Why William and Kate's choice of cake-maker is causing a stir

It may be the centrepiece of the big day – but Prince William and Kate Middleton's choice of wedding cake has raised eyebrows in fashionable baking quarters. The couple have opted for a multi-tiered fruit cake for the wedding breakfast, decorated with symbolic flowers. The design, in which Ms Middleton is said to have taken a keen interest, will be baked by Leicestershire-based Fiona Cairns, whose cakes are sold in Harrods, Selfridges and Waitrose.

Ms Cairns, 56, was contacted by the Prince's office in February and met with Ms Middleton at Clarence House six weeks ago to discuss ideas. She said: "I couldn't believe it. I'm very excited, very daunted and very privileged – a mixture of emotions."

However, rival cakemakers were a bit sniffy. "I'm surprised they've chosen someone who designs cakes for a supermarket," said one, "and brides don't tend to go for fruit these days."

According to Cakes By Kerry owner Kerry Kirchin, whose elaborate design appeared in an episode of the Channel 4 show My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, modern brides are more likely to go for chocolate and glitter. "It's certainly something different," she said. "Fruit cakes aren't popular nowadays like they used to be. At the moment, cup cakes are all the craze."

Prince William's choice was for an alternative treat, a chocolate biscuit cake made by McVitie's. "They are very popular, but it's a bit funny," said Ms Kirchin. However, Jo Hall, of online wedding directory Catering 4 Weddings, thought the fruit-cake design was in line with current trends.

"They are opting for a traditional, simple, elegant cake, with a feminine design" she said. "Fruit cakes are definitely back in again. They're becoming very popular. We're moving away from cup cakes and chocolate cakes."

The fruit cake will be decorated with Prince William and Ms Middleton's new cipher, as well as the four flowers of the home nations – English rose, Scottish thistle, Welsh daffodil and Irish shamrock. Ms Middleton has asked for the design to feature around 16 different blooms and foliage, each with its own symbolic meaning, such as a bridal rose to indicate happiness, and the aptly named Sweet William, which means perfection and gallantry.

Award-winning cake maker Ken Slatter, of the Cake Company, who supplied royal garden parties for 30 years, said: "Traditionally it's a fruitcake for a wedding – they wouldn't be able to send a soft sponge or chocolate cake to the different parts of the Commonwealth."