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Royal Cake Decorating- Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Wedding Anniversary

Feb 8, 2008
The diamond wedding, 60th wedding anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip is on the 20th November 2007

Little did I dream when enrolling for a course on Advanced Royal Icing many years ago, that I would be copying the design of the Queen's wedding cake.

When she married in 1947, McVitie and Price of Edinburgh presented the Queen (then Princess Elizabeth) with a wedding cake. The breathtaking four-tiered cake stood nine feet high, and was decorated with hundreds of filigree-like pieces of royal icing. Around the sides of the cakes were delicate, curved 'galleries', reminiscent of the turrets on Scottish castles - so loved by the royal family.

And I am sure you can imagine how we felt when told we were decorating a cake in the same design. Luckily, our cake, already covered in marzipan, was only six inches across. So with the weekend in front of us, and the guidance of an experienced tutor, we set to work.

First, the royal icing had to be beaten to the correct consistency - not too stiff, or it would not spread easily, or too soft otherwise it would run down the sides of the cake. It had to be the consistency of beaten double cream - soft enough to give a smooth, even layer. Each layer had to dry before the next was applied, and the cake given three layers,

Next we started to pipe the dainty lace-like pieces of royal icing. Everything had to be ready in advance - the designs for the cake were laid out, each under separate pieces of transparent, non-stick paper. Curved moulds of differing sizes were placed ready to receive each section immediately it was piped.

This time the icing had to be another consistency. Well beaten, so it would hold its shape, but soft enough to go through a fine nozzle (tip). And to make sure the nozzle did not become blocked, we pressed the icing through a square of nylon. Then began the task of piping dozens of filigree pieces. As each piece was finished, it was carefully placed over the right sized curved mould - a dot of icing under each corner of the paper kept the pattern in place.

It helps when piping fine detail to keep the elbow close to the body. This prevents the arm moving. Supporting the icing bag with the finger of the opposite hand is also a good idea - it makes sure the piping goes exactly where you want it.

Talking about icing bags reminds me to say that for a task such as the one above, only use a small icing bag. The larger the bag the more difficult it is to control. And a bag made from baking parchment is stronger than one made from greaseproof paper and much more 'user-friendly than a nylon bag. These are difficult to grip and are usually far too large for working with royal icing.

And so we spent two intensive days piping. It didn't help that we were advised not to talk! Not that we felt much like chatting, we needed all our concentration for the task in hand. Eventually all the pieces were finished. Now came the job of constructing the design.

Again the consistency of the icing was changed. We needed a stiffer icing. Using a wooden spoon we re-beat the icing (this alone made it slightly stiffer) and then added sieved icing sugar. A slightly larger nozzle (tip) was chosen, and we set about positioning the delicate sections in place. Once the paper had been gently peeled away from the back of each piece, a line of icing was piped on it, and it was carefully placed in position.

Eventually we were able to sit back and admire our work. Cameras came out and everyone relaxed and agreed it had been a weekend well worth the effort. Our next worry was how to get the cakes home in one piece!

Some years later I decided to decorate our son's wedding cake in the same design. This time it was on a three-tiered cake - but that's another story. Still, as Shakespeare wrote 'All's well that ends well' and it did.
About the Author
Pat Lock is a cake decorating expert with over 25 years experience who runs the excellent Cake Decorating Tips website. She has won awards at the prestigious international competition at Hotel Olympia, London and is also an accomplished author.
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