The Australian Women's Weekly of 22nd May, 1937 had a feature on ‘Baltimore girl’ Wallis Simpson who had won the heart of King Edward VIII, thus precipitating a constitutional crisis when he abdicated the throne to marry her.
If The Weekly is to be believed, “that American Woman” as Wallis was not very affectionately known by the English aristocracy, was quite a dab hand in the kitchen. Part of the article reads:
A clipping from an American newspaper published during the dramatic climax in England tells of Edward’s liking for cake:
Cake for King.
LONDON: Mrs Wallis Simpson baked a chocolate cake for King Edward on Monday, as intense cold and fog kept the King’s guests indoors at Fort Belvedere, his country estate. Mrs Simpson’s chocolate cake has become a favorite delicacy of His Majesty, who also praises her salads and luncheon dishes.
As King Edward is partial to American cooking, business methods, and music, Mrs. Simpson’s cookery appeals greatly to the royal palate.
The article goes on to eulogise about Maryland food in general:
The natural geographic and climatic advantages of the Chesapeake Bay State have given Maryland a variety of excellent foods – terrapin and canvas back ducks, oysters and soft crabs, watermelon, yams, turkeys, corn bread, beaten biscuit (scones to us), fried chicken, corn fritters and corn pudding, big “beefsteak” tomatoes and shad roe – to mention a few.
And finally, it gets around to the recipes, including the favourite of the King:
Chocolate Sandwich Cake.
Two and one-quarter cups flour; 2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder; ¾ teaspoon salt’ ½ cup butter; 1 cup sugar; 2 eggs, well beaten; ¾ cup milk; 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Sift the flour; measure, and sift three times with the baking powder and salt. Cream the butter, add sugar gradually, and cream until light and fluffy.
Add eggs and beat well. Add flour alternately with the milk, a little at a time, beating after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla. Bake in 2 greased inch layer pans in moderate oven (375 deg. F.) for 25 minutes. Spread chocolate frosting between layers and over cake.
All-round Chocolate Frosting.
Four tablespoons butter; 3 cups icing sugar; ¾ teaspoon vanilla; ¼ teaspoon salt; 3 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted; 4 tablespoonfuls hot milk (approximately.)
Cream butter well; add part of sugar gradually, blending after each addition until smooth. Add vanilla, salt, and chocolate and mix well. Add remaining sugar alternately with the milk, until of the right consistency to spread, beating after each addition.
I have to take issue with the good old Australian Women’s Weekly on its opinion on beaten biscuits or scones. About the worst thing you can do with scones is to be heavy-handed with the dough. I have never eaten beaten biscuits, although I intend to remedy this while I am in Maryland this week. They may well look similar to scones, and the ingredients are the same, but the technique is so different I can hardly believe that beaten biscuits have the same texture.
I give you the recipe for beaten biscuits from article about Wallis and her cooking, and let the English scones experts amongst you decide for yourselves.
Maryland Beaten Biscuits or Scones.
One half-pint of flour; ⅓ teaspoon salt; ⅓ tablespoon shortening; ice water and milk, combined in equal amounts, to make a very stiff dough.
Add salt to flour and rub in the shortening with the hands. Slowly add the liquid to make a very stiff dough, kneading all the while.
Beat with a hatchet, stick, or flatiron for half an hour (hard work, but it’s what “makes” the biscuits): cut into small biscuits and prick the tops with a fork.
Bake at 350 deg. F. for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.