A few weeks ago, I had the honour of making a celebration cake for the Duchess of Cambridge. The Royal Horticultural Society were commemorating 10 years of the School Gardening Campaign. Her Royal Highness had been invited to celebrate this anniversary with teachers, pupils and the RHS team at Robin Hood Primary School, here in my borough of Kingston upon Thames.
I felt very privileged to be commissioned by the RHS to create this showstopper cake. As the theme was celebrating late-autumn with gorgeous plants and pumpkins, we decided that a spiced pumpkin cake would be the perfect flavour for the occasion. I knew the cake had to be really beautiful, a cake with grace and elegance. And of course, my flowers of choice were blooms from The Real Flower Company. Only they would be exquisite enough for the cake for the Duchess!
Sarah, a local florist and grower, from Nettlewood Flowers, provided me with my favourite Juliet roses and the stunningly pink Royal Antike as well as zesty green chrysanthemums from her cutting garden. With the added touch of golden coloured eucalyptus, jewel-like blue viburnum berries and pretty little pink pepper berries, the decorations were perfect for late November.
I truly thought I’d be delivering the cake to the celebration and following the event on social media but Alana from the RHS ensured that I could bring the cake into the school and be involved with the events taking place that day. For that, I am very grateful. And not only did I get to watch the Duchess cut the cake but I also had the honour of meeting her too. Chatting about cake with Her Royal Highness was an incredibly special moment and one I won’t forget.
It was amazing seeing images of my cake with the Duchess all over the internet and social media. The RHS have kindly given me permission to use photographs taken by Luke MacGregor on the day (main image above) and here's a link to the tweet that got posted by Kensington Palace that day:
I received so many compliments from everyone about how delicious the cake was that I’ve decided to share the recipe here with you. The warming spices and the pumpkin flavour really make it a lovely cake for these colder, shorter days.
3 organic free-range eggs
300ml sunflower oil
275g light muscovado sugar
300g plain organic flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
300g grated organic pumpkin
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Zest from 1 orange
175g cream cheese
450g icing sugar
125g organic butter, room temperature
Zest from 1/2 orange
Makes 6” layer cake (4-5” tall)
Preheat the oven to 180degC and line 2 deep 6” cake tins.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, oil, sugar and vanilla extract.
Into another bowl, sieve the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger.
Add the dry ingredients into the wet batter, in 2 batches. Stir until everything is just combined. Add the grated pumpkin and orange zest. Gently stir again.
Divide the batter between the 2 lined pans and bake in the oven for 35-40 minutes, until completely cooked. Using a cake skewer, if it comes out clean after being inserted into the centre of the cake - it is cooked through. Allow the cakes to completely cool before icing.
To prepare the cream cheese frosting, beat together the butter, cream cheese and icing sugar on a high speed until light and fluffy. Then add the orange zest and beat one more time.
To ice the cake, cut the 2 cake layers in half. Place the lowest half on a cake stand or dessert plate. Add a layer of frosting and place the next layer on top. Repeat until you have iced all 4 layers. If you wish to re-create the cake I made for the Duchess - why don’t you try adding some fresh flowers!