On May 19th, I found myself sharing my birthday with celebrations to mark the latest royal wedding. Armed with a (happy) couple of boxes of cupcakes, I made a return visit to the lovely Gifford Lea retirement village on the outskirts of Chester for a special live broadcast of Harry and Meghan's big day. Suitably bedecked in bunting (that's Gifford Lea, not me), a big screen and an even bigger marquee welcomed local residents and the wider community.
Hearing the much-reported flavours of the royal cake, I worked on a recipe for lemon cupcakes, artfully piped with an elderflower buttercream. Researching the elder flower (to reproduce something like it for decoration) I soon uncovered my botanical ignorance. For years I'd mistaken white fronds of hawthorn, cow parsley and others for elderflowers, shamefully realising that elder flowers actually grow on elder trees. Duh!
In my defence, I'd been somewhat confused by reports that the royal baker would be incorporating flowers from the Sandringham estate, which suggested that Her Majesty had managed to personally commission Mother Nature to deliver an early crop of the late-May-flowering plant.
In the end, it turns out baker, Claire Ptak, relied upon bottles of elderflower cordial to flavour her buttercream, as did I. (Excuse the slightly smug expression on my face). The cakes were a great success and Gifford Lea's lovely Sue and I rounded off the day by delivering cake to residents who hadn't been able to get out. One cheery lady answered the door in a very patriotic outfit, recounting the highlights of a glorious day. As we left, Sue said, "You should see her father... he's 102 and still wears a suit to go to the gym". A truly inspirational elder!