Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A Coronation Cake.

 I am not sure how I allowed a piece on celery - albeit pink celery - to appear here yesterday, when I had intended to continue the theme of royal jubilee food stories, but today I am back on this temporary track, with some ideas for coronation cake.

On June 8, 1911, with the coronation of King George V and Queen Mary mere weeks away, The Times (London, England), ran the following short piece:

A Coronation Cake.
The King has consented to receive from Messrs. Gunter and Co. (Limited) a Coronation cake.
The cake weighs about 500lb. or 600lb., and its ingredients included 190 lb. of butter, sugar, and flour, 700 eggs, and 200 lb. of mixed fruit, besides almonds and liqueurs. Almond icing is overlaid with sugar icing, and the cake, which was baked in sections, is octagonal in shape. Its circumference is about 9 ft, and its height nearly 2 ft. It is lavishly ornamented with panels containing painted miniatures of their Majesties and emblems of the Overseas Dominions. Above the cake are graduated columnar temples, containing a finely modelled sugar figure of Britannia on the first tier, a fully-rigged three-decker on the second tier, and a figure of “Love” on the third tier. The whole is surmounted, at a height of about 10 ft, by a white satin cushion, on which reposes a crown, supported by three lions rampant. Figures of “Peace” and “Plenty” are also incorporated in the design.
Messrs. Gunter and Co. provided the cake for the wedding of the King and Queen in 1893, and that for the silver wedding of King Edward and Queen Alexandra.

Sadly, the instructions for the cake were not included along with the ingredients, but any housewife or household cook of the time would have been able to scale the recipe down and make it according to the ‘usual method’ for a rich fruit cake.

I can give you a recipe for a cake for the next coronation – that of King George VI in 1937. I don’t know if it is an ‘official’ recipe, but it sounds good enough. The recipe appeared in The Washington Post of April 10, 1937.

Coronation Cake Recipe.
Here is an English recipe for coronation cake for the benefit of Americans who might want to try it.
12 ounces flour
4 ounces rice flour,
10 ounces butter
10 ounces castor sugar (powdered sugar)
6 eggs
Grated rinds of two oranges
8 ounces glace cherries
8 ounces sultanas (seedless Smyrna yellow raisins
8 ounces ordinary seedless raisins
1 ½ teaspoonfuls baking powder
Pinch of salt.
Line a tin (cake pan) with stiff cartridge paper (oiled brown paper) and brush the paper with melted butter. Sift the flour, rice flour, baking powder, and salt.
Grate the orange rind, cut the cherries in quarter, clean the sultanas and raisins in flour and mix all these ingredients together.
Put the margarine into a large bowl and work it with a wooden spoon until it softens, Add the castor sugar and beat well together until light and creamy. Add eggs, unbeaten, one at a time, and beat them into a mixture. If, after the third egg, the mixture begins to separate, or curdle, beat in a tablespoon of flour before adding another egg.
When all the eggs are beaten in, fold in alternately the flour and mixed fruit, stirring with a metal spoon until well mixed. Put into prepared tin, smooth out towards the sides of the tin and bake for 1 ¾ hours in a moderate oven, then reduce the heat until the oven becomes very cool, and bake for 1 ¼ hours.
Take out of tin, remove paper and cool on a wire tray. It is best to keep this cake in a tin box for at least two weeks before icing it.
Cover with Almond Icing.
Cover the top with almond icing, then ice all over with plain white icing Keep back two tablespoons of the plain icing for decoration. Color one red and the other blue with vegetable coloring. When the cake has set, pipe a border of blue and a border of red around the top of the cake.
Decorate the center of the top with a colored sugar crown, and tie a red, white and blue paper frill around the cake, and it is ready for the Coronation Day Tea.
The state crown of England is the correct one to use, that is the one King George VI will wear on the procession from Westminster Abbey. It has a level top, surmounted by a jeweled ball and cross.

And finally, I give you another cake from the same era, from a newspaper of my home town of Brisbane - The Courier-Mail (Tuesday 11 May 1937.)

Make a Coronation Cake
A Cake that is a little out of the ordinary and yet is not too rich, or too expensive in its ingredients, will be appreciated by the family, especially during this week of festivities. The following will be found an excellent mixture. To half a cup of butter allow three and a half cups of flour, half pound of sultanas, two and a half cups of brown sugar, five tea-spoons baking powder, one cup of milk, one ounce of preserved cherries, four eggs, one teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and grated nutmeg, three ounces of mixed candied peel chopped. Sift the flour, baking powder, and spices together, rub in the butter. Beat the eggs and add, stirring lightly. Put in the prepared fruit, and add enough milk to make the mixture moist enough to fall into a cake tin lined with buttered paper. Bake in a moderate oven for two hours. Make a nice soft icing as follows: — Roll smoothly five ounces of icing sugar, add one good tablespoon of boiling water, and if liked one teaspoonful of oiled butter. Blend it in a small saucepan off the fire, then stir over the heat till hot and smooth, but on no account let it come near boiling point. Put a little of this on one side and colour it pink with cochineal. Spread the white icing over the cake, and when nearly set write with the pink icing, or pipe if preferred: 'G' on one side, 'E' on the other. Put the date 1937 in the centre, and beneath the 'Long May They Reign.' Then watch the family's faces as they get their first sight of your Coronation cake.

Quotation for the Day.

He showed the words “chocolate cake” to a group of Americans and recorded their word associations. “Guilt” was the top response. If that strikes you as unexceptional, consider the response of French eaters to the same prompt: “celebration.”
Michael Pollan


Lapinbizarre said...

40 years in the US and not once have I missed the English wedding cake.

Lapinbizarre said...

ps - elaborate Royal cakes. The 1923 wedding cake of the future George VI & Queen Mum. ".... ingredients supplied by the Girl Guides of Australia", yet. Made by McVitie & Price.

The Old Foodie said...

I think fruit cake is one of the polarising food choices, isnt it? Personally, I love it, especially the almond paste, but not the hard white icing.
Thanks for the reminder about the Queen Mums cake - I do believe I might have some details somewhere about the ingredients. Maybe another post?

The Old Foodie said...

I think fruit cake is one of the polarising food choices, isnt it? Personally, I love it, especially the almond paste, but not the hard white icing.
Thanks for the reminder about the Queen Mums cake - I do believe I might have some details somewhere about the ingredients. Maybe another post?

NOBODY said...

I am confused: "clean the sultanas and raisins in flour." Would it be water instead of flour? Because the flour and the fruits are added separately afterwards... This cake sounds absolutely intriguing! It is not uncommon in north of Brazil to use rice flour in cakes. I have to try this!

The Old Foodie said...

Hi NOBODY. I suspect it means "clean and flour" I am not sure if it is a typo (mine or the typesetters!) but I will check and correct if necessary Thanks