 ounces of chocolate and add to the butter mixture whilst constantly stirring.
5. Beat in the egg to the mixture.
6. Fold in the biscuit pieces until they are all coated with the chocolate mixture.
7. Spoon the mixture into the prepared cake ring. Try to fill all of the gaps on the bottom of the ring because this will be the top when it is un-molded.
8. Chill the cake in the refrigerator for at least three hours.
9. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and let it stand while you melt the 8 ounces of chocolate.
10. Slide the ring off the cake and turn it upside down onto a cake wire.
11. Pour the melted chocolate over the cake and smooth the top and sides using a palette knife.
12. Allow the chocolate to set at room temperature.
13. Carefully run a knife around the bottom of the cake where the chocolate has stuck it to the cake wire and lift it onto a tea plate.
14. Melt the remaining 1 ounce of chocolate and use to decorate the top of the cake.