Fiona Cairns: Royal Baker & Pastry Chef

It was an unexpected pleasure to get out of the house this afternoon to hear Fiona Cairns speak about her fascinating career. My friend Ami from Bisbrooke Artisans (top notch sourdough bakers from Rutland) sent me an unexpected message saying she was on her way to this afternoon tea talk and did I want to come.

Fiona Cairns with Ami from Bisbrooke Artisans
Bakers together: Sourdough and cupcakes!

Cake and listening to a passionate foodie talk about their incredible career? Count me in, obviously! The afternoon was staged in support of Age UK Leicestershire & Rutland. After a fascinating talk by Fiona, we enjoyed an afternoon tea which of course incorporated a number of her delicious cakes.

Fiona Cairns victoria sponge

Baker to Royalty

Fiona has been a powerful name in the cake trade for an incredible time. Her cakes have been a regular feature at Harrods for over 30 years. She is perhaps best known for creating the incredibly elaborate cake for the wedding of William and Kate (the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) in 2011. To paraphrase Fiona, what greater commission could there be than the wedding cake for the future king?

Fiona Cairn's sketch plan for the Royal Wedding cake commission
Fiona’s sketch plan for the Royal Wedding cake

Since then, Fiona has had many repeat orders from the royal family. Christenings and weddings, she is now one of their go-to bakers! An incredible set of experiences by the sound of it and no shortage of reasons to buy a new hat.

I was taken by Fiona’s obvious passion and care for her business. While the Fleckney site that they use must by now be more of a factory than homely bakery, since the business supplies large scale retail customers like Waitrose and Harrods, it is very evident that Fiona remains hands on and has the utmost respect for all of her 100+ team. It is very much a success story of taking a kitchen sink business and through hard work and dedication building it into an industry leading name.

Fiona Cairns shortbread

Afternoon Tea for Age UK

And of course, the cakes were delicious! I particularly liked the salted caramel and chocolate cake. It was not overly sweet – quite an accomplishment for anything with salted caramel. The chocolate was rich and dark enough to have an earthiness that kept the cake very balanced. The whole thing was extremely moist. I also managed to sneak a cupcake out for The Boy, although I have not received a report on its yumminess so far! I think that’s because he is absorbed with the latest song he is producing.

Afternoon tea sandwiches

Many thanks to Ami for thinking to invite me along so I could finally escape the house for a couple of hours. And thank you to Fiona for spending the time in conversation after her talk, I found the whole thing fascinating! I hope all of our £10 ticket fees will really do some good for Age UK Leics and Rutland!

Fiona Cairns cupcakes


Bestselling author and freelance drinks writer. Champion of pubs and breweries. Occasional printmaker.

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