|Written by Pandora’s Box|
|Tuesday, 23 November 2004|
A little while ago, I was asked for an additional column on royal food. This week’s column will begin a two-part series on precisely that.
Part One will focus on the British royal family’s personal eating preferences, with particular emphasis on the early part of Queen Elizabeth’s reign. In an addendum at the end of the column, you will find six recipes for some dishes enjoyed by the Queen, the Queen Mother, Prince Philip, and Diana, Princess of Wales. Many of the recipes – such as Sandringham Christmas Cake – are perfect for the upcoming holiday season, so make sure you check them out.
Next week, Part Two will continue looking at the Windsors, but will also include some other royal families, with special emphasis upon royal banquets and coronations. It will include ten easy recipes (which can still be used today) from the time of Catherine the Great to the Romanovs.
“Dinner At Buckingham Palace”
It’s impossible to talk about the British royals’ favorite dishes and eating habits without discussing a relatively new book, Dinner at Buckingham Palace, which sheds light on the subject from the time of Queen Victoria to Queen Elizabeth II. See, Dinner at Buckingham Palace (edited and compiled by Paul Fishman, Metro Publishing 2003) (hereinafter referred to as “DBP”).
DBP draws on recipes, photographs and a collection of documents gathered by Charles Oliver, a royal servant who died in 1965. Oliver, whose personal diaries and recollections of the royals are at the heart of the book, stipulated that the information could not be published until after his death. Many years later, an English author and editor, Paul Fishman, discovered Oliver’s diaries and tried to have them published, but he died before he could succeed. Only now has it all come out, in a version edited and compiled by Fishman.
Oliver was in a position to know the personal preferences of generations of British royals. He had grown up in the royal household because his father had been a royal servant during the reign of Queen Victoria. He became close to various monarchs, particularly King George VI. During his many years of service, he amassed a vast collection of royal recipes, as well as numerous banquet menus — many dating back to Queen Victoria’s time. They are all included in this book.
The book reflects the royal family’s preference for simple cooking, without fancy treatments or elaborate sauces. Thus, despite some extravagant French names, many of the dishes are extremely basic and within the ability of the average cook. Several of the recipes are available at the end of this column for any reader who would like to experience some of the royal family’s favorite dishes or desserts. A few of those recipes might come very much in handy in the upcoming holiday season, especially if you’re planning a large Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
However, the real value of DBP lies outside the area of cooking. It’s a veritable mine of royal anecdotes, many of which have never been heard. In addition, it includes numerous, never-before published, private photographs of the current Windsors. Many of them show the royals in unguarded, casual and happy poses, including quite a few photos of a small Prince Charles and Princess Anne. I cannot recommend this book strongly enough, so put it on your Christmas list. You won’t regret it.
From Queen Victoria To King George VI
DBP begins with the Victorian era. For breakfast, there were often up to five different courses with such items as: bacon and eggs, bloaters (smoked, salted herring), chickens, chops, cutlets, sausages, steaks, woodcocks (a type of game bird) and much more. A few hours later, it was time for lunch, which was 8 to 10 courses! Dinner was equally large, with numerous dishes served during each course. Id. at xvi. But when there was a royal banquet, then the numbers became truly staggering, as we will see next week in Part Two.
Queen Victoria herself was a frugal eater and showed little interest in food. For breakfast, she ate only an egg, served in a gold eggcup with a golden spoon. However, she believed in having an imperial table commensurate with Britain’s stature in the world. Thus, the dinners were extraordinarily elaborate. They also had an international flavour. For example, she insisted that a dish of curry and rice be served at every lunch. The dish would be proffered by two Indian servants in magnificent uniforms of gold and blue. Id. at xviii.
Meals during Edward VII’s reign were simpler, but not by much:
Dinner always featured a choice of at least two soups, whole salmons and turbots, vast saddles of mutton and sirloins of beef, roast turkeys, several kinds of game such as woodcocks, plovers and snipe, a large array of vegetables, perhaps some deviled herring and cream cheese, an assortment of pasties and enormous Stilton and Cheshire cheeses. The whole was accompanied by a profusion of wines, followed by nuts and preserved fruits, then Madeira, port or sherry.
Unlike his mother, the King loved to eat. Thus, even when he was spending the evening at the theatre or opera, Edward insisted on a one-hour interval so that he could have his supper in the royal box. Six large hampers were packed, brimming with various cold dishes, which were then served on gold plate brought from the Palace. Id.
Things changed drastically during George V’s reign. One big reason was the outbreak of WWI. Equally important, however, was the influence of Queen Mary. Oliver describes Queen Mary as “one of the greatest connoisseurs of food the palace has known.” Id. at xix. Despite her personal preferences, however, she insisted on changing and simplifying the royal eating habits. She instituted rationing in the Palace far before the nation had been subjected to it. She did not permit more than two courses at breakfast, and required royal cooks to inventively re-fashion all leftovers into new dishes. For example, mutton leftovers would reappear as mock meat cutlets. Id.
George V set an example as well. He prohibited alcohol from being served at the royal table so long as the war lasted. In its place, guests were offered a concoction of sugared water. His simple tastes showed themselves in other ways: he took to drinking a thin soup for Elevenses, preferred mashed potatoes over anything fancy, and seemed to love nothing more than apple dumplings for dessert. Id.
The Current Royal Family
Queen Elizabeth has continued the trend towards simplicity. Take for example her wedding breakfast in 1947 when she was still Princess. Traditionally, a “wedding breakfast” isn’t really a breakfast at all but a type of luncheon. Princess Elizabeth’s consisted of only four courses, and was so basic that it was over in hardly any time. In fact, the celebratory meal for the heir to the throne and future Queen – something you’d expect to be quite extravagant – was over in as little as 20 minutes! Id. at xx.
During the course of her reign, the Queen’s breakfast habits have gone from simple to positively minimalist. During Oliver’s time, Queen Elizabeth enjoyed a breakfast of eggs, accompanied by tea and fresh orange juice. Id. at 2-3. The eggs were always brown eggs which the Queen thought tasted better. She also had a soft spot for sausages and frequently chose to eat that over anything else. Id.
At the present time, however, the Queen merely has whole wheat toast with some light marmalade, and tea. See, “All in a Royal Day,” by an unnamed Evening Press reporter, (May 20, 2002) (hereinafter simply referred to as “All in a Royal Day”), at http://www.thisisyork.co.uk/york/library/YORK_LIBRARY_JUBILEE14.html
Prince Philip has a much heartier meal because he likes a full British breakfast. See, “Right Royal Requirements,” BBC (October 19, 2000), at http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/965079.stm. That would presumably include eggs, bacon and toast, but could also include kippers and other dishes as well.
Breakfast is served at 8:30 sharp in the Queen’s private, first floor apartment overlooking the Palace gardens. Half an hour after breakfast is served, the Queen and Prince Philip are entertained by bagpipes. It is the continuation of a tradition started by Queen Victoria and which has continued uninterrupted (with a brief exception of WWII) until this day. In fact, it “is the principal duty of the Queen’s Piper to play every weekday at 9am for about 15 minutes when she is in residence at Buckingham Palace, Windsor, Edinburgh’s Holyroodhouse Palace or Balmoral Castle in the Scottish Highlands. The Queen is very knowledgeable about the pipes and notices the subtleties and any variations in the music.” See, “All in a Royal Day,” supra.
As for the other royals, their tastes vary. The Prince of Wales reportedly has organic muesli with six different kinds of dried fruits, as well as fresh fruit and freshly squeezed orange. He also has organic honey on whole-grain toast. Paul Thompson, “Charles has Six for Breakfast,” in The Sun (2002), reproduced at http://pco.teamhighgrove.com/news1202.htm. The late Diana, Princess of Wales, had an equally health conscious approach to breakfast: muesli or bran flakes, sprinkled with wheatgerm, along with a fruit yoghurt and toast and marmalade. Id.
Prince Charles’ former chef, Graham Newbold, provides some insight into the royal lunch. Newbold claims that, after an afternoon shooting or playing polo, Prince Charles loves a soft-boiled egg with toast soldiers and Vegemite — the Australian version of Marmite. Id.
Diana also preferred a light lunch. During Newbold’s time, her favorite was lobster quiche. Id. According to Darren McGrady, her personal chef in later years, she also “loved sliced foie gras, eggs Suzette, steamed trout, calf’s liver, and lots of fresh pasta,” although she’d often stick to a simple potato with salad. http://www.theroyalchef.com/interview.htm McGrady’s website makes available two healthy recipes that he often made for Diana: Poached Chicken Breasts with a Honey, Ginger and Cilantro Dressing; and Chilled Tomato and Dill Mousse with Lobster Tail. You will find them listed at the end of this column.
There are other fun insights provided by the former royal chefs or servants. Newbold, who spent two years cooking for the Queen before working for Prince Charles, says he also cooked for the royal dogs. Thus, Newbold — a Cordon Bleu-trained chef — allegedly cooked up a fancy meal of rabbit with rice for the corgis, while the less fortunate working gundogs had to “make do” with tripe.Paul Thompson, “Charles has Six for Breakfast,” in The Sun (2002), reproduced at http://pco.teamhighgrove.com/news1202.htm.
When The Prince Does The Cooking
One of the best parts of DBP is Oliver’s discussion of Prince Philip. His intimate, inside stories portray the Prince in a very endearing light and show a very different image of the Queen’s husband than the popular press. The latter loves to present him as cold, haughty, irascible and stiff; Oliver presents him as a relaxed, down-to-earth man who must have been a lot of fun to be around. If you’ll forgive me, I’ll share with you a large excerpt of Oliver’s observations:
The royal kitchens have always experimented with new dishes and, during the present Queen’s reign, this has largely been at the instigation of Prince Philip, who usually returns with alternative recipe suggestions after trips abroad on a state tour or visit.
Yorkshire-born Ronald Aubery, who for many years served as the royal chef, knew that if a new dish didn’t arrive at the royal table exactly as the Prince remembered it, there would be a visit to the kitchen and a searching discussion on exactly what went wrong. It was Prince Philip who insisted that Mr. Aubery go on a course at the Ritz Hotel, Paris, to learn some of the more advanced arts of the French chefs de cuisine. […]
Sometimes the Prince experiments with preparing and cooking dishes he has particularly enjoyed on his travels, but he is also fond of what he terms good, simple cooking – such as a casserole of pigeons, cooked according to a Swedish recipe. His most ambitious dish was a snipe, which, after shooting it at Sandringham, he plucked, cleaned, and prepared himself.
Breakfast and supper snacks are his specialities. Wherever he goes, he insists on his electric glass-covered frying pan being packed so that he can do the cooking. For breakfast, bacon, eggs and sausages are his usual raw materials, though he often cooks kidneys and omelettes. The Prince is also adept at producing quick, light supper snacks, which he and the Queen often enjoy when they have dismissed the servants for the night. Dishes include scrambled eggs and smoked haddock, mushrooms sautéed in butter with bacon, Scotch woodcock with mushrooms, and omelette with bacon.
Dinner at Buckingham Palace, at 62.
Prince Philip’s first love, however, is grilling on the barbeque. When the children were very young, he would take them on camping trips to the moors above Balmoral. The Land Rover would be packed with sleeping bags, basic provisions such as milk, tea, sugar, bread, sausages, eggs and bacon, and his portable barbeque equipment. They would camp in a little stone hut built in the days of Queen Victoria for picnics. Prince Charles and Princess Anne would be sent off to fetch water for the tea and washing, and then Prince Philip would get to work on his barbeque. Id.
He also loved to use it on large picnic parties for the Royal Family and their friends. The Prince would produce a “rapid succession” of sizzling chops, steaks and sausages for not only for the guests but also for the attendant staff. “If there was a nearby stream, the Queen would also insist on doing most of the washing up – much to the dismay of the staff.” Id. at 63.
The Royal Children
Another priceless image we owe to Oliver relates to a very young Prince Charles. The Prince developed a love for the kitchen early on and followed his father’s footsteps into the kitchen. According to Oliver, when Charles was 10 years old, he would regularly visit the chefs to offer his assistance. “Weighing ingredients, and fetching dishes, pots and pans were chores in which he delighted from infancy. He would also give warning when kettles, pots and saucepans were coming to a boil.” Id. at 44.
Hunting out pots and pans to help the chefs wasn’t Charles’ only foray into cooking. He loved to experiment with recipes, “especially ice lollies and even bought a plastic tray and sticks so he could make them himself [.]” Id. at 167. Orange and strawberry were the flavours of choice.
The young royals were extremely fond of chocolate. Their favorite was Kit-Kat bars. When Princess Anne and Prince Charles were very small, their great-grandmother, Queen Mary, was still alive and living at Clarence House. And they could always be assured of getting chocolate treats from her.
Queen Mary had a very sweet tooth and always had a big box of chocolates beside her as she worked on her embroidery. Id. at 168. When the young royals came for a visit, she’d tell them to help themselves. They were delighted to do so because they didn’t have much opportunity to indulge elsewhere. Queen Elizabeth doesn’t eat a lot of sweets or candies, and she didn’t believe in encouraging her children to do so either. As a result, there were few temptations around the royal nursery, which made trips to see Queen Mary all the more fun for the children.
Her Majesty may not be susceptible to chocolates or desserts but that wasn’t always the case. Oliver confides that, when the Queen was very young, she (along with Princess Margaret) loved “crisp chocolate-coated peppermint creams, as well as other chocolate and barley sugar sweets that were kept in a big glass jar on a side table” in the living room. Id. In later years, the Queen turned to fruit to satisfy any cravings for something sweet. Her favorite fruit is grapes, while Prince Charles’ is lychees. Id. at 167.
Occasional sweets notwithstanding, the royal children were raised on very simple, light foods. While they were in the nursery, some favorite dinners were: leek soup and potatoes, followed by fruit and custard. Barley water was always a favorite drink in the royal household and something that the Queen herself enjoyed.
The royal children seemed to have retained a taste for simple fare as they grew older. In the case of Princess Anne, her favorite food as a teenager wasn’t as healthy as some of the nursery dinners she’d enjoyed but it is one of the most popular, basic items in all of British cooking: fish and chips. According to Oliver, Princess Anne discovered and fell in love with this deep fried food when she went away to boarding school, and it was always served to her wrapped in newspaper the traditional way. Id. at 44.
In many ways, Princess Anne’s preference is not surprising. She has always been considered to be one of the most down-to-earth, straight forward of the royals, without fuss or pretension. Having fish and chips – an enduring symbol of simple British life – is completely in tune with her personality.
The Senior Royals
DBP also provides an inside glance into some of the older royals’ preferences. For example, the Queen reportedly loved kippers, smoked haddock and Irish stew. However, neither she nor Prince Philip can stand oysters. She also seems to dislike grapefruit. Id. at 131-132. Going back in time, Edward VII loved herrings coated in oatmeal and then deep-fried. Id. at 102. Apparently, the Queen Mother was also fond of this dish.
Speaking of the Queen Mother, there is a wonderful story about her in Oliver’s book. One New Year’s Eve, when the family was gathered at Sandringham per tradition and custom, they engaged in a little game as midnight approached. The Queen Mother was blindfolded while the royal party presumably hid out of reach. According to Oliver, this is what happened next:
Prepared to kiss the first member of the royal party she caught, she heard a sound behind her that she took to be one of her fellow party guests. In actual fact it was the French windows leading out to the lawn, which had gently opened and shut. At once the Queen Mother groped her way towards the sound, enveloped a shrinking figure in her arms, felt for the face, and kissed him. A shriek of laughter greeted her warm salutation. She plucked off her blindfold only to discover the blushing footman she had just embraced! The Queen Mother laughed louder than anyone, and the footman soon recovered from his embarrassment as he joined them all in a glass punch to toast the New Year.
Id. at 142.
Have I mentioned yet that you simply must buy this wonderful book?
“Everything stops for Tea”
Teatime is probably the Queen’s favorite meals. When her family was young, it was often her sole chance for private, quiet time with them and it became the main family meal. Oliver, supra, at 19.
The ritual is taken very seriously. High tea is served at precisely 5 pm, even when the Queen is abroad. See, BBC’s “Right Royal Requirements,” supra. In addition to the cucumber sandwiches and scones, there is always the Queen’s favorite Dundee cake. In fact, she refuses to be without it, as evidenced by reports that she travels with the cake on foreign trips so that she may have a familiar taste of home. Id.
Scones play an equally big part of the tea. And not just for the Queen. Her Majesty’s beloved corgis also seem to enjoy them. The corgis reportedly “hoover up” any crumbs dropping from the royal table but they are also “treated to the scones with strawberry jam and cream.” See, “All in a Royal Day,” by an unnamed Evening Press reporter, (May 20, 2002) athttp://www.thisisyork.co.uk/york/library/YORK_LIBRARY_JUBILEE14.html
The Queen’s scones must be extraordinary indeed, because U.S. President Eisenhower seems to have begged for the recipe. The late President’s papers include one letter to the Queen in which he wrote:
I am truly grateful for your kindness in sending me the recipe for the scones. I hope we may soon use it.
You will understand my rather woeful ignorance of culinary practices when I tell you that I did not recognize the term “caster” as a type of sugar. But when I called the British Embassy for help, the problem was promptly solved for me.
See, Document #1432; letter dated February 4, 1960, to Elizabeth II, Queen of England, at http://www.eisenhowermemorial.org/presidential-papers/second-term/documents/1432.cfm.
From footnotes added to the letter by the site, it appears that the Queen sent President Eisenhower the recipe in a handwritten note after the President visited her at Balmoral. Id. The Presidential papers do not provide the recipe in question. However, Dinner at Buckingham Palace does include a recipe for scones. Given the timeline, it might be the same one sent by the Queen to President Eisenhower. You can find the recipe at the end of this column.
The “Queen Mother’s Cake”
There is quite a story behind this cake which is incredibly popular and known to the world as “Queen Mother’s Cake.” For both its history and recipe, we owe thanks to Maida Heatter, the renowned, award-winning cook who has been called “the doyenne of desserts” by The New York Times and lavishly praised by Martha Stewart.
“It is a flourless chocolate cake that is nothing like all of the flourless chocolate cakes that are so popular today. It is not as heavy or dense. This has ground almonds and the texture is almost light, although it is rich and moist. It is divine.” Ms. Heatter, at http://www.caderbooks.com/exmcake.html
According to Ms. Heatter, the recipe’s history is as follows:
Jan Smeterlin, the eminent pianist, picked up this recipe on a concert tour in Austria. He loves to cook, and when he baked this to serve to the Queen Mother of England, she asked for the recipe and then served it frequently at her royal parties. If there could be only one cake in the whole world, this would be my choice.
Given Ms. Heatter’s credentials, that last comment is high praise indeed. But she’s not the only one with a passion for the cake. Apparently, it is one of the most popular, and most requested, recipe out of all her (many) cookbooks. It is also the cake that she herself makes most often. Information on the recipe is available at the end of this column.
Until next week, happy cooking and bon appetit…
* * *
SIX ROYAL RECIPES
I’ve reproduced many of the recipes almost exactly as they’ve been set out. On occasion, only the American measurement system is used, as opposed to the European metric system. Readers who would like to try their hand at cooking can convert the measurement at http://convert.french-property.co.uk/ orhttp://www.onlineconversion.com/weight_common.htm. If you choose to make one of these dishes, I’d love to know how it turns out and whether you enjoyed it, so don’t hesitate to write to me.
1 – The Queen’s Scones
8 oz. flour
2 oz. margarine
2 oz. sugar
2 oz. currants
1 egg for mixing
Small amount of milk (optional)
1 tsp. of cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. of salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Egg to glaze
1. Make a soft dough by mixing the ingredients, including the egg and a little milk if necessary.
2. Place on a lightly floured board and gently roll or pat out the dough to a thickness of about 3/4-in. to 1-in. Using a small plain cutter, cut out the scones and put them in a greased tin, making sure they are well spaced out. Brush them over with a smear of beaten egg and bake in a hot oven (450 F) for about 10 minutes.
(Taken from Dinner at Buckingham Palace.)
2- Cottage Pie de Boeuf Braisé
(This is a form of Shepherd’s Pie and is a wonderful way to use up leftover roast.)
1/4 lb. chopped and coarsely minced cold braised beef from which fat and skin have been carefully removed
1 onion, finely chopped
1/2 oz. dripping
1/4 pint good gravy or thin tomato sauce
1 tsp. flour
Ingredients for the Topping:
3/4 lb. freshly boiled potatoes
1. Puree the potatoes until they are light, white and creamy. Add some milk, butter and seasonings to taste. Heat the drippings in a saucepan, then add the chopped onion, cover and allow to soften slowly. Then add the flour, allowing it to colour, then pour on the gravy. Bring to a boil, season and simmer a few minutes. Remove from the heat and mix in the meat. Add more gravy if necessary to ensure meat is well moistened.
2. Put into a pie dish and lay the potatoes on top, leaving a rough surface. Dot with small knobs of butter and bake quickly in a 400 F oven. When brown and crusty remove.
(Taken from Dinner at Buckingham Palace.)
3 – Prince Philip’s Personal Recipe for “Mushrooms à la crème”
(According to Dinner at Buckingham Palace, this is recipe which Prince Philip himself came up with, so the directions given below could be a verbatim account from the Prince himself.)
1 lb. mushrooms
2 oz. flour
2 oz. butter
2 tablespoons butter
Milk [My Note: no quantity specified]
Salt and pepper
“Thoroughly clean and dry the mushrooms but don’t peel. [My Note: I presume this means that one shouldn’t remove the stalks.] Slice them into a pan and simmer in butter for 5 minutes. Sprinkle with flour, stir gentle and cook for a further 2 minutes or so. Season, add heated (but not boiled) milk and simmer for a further 3 minutes. Now stir in the cream, immediately reheat well, and serve scattered with croutons of fried bread.”
(Taken from Dinner at Buckingham Palace.)
4 – Chicken Goujons (or Chicken Breasts) with a Honey, Ginger & Cilantro Dressing
This is one of the dishes which Princess Diana enjoyed a lot. The recipe serves 2 people.
1 pint chicken broth
2 chicken breasts (6 oz. each)
Rind and juice of 1 lemon
4 tbs clear honey
1 tbs sesame seeds
1 bunch watercress
Ingredients for the Dressing:
¼ cup onion finely chopped
1 clove garlic crushed
1 tbs soy sauce
4 fl oz. white wine
2 tbs clear honey
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tbs chopped cilantro
1. Poach the chicken in the broth for about 6-8 minutes then remove, slice into thin strips and keep warm. Prepare the dressing; reduce the broth to about 4 fl oz. then add the garlic, onion, soy sauce, wine and honey. Bring back to the boil and reduce by half (about 10 minutes) Cool slightly and then whisk in the sesame oil and cilantro. Chill the dressing.
2. Prepare the chicken glaze; heat the lemon rind, juice and honey in a pan until it caramelizes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chicken strips and sesame seeds.
3. Place the salad leaves on a serving plate with the chicken on top and then drizzle the dressing on the salad leaves.
(Darren McGrady’s The Royal Chef, at http://www.theroyalchef.com/recipe5.htm)
5 – Chilled Tomato and Dill Mousse with Lobster Tail
This is a dish which Diana reportedly loved. Despite the title, the recipe really focuses on the tomato and dill mousse which, thanks to the use of molds, is turned into a conical shape and which is then served alongside a steamed lobster tail. The recipe makes 6 “ramekins” or miniature molds of mousse.
1 pound tomatoes
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 sachets of gelatine
1 tablespoon tomato puree
1 small bunch dill
3 tablespoon onion
6 steamed lobster tails (about 7 oz. each)
3 bunches watercress
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small bunch chopped chives
salt and pepper
1. Blend the tomatoes with 1/4 of the peeled onion until you have a fine pulp. Strain the pulp through a conical strainer and into a large bowl. Lightly fold in the mayonnaise, sour cream, heavy cream and tomato puree into the sieved tomato pulp. Then add a pinch of salt and pepper and the finely chopped dill and fold into the mix.
2. Add the gelatine to a small pan and “sponge” with the juice from half of the lemon. Melt the gelatine over a low heat until it dissolves and then pour it onto the tomato mix, stirring it into the mix as you pour.
Test the mix for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
3. Pour the mixture into individual ramekins, molds or mini-savarin rings and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Just before serving, run a small knife around the edge of the mold and turn out the mousse onto a plate. Decorate the mousse with the split lobster tails tossed in the olive oil, remaining lemon juice and chopped chives on a bed of watercress.
(Taken from Darren McGrady’s The Royal Chef, at http://www.theroyalchef.com/recipe2.htm)
6 – Sandringham Christmas Cake
A recipe which has a lot of ingredients but seems very simple to make. The result, judging by the picture in DBP, looks incredibly rich and decadent.
Ingredients for the cake:
1 lb. sultanas
1 lb. currants
1 lb. butter
12 oz. sugar
1 lb. cut and seedless raisins
½ lb. cut peel from either an orange or lemon
1 lb. glazed cherries
1 lb. ground almonds
1 lb. Flour
Nutmeg [My Note: no amount specified]
1 oz. mixed spices [My Note: presumably a form of All Spice but it’s unclear]
1 teaspoon salt
1 glass brandy
Ingredients for the Almond Paste:
1 and ½ lbs ground almonds
1 and ½ lbs icing or confectioners’ sugar
6 egg whites
Ingredients for the “Royal Icing”:
(My Note: Royal Icing is a thin, shiny icing that is hard to the touch.)
6 oz. icing or confectioners’ sugar
3 egg whites
1. Cream the butter and add it to all the other ingredients listed for the cake. Stir thoroughly. Bake in a “moderate oven” for 2 ½ hrs. [My Note: other parts of the book give more specific references to what constitutes a “moderate” oven. The heat is variously listed as being 350 F/ Gas 4 or 375 F/Gas 5.]
2. To make the almond paste, mix 1 and ½ lbs finely ground almonds, 1 and ½ lbs. icing or confectioner’s sugar, and 6 egg whites. [My Note: Mix extremely well until it becomes a fine, creamy paste.]
3. To make the Royal Icing, vigorously beat 6 oz. of confectioners’ sugar with 3 egg whites.
3. When the cake is cold, cover with the almond paste. Over that, cover with the royal icing. Leave the cake to set for a day or two in a cool, dry place.
(Taken from Dinner at Buckingham Palace.)
7 – “Queen Mother’s Cake”
The recipe is far too long to copy here but it has been reproduced on numerous places on the internet. The best version is Ms. Heatter’s updated one which permits the use of a food processor. You can find it at http://www.caderbooks.com/exmcake.html