The Biggest Cake of 2018

 © Kensington Palace Twitter

© Kensington Palace Twitter

The world watched this weekend's royal wedding with great anticipation. It goes without saying that every choice, from the dress, to the bouquet, to the music, will be setting trends for years to come. Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding cake felt like a breath of fresh air, with its understated elegance and simple beauty. Many of its unique elements can be used to inspire your own wedding cake.

As most people have heard by now, the cake was composed of lemon sponge, with Amalfi lemon curd and elderflower butter cream filling.  A light and fluffy elderberry Swiss meringue butter cream covered the cake, and it was decorated with 150 fresh flowers, including peonies, garden roses and greenery.

The cake featured a butter cream finish. The icing looked organic and natural and even had a certain rustic, casual elegance. The swoops of icing really showcased the texture of the Swiss meringue butter cream. Swiss meringue has a silkier texture and is less sweet than American style butter cream. You can almost taste the light and airy flavor. Butter cream has been becoming more popular in the United States, but is still seen mostly at more informal occasions. The royal wedding will cement butter cream’s place as a modern favorite even for the most formal weddings.

There was a lot of talk about the flavor of the cake. After all, a wedding cake is the sweet spot in a reception and the taste is key. This cake combined a classic wedding sponge cake flavor, lemon, with a less traditional elderberry syrup and butter cream. It's a lovely way to make the cake something all guests are familiar with and can enjoy, with a little surprise that speaks to a couples' preferences.

What really set the cake apart was the unique way the cake was constructed and displayed. The royal wedding cake was a two tier, straight stacked caked, along with two smaller satellite cakes. Straight stacked cakes are multi tier cakes stacked without pillars or separators between each layer. Satellite cakes are single tier cakes that are not part of the stacked cake, but are placed on platforms that complement the main cake. It is unexpected for such a formal wedding with so many guests to feature only a two tier cake. Royal wedding cakes of the past have impressed with their height. Princess Diana’s wedding cake used pillars to separate five tiers of cake. Straight stacked cakes have been popular since the 90s, but this modern take on the satellite cake shows that modern brides have the confidence to look beyond height to impress their guests.

The use of fresh flowers on the cake is also a break with more traditional formal wedding cakes. Prince William and Kate Middleton’s cake incorporated over 900 sugar flowers, ribbons and bows.  Many people feel that these more costly design elements are the best fit for formal occasions. This cake went in the other direction, featuring local, in-season blossoms with lots of foliage. While sugar flowers can wow guests with their intricate, hand crafted detail, using real flowers gives the cake a natural, easy beauty.

The final aspect that sets this cake apart is the unique styling of the main and supplemental cakes. The satellite cakes used cake stands of varying heights to create a graceful and elegant design. The tiered cake was placed upon a more traditional antique, footed, gold cake stand.   It managed to look magnificent, yet not distracting. The side cakes were on two less traditional, urn-like stands. They were stunning pieces from the royal family’s collection. The table was complete with white table cloth and more foliage. The whole effect was effortless elegance.

When it comes to modern wedding cake, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle show us that there are no rules. Couples are free to select luxurious cakes for casual weddings and even the most regal of occasions can highlight a caked with a more relaxed style.  In the end, the right cake is one that is unique and reflects the couple who it was made to honor.