The Royal Wedding weekend is finally here – and although we’ve been excitedly counting down the days to the third weekend in May, there’s one couple who have been doing so even more excitedly than us. Because while the world’s eyes are on Windsor for Saturday’s royal wedding, when Prince Harry marries Meghan Markle in a fairy-tale end to their whirlwind romance, Annie Laffan and her fiancé Thomas Best are also getting married in Windsor this weekend.
This couple’s wedding was booked in way before the world got news of Harry and Meghan’s engagement and the media excitement that surrounded the announcement of their May 19th nuptials. So when we heard about Annie and Tom, whose own wedding plans had been, shall we say, impacted, by the simultaneous weekend booking, we wanted to make sure they had the wedding of the dreams, even if all the local hotel rooms had been snapped by the world’s TV crews and members of Harry and Meghan’s guest list.
One of the most important decisions about any bride’s big day is the cake – so we teamed up with UK’s no.1 favourite baking brand Dr. Oetker to help make sure Annie, 27, and Tom, 31, had the wedding cake of their dreams. And following in Harry and Meghan’s royal footsteps, we enlisted the help of baker-to-the-stars Juliet Sear, who offered to create a stunning lemon and elderflower cake, just like the royal couple had selected, decorated to tie in perfectly with Annie’s chosen wedding flowers.
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"I was really lucky because we’d booked our wedding for Friday 18th and as soon as my friend heard about Harry and Meghan getting engaged she just had a feeling it would be that weekend, so we quickly booked a few hotel rooms," Annie tells HELLO!
Great job they did because sure enough, Harry and Meghan soon announced that they were in fact following Annie and Tom’s lead, and heading to Windsor that very weekend. "It’s added another dimension to the wedding," Annie laughs. “The only shame was that we literally couldn’t get a hotel room for my parents or Tom’s parents after the announcement, but we decided just to go with it.
The stunning cake Dr. Oetker and Juliet Sear created for Annie and Tom
"We always wanted to marry in Windsor because we met here," she explains. "Tom is in the forces, and I met him out in town one night, so it seemed right to have our ceremony here too. We decided the best thing to do was to keep the Windsor part of the wedding small and have a big party in the summer for everyone else we want to celebrate with."
As a construction site manager, Annie knows how to plan and has been entirely on top of all the wedding arrangements from day one, making contingency plans for the fact that the world’s media and a huge number of royal fans were heading to Windsor for the weekend. "We’ve allowed extra time for photographs," the bride explains. "And our photographer is going to blur out the crowds in some of the public places we plan to have our pictures taken."
MORE: Preparations are already underway for the royal wedding cake!
Having a helping hand with the wedding cake has been a welcome addition. "I’m so excited that my wedding is going to be in HELLO! magazine,” Annie said. “And to have a delicious cake made for us is such a treat."
Juliet Sear, who baked a cake for Prince Harry’s 30th birthday and regularly appears on This Morning, was excited to create a lemon and elderflower sponge for Annie, just like Harry and Meghan’s. "We start with an amazing sponge - a simple Victoria sponge but we add elements of lemon and elderflower all the way through," she explains. "I love lemon cake anyway, but I think with the elderflower and that kind of floral element, it's delicious, and really summery.
Annie and Tom look down on Windsor Castle where Harry and Meghan will marry in the morning
"Buttercream icing is really modern," she continues. "We've seen these cakes for a few years now, it's not that new in general for brides and grooms but for the royal wedding I think it's a big leap. It’s much more on trend to have a rustic style – I think it's a good move and these cakes taste really good."
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The secret to a light and airy sponge is to use a teaspoon of Dr. Oetker Baking Powder mixed into the self-raising flour. “It just gives it a bit more lightness,” she explains. You mix it round to distribute it through the flour before adding to the main mix, a third at a time.
And if the thought of zesting loads of lemons puts you off making an elderflower and lemon cake, then Dr. Oetker Ready Lemon Zest is the perfect solution. "It's a ready zest, which is super easy to use and pre-grated from real lemons. You don’t have to worry about faffing around with real lemons or creating any wastage," Juliet explains. "All you need is one sachet for a delicious lemon bake."
The happy couple were delighted with their cake
And making your own cake is something Juliet would advise any bride-to-be. "It was really simple to put together, something anyone could do in their home kitchen," enthuses Juliet. "It tastes delicious, it's on trend, you haven't had to spend a fortune - and you can decorate it any way you like." Which means the £20,000 Harry and Meghan’s cake would cost to buy can be put towards an amazing honeymoon instead!
Annie and Tom cut the cake
Juliet is keen for home bakers to know that making your own wedding cake is not actually a difficult thing to do. Thanks to the amazing products now available in stores, such as the Dr.Oetker home baking range, creating professional-looking homemade cakes is easy. “There’s something quite personal and special about creating your own wedding cake, which you’ve put all your love and attention into making," says Juliet.
Here’s the full recipe for a wedding cake just like Annie and Tom’s
Lemon and Elderflower Cake
Create your own Lemon & Elderflower infused wedding cake, fit for a royalty!
- 6”, 8”, 10” round cake tins, you will need to bake 3 layers for each tier, so if you have multiple cake tins this will help you bake your cakes in batches.
- Greaseproof paper (base and side line all tins)
- Fresh flowers of choice for decoration
- Cake Boards – 6”, 8”, 10” thin cake boards and either a 12-14” cake stand to display the cake on
- Cake dowel ideally 8-10 and a knife or scissors
- Small crank handle palette knife, medium flat palette knife
Ingredients (total cake batter for three tiers needed)
- 1125g Self-raising flour
- 10 tsps Dr. Oetker Baking Powder
- 1125g Softened unsalted butter
- 1125g Golden unrefined caster sugar
- 10 Sachets of Dr. Oetker Ready Lemon Zest
- 23 Medium Free Range Eggs
- Total 4500g cake batter needed for the three tiers
- For the drizzle: Juice of 5 lemons, strained
- 500ml water
- 10 tbsp elderflower cordial
- 500g Golden unrefined caster sugar
- For the Buttercream and filling for sandwiching and rough icing all three tiers:
- 2kg Unrefined icing sugar
- 1.6kg Soft unsalted butter
- 120ml Elderflower cordial
- 3 Sachets of Dr.Oetker Ready Lemon Zest
- An additional 2 jars of good quality lemon curd
- Flowers to decorate if desired
1. Preheat the oven to gas 4, 180°C, 160°C fan, grease and line cake tins.
2. Mix the flour and Baking Powder into a large bowl.
3. Cream together the butter, sugar, cordial and Ready Lemon Zest until light and fluffy, then gradually add in the eggs until incorporated.
4. Gently mix in the flour and Baking Powder until just lightly mixed.
5. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tins, following the quantities below. 3 x 6” cake - weigh 250g batter into each cake tin - 750g batter total 3 x 8” cake - weigh 500g batter into each cake tin - 1500g batter total 3 x 10” cake - weigh 750g batter into each cake tin - 2250g batter total
6. Bake until cooked or when a skewer inserted into the sponge comes out clean, note baking times will vary for each tin, 6” check after 20 mins, 8” check after 25 mins and the 10” check after 40 mins (ovens can vary). Once baked place the cake onto a wire rack to cool.
7. While the cakes are baking, make the drizzle by placing the lemon juice, water, elderflower cordial and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until the sugar has dissolved completely.
8. Whilst the cakes are warm, spear the cake sponges with a skewer to make multiple holes and drizzle the elderflower syrup, use a pastry brush to ensure all cake is covered in syrup.
9. Make the buttercream by beating the icing sugar, butter, and cordial together until very pale, fluffy and creamy (buttercream may have to be made in batches).
10. Spread a small amount of buttercream onto the cake board and place a layer of cake on top the same size as the board. Layer the sponge by spreading over some buttercream and then adding some lashings of lemon curd. Sandwich together with 3 layers of sponge and chill for 20-30 minutes. Repeat this step for each cake tier.
11. To create the rough iced look, crumb coat each tier and chill for 30 mins to an hour to seal and set.
12. Using a palette knife, gently carve swirls and strokes on the side of the cake. Then, top with edible flowers if you wish or simply with additional Lemon Zest.
13. To assemble the cake, insert a cake dowel into the centre of the 10” cake taking care the dowel goes straight through the cake to the board. Use a knife to mark where the dowel meets the top of the cake and pull the dowel back out of the cake. Cut the dowel to the correct size and use as a guide to cut 5 more dowels the same size. Insert one dowel back into the centre of the cake and insert the other 5 dowels evenly spaced about 3” from the centre. This will now support the second cake tier. Repeat placing the dowels into the cake for the 8” tier, but only use 4 dowels and place the dowels closer together to ensure the dowels support the top 6” cake tier. Once at your wedding venue, stack the cakes centrally and if needed, add additional buttercream if there are any gaps. Dress as you wish with fresh flowers.