Posts tagged #Royal Wedding Cake

How a Great Fire and an Innovative Architect Inspired the Tiered Royal Wedding Cakes of Kate Middleton and Prince William

The latest royal wedding news from Windsor is that the famed English Queen of Cakes, Fiona Cairns, will be creating the sure to be grand cakes (yes, cakes, as in plural plus) for Kate and William’s Upcoming April 29th princey wedding.

No one could be a better creative choice for what will surely be a towering culinary masterpiece of sugar spun and sweet rich cake. Though Fiona Cairns started her business 25 years ago on her kitchen table¸ today her famed firm supplies such legendary merchants of styles as the Conran Shop, Liberty, the Ritz Hotel, Harrods, Selfridges, and Fortnum and Mason, to name only a few.

Key to her success is the business skills of her husband, Kishore Patel, as well as her training as a pastry chef at the Michelin-starred Hambleton Hall and her background as a graphic designer. Her first major innovation, elegant small cakes, launched a major culinary wave and has landed her such clients as Bono, Pink Floyd, Simply Red, Sinead O'Connor and Sir Paul McCartney. Not a bad client list.

Yet in the rush of all things royal weddings, few know that the high tiered flower decorated cake she will create for Kate and William claims its origins from a historic fire, an inspired architect and a humble baker in love.

In 1666 a great fire swept through wooden London, destroying 70,000 homes in a city of only 80,000 families. When the ashes cooled, great sections of the once crowded medieval city were open, available for a newer better London to be built, this time of safer stone.

The amazing architect selected for this great urban renewal was Sir Christopher Wren. Under his direction, stunning building after stunning building rose, rebuilding the London skyline into a place of beauty. Among his most charming of structures was St. Bride’s Church of Fleet Street with its soaring steeple.

Named after St Bridget of Kildare in Ireland, this beloved church is known in London simply as St Bride’s Church. Close to Fleet Street, the center of London’s historic print and media area, endless numbers of world famous writers and reporters call this their home church – and that includes many culinary writers.  

And who can blame them for loving this dear Celtic saint and her church when she wrote such prayers as this for her fellow nuns in 515:

"I long for a great lake of ale
I long for the meats of belief and pure piety
I long for plails of penance at my house
I long for them to have barrels full of peace
I long to give away jars full of love
I long for them to have cellars full or mercy
I long for cheerfulness to be in their drinking"

It was in the spirit of that joy of life that a local baker in the shadow of St Bride’s created the very first tiered wedding cake. Wondering what rare and special gift a humble baker could give his new bride, he chose to reproduce in soaring pastry the towering steeple of the nearby church where they would soon to be married. 

His novel high cake was so stunning it launched a tradition that has lasted three centuries – right down to this the newest royal wedding.

So all the best William and Kate.  May their path be strewn with flowers and may their cake and Love be as beautiful and as noble as St Bride's soaring steeple and last as long!

Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011

Possible New Menu and Champagne Choices at William and Kate’s Royal Wedding

While many people are currently wondering who will design Kate Middleton’s wedding dress, chefs around the world are thinking menu – menu- menu – menu. If the past is any guide (and we are talking tradition here), it might be helpful to review the choices of former British princesses on their wedding day.

In 1947 when the present Queen Elizabeth was still a princess, she chose a blended English French menu to celebrate her wedding to Philip Mountbatten. Then, as now, the young couple was faced with the difficulty of hosting an elaborate wedding during hard economic times.

As a result, elegant restraint was the main theme of the event with the exception of 20,000 plus white pearls sent from America to accent the young princess’ snow white wedding dress. Those lucky enough to attend the post-wedding oh so select private reception dined on a menu of:

Filet of Sole Mountbattan **  Perdreau en Casserole ** Haricots Verts ** Pommes Noisettes ** Salad Royale ** Bombe Glacee Elizabeth ** Friandises ** Dessert ** Café

The baroque wedding cake was a stunning 2.5 meters or eight foot tall and topped with a silver sculpture of England’s patron St. George and his Dragon.  

Glasses of Bollinger champagne were passed to the enjoyment of all, thanks to the American General George Patton (also a noted lover of fine Champagne), who late in 1944 rushed to the Bollinger’s French estate and prevented the evacuating Germans from dynamiting the rare wines stored in the champagne cellars there.

In more affluent days, Prince Charles and a hopeful Lady Diana dined on gold plate at their 1981 morning-after breakfast reception (actually an elaborate late brunch) as their guests enjoyed:  

Brill in Lobster Sauce ** Chicken Breasts Garnished with Lamb Mousse ** Strawberries with Cornish Cream ** Claret and Port

The groom cut their five tier wedding cake with his naval parade sword. Each lovely layer was decorated with sugar doves nestled in a confectionary garden of roses, lilies of the valley, fuchsias and orchids entwined with an ornamental “C” and “D”.

It was a lovely wedding complete with endless toasts, of course, of Bollinger's legendary champagne. The entire world seemed to stop that day with everyone wishing the young couple the very best. Sadly it was not to be.

Today another royal wedding is on the horizon and this young couple seems to be more modern, focused and eager to reflect the times they live in. With an informative wedding website and a list of selected charities replacing the standard "me-me" bridal gift registry, William and Kate Middleton are both a breath of fresh air in the stately halls of British traditions.

It’s even possible they might select their own champagne, say England’s own, the Nyetimber’s Classic Cuvee 2003 of Sussex. Chosen at the esteemed international Bollicine del Mondo competition held last year in Verona, Italy as the best bubbly in the world, this remarkable English, yes ENGLISH, champagne beat out 52 other entries including Bollinger and Roederer! Mon dieu!

So, it will be interesting to see what this very modern young couple chooses. Many are betting on a health focused menu that also highlights the culinary traditions of England, all done with a touch of elegance and grace.

And the champagne…? Bollinger, Nyetimber or something else? Well, change is always possible, even at historic Windsor.

Yet, when Prince William introduced Kate to a preview of her future royal duties recently in North Wales, she christened a new lifeboat by pouring (poured, not broken) a bottle of Bollinger’s finest over the bow.

There are also other champagne houses that are willing to help the million plus wedding visitors to London celebrate the April 29th festivities in style. One is the English firm of Halewood International, which has owned the Prince William Champagne brand for decades. With an event/brand name match like that, Halewood is sure to be, as the English would say, rather popular.

But come ladies and gentlemen, whose going to create a  worthy "Lady Kate" Champagne? Please, let's remember to honor the bride!

Your Culinary World copyright Ana Kinkaid/Peter Schlagel 2011