Saturday wasn’t just a big day for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. It was a day to shine for Claire Ptak, the American baker in London who made the royal wedding cake.
Judging by the photos posted by Kensington Palace, the lemon-elderflower cake looked delicious. Moreover, it has made Ptak and her bakery, Violet Cakes, a household name among people who follow the royal family. But, the publicity did more than that. Ptak’s cake, with its unusual flavor for a royal wedding cake, has already spawned a flood of variations by bakeries in both Britain and the United States.
Even before the wedding, Bywater Bakery in New Orleans posted its photo of a lemon-elderflower cake on Instagram. Not to be outdone, Sucre, a New Orleans boutique bakery, showed off the lemon-elderflower drink that it added to its menu. By Sunday afternoon, there were 364 Instagram posts tagged #lemonelderflowercake and another 545 tagged #lemonelderflower, plus 27 tagged #lemonelderflowercupcakes.
I tried my hand Friday night at a lemon-elderflower cake, using a Meyer lemon mix from Trader Joe’s as the base, and a buttercream flavored with St. Germain, an elderflower liquor. It was an instant hit and is pretty much gone now (I kept one slice back for a Sunday treat). Lemon-elderflower, and just plain elderflower, has been slowly creeping onto dessert and drinks menus, but the royal wedding is likely to give it a strong boost as a flavor trend.
Anything elderflower seems to be a little more common in the U.K. than in the U.S. In 2016, Andrew Smyth, a finalist on that season’s Great British Bake Off, made an elderflower cake during Botanical Week. Ian Cumming, a contestant on The Great British Bake Off, has a recipe for Elderflower and Lemon Buns on the BBC website. Americans might be familiar with elderflower from the cordials that many home cooks make from elderflowers, especially in the South. And, it’s popping up in prepared soft drinks, like Belvoir Fruit Farm’s Elderflower Cordial.
So, you can expect lemon-elderflower to soon join lavender, turmeric and other garden-inspired flavors at your coffee bar, bakery or cafe. You also might see some other trends from the menu for the royal wedding reception, which Kensington Palace released on Saturday. One notable feature: bowl foods. These are not the monster poke bowls or burrito bowls that you might spot in any hipster neighborhood. Bowl foods, or more properly, bowl appetizers, are small appetizers that are served in little bowls, usually with a fork or spoon. They’re a little messier than one-bite appetizers, which have swept the catering world, but they allow caterers to do something a little more creative than a square of pull pastry with some mozzarella and pesto.
In Harry and Meghan’s case, the bowl appetizers were:
- Fricassee of Free Range Chicken with Morel Mushrooms and Young Leeks
- Pea and Mint Risotto with Pea Shoots, Truffle Oil and Parmesan Crisps
- 10-Hour Slow-Roasted Windsor Pork Belly with Apple Compote and Crackling
There were plenty of passed appetizers, and some other desserts besides the wedding cake (the palace called them “sweet canapes”). They were champagne and pistachio macaroons, orange crème brûlée tartlets, and miniature rhubarb crumble tartlets. The reception didn’t lack for beverages. Harry and Meghan served Pol Roger Brut Réserve Non Vintage Champagne, other wines and soft drinks. And, in harmony with the flavor theme, there was an apple and elderflower non-alcoholic drink, made with the same elderflower syrup that Ptak used in the cake. So, heads up this spring and summer as you stop for some refreshment. You can have your own royal wedding reception, minus Amal Clooney and Serena Williams, of course.