A Recipe Fit For A Royal Occasion

Words By Becky Krystal, The Washington Post

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 butter cream and fresh flowers.

Royal Wedding Cake

This recipe is a rich-tasting and lovely interpretation of the lemon elderflower cake that will be made by Claire Ptak and served at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.

You can decorate the cake with fresh, edible flowers (be sure they have been grown for culinary use). Candied lemon slices or peel are also options for a non-DIY garnish.

 

Ingredients

 

For the cake

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pans

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest (from 1 lemon; reserve the juice for the frosting)

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon St-Germain or other elderflower liqueur (optional)

2/3 cup whole milk

1/2 cup elderflower cordial, plus more as needed

 

 

For the filling

1 cup chilled heavy whipping cream

1/2 cup homemade or store-bought lemon curd, at room temperature

 

For the frosting

14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

4 to 5 cups confectioners’ sugar, or more as needed

7 tablespoons whole milk

1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest and 2 tablespoons juice (from 1 lemon)

1 tablespoon St-Germain or other elderflower liqueur (optional)

 

Steps

For the cake: Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Use a little butter or baker’s spray to grease three 8-inch cake pans and line the bottoms with parchment paper rounds. (If you only have one or two pans, cover the batter that’s waiting to be baked; hold at room temperature. Make sure the cake pans are cool before you reuse them, which is pretty easily done with a wash in cool water in the sink.)

 

Place the granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Use your clean fingers to rub the lemon zest into the sugar until the sugar is aromatic and moist.

 

Add the butter; beat on medium-high speed for about 3 minutes, or until the mixture is fluffy and light. Meanwhile, lightly whisk together the eggs, vanilla extract and salt in a liquid measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed to low; gradually add to the butter-sugar mixture until fully incorporated. Stop to scrape down the bowl.

 

Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a separate bowl, then add half of it to the butter mixture. Beat on low speed until just combined, then add the milk and the elderflower liqueur, if using. Beat on low speed, until well incorporated.

 

Add the remaining flour; beat on low speed until no trace of dry flour remains. Divide equally among the cake pans and smooth the tops with an offset or flexible spatula. (If you use a kitchen scale, each portion of batter should weigh about 300 grams, or about 10.5 ounces.)

 

Bake (middle rack) for 15 to 20 minutes, until the top of each cake layer springs back to the touch. The edges will be very lightly browned and starting to pull away from the sides of the pans. Cool in the pans for 15 minutes, then run a round-edged knife or offset spatula around the inside of the pans to release the layers. Invert onto a wire rack and peel off the parchment paper. Use a pastry brush or silicone brush to apply the elderflower cordial a total of four times, allowing a few minutes in between so the liquid is absorbed.

 

If you need to reuse the pans to yield a total of three layers, wash and dry the pan(s) and repeat the baking and brushing with cordial.

 

For the filling: Pour the heavy whipping cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with balloon-whisk attachment or use a handheld electric mixer. Beat on high speed until it can hold a firm peak. (Pull off the whisk attachment or beaters out and see how the cream in the bowl and on the equipment looks. If it flops over, it needs more time; if it holds its shape, you’re set.)

 

Use a flexible spatula to gently fold in half of the lemon curd, lifting cream from the bottom of the bowl over the top of the cream, rotating the bowl as you work. Be careful not to deflate the cream too much. Fold in the remaining lemon curd. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to fill the cake.

 

For the frosting: Combine the butter and 2 cups of the confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer. Beat on low speed and then increase to medium-high. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl. On medium-low speed, gradually add the milk, beating until combined.

 

Add 2 more cups of confectioners’ sugar and beat on low speed for at least 3 minutes. The mixture should be smooth. Add the lemon zest and juice and the St-Germain, if using; beat on low speed until incorporated. Continue adding more confectioners’ sugar until you get the right consistency (this can vary somewhat depending on the temperature of your kitchen and how soft the butter was initially); the frosting needs to be thin enough to spread but thick enough to not run off the cake. It’s perfectly fine to let the frosting chill for a bit in the refrigerator; you may need to briefly beat it again to smooth it back out.

 

To assemble the cake, place a dab of frosting in the middle of a 9- or 10-inch cardboard cake round (you could also just place the cake directly on a large plate, ideally with little or no rim). Place one cake layer in the center, with the cordial-soaked side facing up.

 

Use a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip or zip-top bag with one corner cut off to squeeze a border of frosting around the top of the cake, just inside the edge. This will serve as a kind of dam to hold in the filling.

 

Use an offset spatula or spoon to spread half the filling inside the ring of frosting. Place the next cake layer on top, also cordial-brushed side up. Repeat with another ring of frosting and the rest of the filling.

 

Lay the final cake layer on top. Place a small amount of frosting in a separate bowl for the crumb coat, which is a base layer of frosting that helps to seal in the crumbs and give you a smooth surface to which you can apply the rest of the frosting. Use an offset spatula or table knife to apply the thin crumb coat all over the top and sides of the cake. Transfer the cake to the refrigerator for 20 to 30 minutes, to let the crumb coat set.

 

Apply the remaining frosting to the cake, and decorate the top with crystallised and/or fresh flowers, if using. Return the cake to the refrigerator to the let the frosting firm back up, another 20 or 30 minutes.

 

Let the cake sit at room temperature for just a few minutes before cutting into slices and serving.

 

Featured Image: Stacy Zarin Goldberg, The Washington Post