Friday 3 June 2016

How to make a cake fit for a Queen

A couple of weeks ago I got an exciting email from Tesco Finest inviting me to a royal cake decorating master class with award-winning master p√Ętissier Eric Lanlard. The evening was to jointly unveil and launch a new Tesco Finest cake specially created by Eric in celebration of the Queens 90th Birthday (If you didn't know it was the Queens birthday where have you been!).  

I didn't have to ponder very long over the email and returned my acceptance within a few seconds. Eric you see is a kindred spirit, he loves afternoon tea almost as much as I do! He has just launched an entire book dedicated to the subject of creating the perfect "Afternoon Tea", with ninety savoury and sweet treats. 

The cake "Fit for a Queen" has three wonderful layers of sponge, two pink velvet soaked in raspberry coulis and one chocolate with the addition of real chocolate flakes. Each layer is lovingly divided with raspberry conserve. 
cake decorating
The cake has been finished by hand with Madagascan white chocolate and prosecco flavoured pink butter cream. 
cake decorating
The cake was truly delicious, the sponge was wonderfully moist and the tartness of the raspberry and prosecco in the butter icing helped to really make the cake light and refreshing. Perfect for summer!

For those of you who have been reading this blog for a while will know I love cooking but I am very much a savoury chef. Whilst I enjoy eating and making cakes and yes I have a few signature bakes the skill just doesn't come naturally, I have to work at my sweet masterpieces. 
Cake Baking
I think in part this is because I like a cake to look aesthetically pleasing to the eye and my skill just doesn't match up to making it look as beautiful as I would like when it comes to finishing a cake off. 

So the thought of spending an evening with Eric who has created many a masterpiece for celebrities such as Madonna, the Beckhams and none other than the late queen mother herself, combined with learning a few trade secrets was something I was looking forward too. You really cannot beat watching a master craftsman at work. 

Eric shared how to turn a normal four layered sponge with jam and cream into something considerably grander.
Cake decorating
For a foodie there is nothing better than spending an evening with those who share your love and passion for food (that is unless there is a competitive element to the evening).

Well that's exactly what happened! After Eric had shared some cake decorating tips with us he set the challenge for us to layer and decorate a cake against the clock (within 30 minutes). In the row directly behind me I had Jack Layer the runner up in this year's Master Chef as competition, oh and the pressure of being judged by a master p√Ętissier

I started by layering my cake. 
Cake decorating
Perfect Sponge

I wanted to choose an icing that would stand out so opted for violet, pink chocolate and lustre dust.
Cake decorating ideas

I'm sure all of you reading this would have made a better job of icing this lovely cake, but just in case you need some additional help here are some tips from Eric.

Eric's top tips for making the perfect cake:

1. Get organised: A little bit of preparation goes a long way. Make sure you have a tidy and clean workspace before you start. Weigh out all your ingredients and make sure you have everything before you begin. The process of making your cake will be less stressful. 

2. Don't rush: Let your cake rest before you begin to add icing or frosting. Ideally a cake should be left over night before you decorate. 

3.Before you begin decorating: Add a small bit of icing to your stand to hold the cake in position. 

4. Icing your cake: Be sparing with the food colouring, you can always add more but add too much and you can't take it away. Do not overfill your piping bag when piping icing. Instead it is better to refill frequently as it gives you more control. When refilling, try placing your piping bag into a measuring jug so you have two free hands to do so.

5. Use the right tools for the task: If colouring sponges make sure that the food colouring is bake stable. If it isn't you will end up with a distorted 

6. Make the cake and tools do the hard work: When decorating your cake, spin the cake rather than moving yourself you will get a smoother finish to your icing or frosting. Dip your palette knife in hot water to get a super smooth finish to your icing. 

7. Don't crack up: When rolling icing on a surface, swap your icing sugar for a light dusting of corn flour…it won’t dry out your icing and will give you a much smoother result without cracks.

I had great fun attending Eric's decorating class, but was seriously outclassed when it came to completing the challenge myself. Have a look at some of the other finished cakes, put yourself in Eric's shoes and decide which one you would have awarded the first prize. 

Cake decorating
Cake Decorating

The delicious limited edition Tesco Finest cake "Fit for a Queen" is available nationwide from today (3rd June) until 16th June (£10).  

Fancy watching the man in action yourself? Check out his YouTube channel here

Do you have any top tips for decorating a cake fit for a queen? Share in the comments below or on Twitter with #CakeFitForAQueen

*I was a guest of Tesco for the above event but as always my opinion and views are very much my own. 

 photo foodieforce_32.jpg


  1. That's an interesting tip about using cornflour instead of icing. I went to Cake Boy, Eric's shop once, for cakes and loved it

  2. The cornflower trick is a great one and really works. Having how met Eric who is lovely, I've added the cake boy shop to the must do list Lucy x

  3. You had me at cake! It looks absolutely delicious and whoever thought of flavouring the icing with prosecco is a genius :) xx


  4. This sounds so much fun! I would have crumbled under that pressure :)

    Corinne x

    1. I definitely did. Well to be honest we had half an a hour and I spent so long faffing that I ran out of time Lucy x

  5. looks great!! love the colours!

    Have a great day!
    Animated Confessions

    1. People were really imaginative with their designs

  6. Fab tips, I love a pretty cake! What beautiful colours


    1. Thanks Zoe the class was really good fun