In 2016, not long after I won the sixth series of The Great British Bake Off, I was contacted by email to see if I would bake a cake for Her Majesty’s 90th birthday. At first, I thought it was a hoax, but it was like a fairy tale.
Seeing the Queen in person and baking for her was bizarre to me. I thought the process of creating the Queen’s birthday cake would come with lots of guidelines, but I was given only one rule: don’t make a fruitcake, as they can be tough to cut through. I finally settled on a triple-tiered orange drizzle marmalade cake; a spin on my lemon drizzle cake with lemon curd. It was fresh and zesty with a nod to a classic Victoria sponge.
At times, I found making the cake overwhelming. It was such a special occasion that I hesitated over many aspects, from ideas and flavours, to baking and decorating. In the end, it took me four days.
On the morning of the big day, its separate components were picked up to be assembled at the venue and I waved it goodbye from my front door in my pyjamas and slippers.
Then, I got ready to meet the Queen at Windsor Castle. I was going to wear a dress, but the forecast said it was going to be
windy, so I opted for black trousers and a casual khaki green blazer with a statement necklace to finish the outfit off. Ahead of the meeting, I was reunited with my deconstructed cake for the final assembly. I was told there was no protocol apart from that I would only shake the Queen’s hand if she offered it to me – I thought there would be so many more rules.
Meeting the Queen was actually quite relaxed. A group of us stood in line and she spoke to each of us. She said hello and shook my hand, then we were ushered towards the cake. I handed her the cake knife, she cut a slice and a distinct aroma of orange came through instantly. Prince Philip came over, the Queen introduced me and said,
‘This is the young lady who won the baking competition.’ Prince Philip asked me what flavour the cake was. I told him, then they moved on and I was whisked away to be interviewed. The Queen didn’t get a chance to try the cake, but it was cut up and shared. It was a special day that I’ll never forget.”