There are few confections lovelier than a wedding cake, and few occasions
more tender than the moment when your new spouse crams a too-large bite
of that cake into your face at the reception, leaving you to wonder
what the next 50 years hold in store. While it's not likely that the newly minted Princess Catherine will be wiping an excess of buttercream
off her face on Friday, the cake itself is likely to be one of the more
memorable desserts anyone's seen in a while.
Last February, the engaged couple contacted English cake baker Fiona Cairns and asked her to design the cake for their wedding. Cairns, 56, runs a thriving business designing and baking thousands of cakes yearly for several high end retailers in the UK, which caused some slightly ruffled feathers among the cake-meisters who weren't chosen. Said one, "I'm surprised they've chosen someone who designs cakes for a supermarket."
Ms. Cairns began her business at her kitchen table 25 years ago. Her husband, who is now managing director of the company, spotted the potential, and today Fiona Cairns Ltd makes 27,000 cakes per week. Cairns is trained as a graphic designer as well as a pastry chef, and the cakes, which are made with the highest quality local ingredients, are visually stunning, all of which explains their upmarket appeal.
Waitrose Vintage Fairy Tale Wedding Cake
This particular wedding cake will be multi-tiered, with each tier having a different theme expressed through the use of flowers. The flowers, all of which will be native to the British Isles and all of which will have some traditional, cultural or personal significance for the couple, will be painstakingly created from sugar paste, and the base icing will be a neutral ground of cream and white.
Underneath all of this icing is fruitcake, which is an English wedding tradition. Cairns has said that the assorted dried fruits will have been soaked in brandy, and the fruitcakes will have been made four weeks beforehand so that they can age properly. The reported price tag for this cake is a whopping $80,000 - a rich dessert by anyone's standards.
And just in case fruitcake isn't your cup of tea, Prince William has requested a groom's cake based on a childhood favorite. Known as a "fridge cake" (it's unbaked), in its simplest form it seems to be a mixture of crushed cookies (or biscuits as they call them over there, in this case 1700 McVitie's Rich Tea biscuits), nuts, raisins, and melted chocolate. While this isn't going to have the visual appeal or the sophistication of the multi-tiered star of the show (the groom's cake is being made by McVitie's), it sounds a bit like sweet, sweet comfort food, which isn't a bad thing at all after a stressful week of wedding preparations.