Claire Ptak, a California native and veteran of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse who now runs her own East London bakery, helped tie the knot — and the American and British contingents together — at this weekend’s much-watched royal wedding. Her “non-traditional” cake was not, as is typically expected, a tiered fruitcake situation, but instead a fresh, swiss meringue buttercream presented on gilt stands from the Royal family’s collection.
Ptak’s recipe called for 200 Amalfi lemons, 500 eggs, and 44 pounds of butter, flour, and sugar. The not-so-secret final ingredient: Elderflower cordial made at the Queen’s residence in Sandringham from the estate’s elderflower trees.
”A filling made from Amalfi lemon curd and elderflower buttercream ties all the elements together,” a statement from Kensington Palace explained. Elderflower wasn’t the cake’s only floral element: It was “decorated with Swiss meringue buttercream and 150 fresh flowers, mainly British, and in season, including peonies and roses.”
“It tastes delicious. I hope! I think,” Ptak said of her cake according to E! online. “The texture is really lovely and the flavor is quintessentially spring and British.”
Ptak was born in Inverness and attended Mills College in Oakland. In the UK, she opened Violet Bakery, a sweet spot in sometimes gritty East London. The shop captured the attention of then lifestyle blogger Meghan Markle, who interviewed Ptak for her erstwhile site, The Tig. When a special occasion called for it, Markle appears to have reached back out to the baker, and the rest is edible history.
The cake, and its organic ingredients in particular, were met with admiration back in Berkeley. Alice Waters, queen mother of Chez Panisse, expressed her pride in Ptak’s work in an Instagram post. To the encouraging words, Ptak responded: “Thank you Alice!!! My mentor, hero, friend, and constant source of inspiration. Love ya!”