Chez Panisse alum Claire Ptak, owner of East London Hackney bakery Violet Cakes, designed a magnificent wedding cake that was as simply elegant as Meghan Markle's wedding dress by Clare Waight Keller. Ptak and her team of six bakers, including head baker Izaak Adams, worked on the spring-inspired, three-part layered cake creation, assembling it in the kitchens of Buckingham Palace over the past week.
The Independent in London shared the specifics of the cake:
The cake has been made from 200 Amalfi lemons, 10 bottles of Sandringham elderflower cordial, 20kg of butter, 20kg of sugar and 500 organic eggs from Suffolk.
The inside consists of layered lemon sponge that’s been drizzled with an elderflower syrup and sandwiched using buttercream and lemon curd, while the outside has been decorated using a white buttercream made from elderflower Swiss meringue.
“The elderflower is so quintessentially British to me as a Californian,” said Ms Ptak. The cordial was sourced from elderflowers sourced from the Queen's Sandringham estate.
“It’s a kind of ethereal, floral flavour which I think is very special, especially for a wedding.”
Ptak met Meghan Markle several years ago when Markle discovered Ptak's 'The Violet Bakery Cookbook' and asked to interview her for her lifestyle blog, 'The Tig', now closed.
“I feel really happy that we share a similar ethos about provenance and sustainability,” says the baker. “Prince Harry really cares and his father is a big supporter of organic farming, which is also very dear to my heart.” Besides the elderberry cordial, Ptak sourced as many ingredients as possible from the Sandringham Estate, the private Norfolk home of Queen Elizabeth II.
Like Markle, Ptak is a native of California, growing up in Inverness close to San Francisco. At age 14, she began working in small cafes and later a local bakery. Expecting to pursue a career in film as a student at the all-female Mills College in California, Ptak discovered the Berkeley-based Chez Panisse.
Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters opened the restaurant in 1971, with a commitment to promoting premium, locally sourced ingredients and intimate dinner party-style ambience. “Alice is really a mentor to me,” says Ptak. “She was studying at the Sorbonne in Paris and when she returned from France she felt she had to do something to make [American] food better.”
Love and an Englishman intervened, after Ptak trained under Waters for three years, prompting the talented baker to move to London. And while she no longer works in the kitchen, Ptak returned there to oversee every detail of the wedding cake.