Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few months, you’ll be aware that the Queen celebrates her 90th birthday this year. So all the brands are jumping on the royal bandwagon/diamond encrusted carriage and creating special edition products to mark the occasion.
During the last few weeks I’ve received information about spurious Queenie-themed stuff, from beauty boxes and perfumes to jigsaw puzzles.
But Tesco Finest has created a special edition which is actually relevant to the Queen’s birthday. They have cake!
I was sent an invitation to their royal cake decorating masterclass, hosted by award winning master pâtissier, Eric Lanlard. Eric has designed a beautiful, limited edition ‘Cake Fit for a Queen’ for Tesco Finest, which will be in stores in June*. I’ve tried it, and it’s delicious.
With two layers of pink velvet sponge and a chocolate sponge centre layer, it’s filled with a raspberry conserve and coated with chocolate buttercream and prosecco flavoured buttercream roses.
Eric is quite the storyteller. For the first 20 minutes of the masterclass he regaled us with tales of cake deliveries to the royal household, and the Queen Mum’s reaction to his corgis crafted from sugar.
He then showed us how we could transform the four layers of boring sponge sitting sadly on the tables in front of us, into an amazing creation like this:
I’m not a baker. The last time I decorated a cake was in school. I had no idea what the standard was like amongst the other guests. So I felt slightly intimidated after discovering the man right next to me was Jack Layer, the runner-up in this year’s MasterChef! He was quick to point out that he was a chef, not a baker, but still… the best cooking accolade I can muster is a C in GSCE home economics (yup, I did that).
Then, just to add a bit more pressure to the situation, Eric announced that the cake decorating would be competitive and that we had half an hour to create something marvellous with two bowls of buttercream and some food colouring.
The first job was to stick the sponges together with alternate layers of strawberry conserve and white chocolate buttercream. That was the easy part. I was shaking as I dolloped buttercream around the sponge with a palette knife and tried to even it out. Fifteen minutes gone already.
I had the brilliant idea to decorate the top with a union jack, sticking with the royal theme, but that didn’t go well. Purple was the closest I could get to blue, and the nozzle on the piping bag was too wide. My cake was a mess. The clock was ticking. Looking around the room, I could see that I was going to have to rethink everything.
I had five minutes to save it. I made up some orange buttercream and started going for it with the piping. Isn’t it great how glitter can make something really shoddy look like a party on a plate, made by a five year old?
Here it is:
Eric judged our creations and gave a signed copy of his book to the three best decorators.
Despite the pressure, I really enjoyed the evening, met some lovely people and did something completely outside of my cooking comfort zone. The kids were hugely impressed by my effort and it did taste great.
Tesco, you had me at cake. Vx
*The limited edition Tesco Finest Cake Fit for a Queen is available in 532 stores nationwide from 3rd to 16th June 2016. It costs £10.00 and serves 14 people.
[Disclosure: This post was fuelled by free cake and a goodie bag from Tesco Finest, for which I am grateful]