I Baked Harry & Meghan’s Wedding Cake in Honor of Their 6th Anniversary

The effort is in the elderflower

harry and meghan wedding cake universal
Rachel Bowie

Count me lucky, but my husband loves to bake. Our bookshelves are swimming in cookbooks by everyone from Rose Levy Beranbaum to Odette Williams and his go-to weekend project is to pick a recipe and test it out. To be clear, these “projects” often turn into experiments, which is exactly what happened when, together, we cracked open Claire Ptak’s recent release, Love Is a Pink Cake, which debuted in 2023.

claire ptak harry and meghan wedding cake royal wedding
Hannah McKay/Getty Images

All About Claire Ptak

For reference, Ptak—who grew up in California and now owns her very own East London bakery, called Violet—just happens to be the very same baker tasked with whipping up Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding cake back in 2018. (On May 19, the royal pair celebrate six years of marriage.)

As the story goes, Meghan was supposedly a longtime fan of Violet—she even interviewed Ptak way back when for her lifestyle blog The Tig—and, together with Prince Harry, reached out to Ptak to commission their royal wedding cake. (Ptak told Tatler last year that it was a unique experience, given that Harry and Meghan trusted in Ptak’s vision; she ultimately offered them six different choices and they picked from there.)

claire ptak lemon elderflower wedding cake harry and meghan
Steve Parsons/Getty Images

Their decision? A lemon and elderflower concoction, the recipe for which is now prominently featured in Love Is a Pink Cake. As Ptak describes in her cookbook, “I want [the cake] to be remembered for its delicate balance of sweet, bright lemons from the Amalfi Coast of Italy and the heady fragrance of Elderflower which permeates London’s streets and country lanes at that time of year.” The finished result, which was whipped up in the kitchens at Buckingham Palace, then transported to Windsor Castle, where the couple said, “I do,” had to ultimately serve a crowd. “We made the four large display cakes as well as enough bite-sized pieces of cake for 800 people to be served at the reception simultaneously,” Ptak describes.

lemon elderflower cake harry meghan claire ptak
Rachel Bowie

My Own Attempt at Lemon Elderflower Cake

In our case, we didn’t need a cake large enough to serve 800 people, but Ptak adjusts for that in her cookbook. (The finished result—1 stacked cake—is designed to serve 30 to 40.) We did need a couple of items, not currently in our cupboards: First and foremost, elderflower cordial for the buttercream frosting (for the royal wedding, Ptak got hers from Queen Elizabeth II’s Sandringham estate; we got ours on Amazon); we also needed to invest in a deep cake tin, measuring 6 by 4 inches. (“I’ll use it again,” my spouse proclaimed.)

The rest of the ingredients—eggs, caster sugar, vanilla extract, lemons—were easy to find. We mixed up the lemon curd (which required approximately eight lemons to generate one cup of freshly squeezed juice) the night before since it needs time to chill. (Ptak says it can be stored in the fridge for up to three days.)

From there, we attempted the sponge. This is where things went awry. Insert Paul Hollywood’s voice from The Great British Bake-Off: Beware the soggy bottom. We’re not sure if it was a temperature issue or our lack of experience baking a layer at that depth, but the center of our first two attempts in the 6-inch pan came out underbaked. We finally got it on the third try, but ran out of batter for the larger 10-inch layer. (We decided this was OK since we’d still get the appropriate taste.)

About that taste: I decided to sneak an early bite of the cake alone, breaking a small unnoticeable corner (at least to my husband’s eyes) off the top. The vanilla flavor came shining through and the sponge itself had a beautiful texture. ( “It’s amazing,” my six-year-old proclaimed.)

claire ptak lemon elderflower cake frosting
Rachel Bowie

Onto the Frosting

Ptak marks this cake for intermediate to advanced bakers (i.e. not for beginners), and while my husband for sure has experience, he is also quite skilled at downplaying the level of effort. Let’s just say, for the frosting—a Swiss meringue buttercream—we had to create a double boiler setup and whisk the egg yolks until they reached a temperature of approximately 165 degrees F. With me holding the thermometer and my husband doing the gentle whisking, it was an exercise in marital patience.

We added the butter and the elderflower cordial and chilled it before applying it to the cake. This bears repeating, again, but we had to adapt the recipe given our lack of layers. Still, we applied the same methodology to our single tier—slicing it in the middle to layer in the frosting and lemon curd—as Ptak would have done with all four layers at the royal wedding. (Meghan and Harry’s wedding cake—displayed as two single-tiered cakes along with one two-tiered cake—was actually quite modest as far as royal cakes go.)

lemon elderflower cake harry and meghan wedding
Rachel Bowie

The Final Result

With the Swiss meringue and lemon curd layered inside (and the buttercream on the outside, too), I plucked a couple of pink coral peonies from a household arrangement to mirror the real deal as closely as I could. Harry and Meghan’s lemon and elderflower cake was styled with white peonies and roses, as well as green foliage to give it a garden-inspired look.

The final taste—which combines not only the vanilla sponge, but also the elderflower cordial and lemon curd—was delicate and aromatic. It also wasn’t too sweet, which is my own personal preference. While it will take a bit more experimentation for us to really nail the sponge, we’ll absolutely be mixing up this recipe (buttercream frosting included) again, even just for cupcakes. (Claire, if you’re reading, we’re open to any tips for baking a sponge in a deeper cake pan next time!)

Overall, the biggest lesson I learned was that I need more elderflower cordial in my life—next time from the Sandringham estate though.

Rachel Bowie Headshot

Royal family expert, a cappella alum, mom

Rachel Bowie is Senior Director of Special Projects & Royals at PureWow, where she covers parenting, fashion, wellness and money in addition to overseeing initiatives within...