Eight-tiered cake wows guests at wedding reception
A magnificent eight-tiered wedding cake took centre-stage as Prince William and Kate Middleton celebrated their marriage with friends and family at Buckingham Palace on Friday.
With the formalities of the wedding at Westminster Abbey completed and the much-anticipated kiss on the balcony of the palace out of the way, William and Kate were able to relax a little at a reception for 650 guests hosted by Queen Elizabeth II in the palace's picture gallery.
They snacked on some tasty treats among the 10,000 canapes prepared by a team of 21 chefs led by Royal Chef Mark Flanagan, palace officials said.
But it was Fiona Cairns-created cake, covered in cream and white icing and decorated with up to 900 delicate sugar-paste flowers, which was the focus of most attention as it was cut by the newlyweds.
The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are fans of Cairns's fruit cakes, while Beatles legend Paul McCartney orders one for Christmas every year.
Cairns, 56, spent five weeks working on the project after being contacted in February to ask if she would make the cake, which consisted of 17 individual fruit cakes, 12 of which formed the base.
Speaking at Buckingham Palace, Cairns said: "The picture gallery has high ceilings and is an imposing room so I wanted the cake to have presence but not to be imposing and I think it worked.
"Catherine did not want it to be seven feet tall, she didn't want it to be towering and thin, and I think we succeeded.
"We reflected some of the architectural details in the room so the garlands on the walls were reproduced loosely on the fourth tier."
Kate wanted elements from the Joseph Lambeth technique of cake decoration, where intricate piping is used to make three dimensional scroll work, leaves, flowers and other adornments.
"I could not believe I finished it in time but we were all really pleased with it," Cairns added. "I worked at the palace for two days before the wedding, setting it up with my team.
"The hardest part was transporting the cakes from Leicestershire to the palace -- we were worried they would get damaged - then we had to assemble them."
Kathryn Boyden, Buckingham Palace's royal pastry chef, added: "I was speechless, this cake made me speechless, and I think it is exactly what the bride wanted - it's just perfect."
There was plenty of choice for the hungry guests as the lavish spread of canapes featured British-themed specialities.
They included pressed duck terrine with fruit chutney, roulade of goat's cheese with caramelised walnuts, quails eggs with celery salt, bubble and squeak with confit shoulder of lamb, grain mustard and honey-glazed chipolatas and miniature Yorkshire pudding with roast fillet of beef and horseradish mousse.
As well as the cake, guests with a sweet tooth could try blood orange pate de fruit, rhubarb creme brulee tartlet, passionfruit praline and dark chocolate ganache truffle.
Pol Roger NV Brut Reserve Champagne -- regarded as a relatively austere choice compared with more exclusive champagnes -- was served with other alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
© 2011 AFP