Queen Elizabeth Cake

 

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It’s Queen Elizabeth II ‘s birthday on April 21. Last September she became the longest reigning British monarch, eclipsing the 63 year reign of her great- great grandmother Queen Victoria. Elizabeth’s coronation was in 1952, so she has been Queen for 64 years. And on Thursday she turns 90! Considering her mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon lived to be a hundred and one, it looks like Liz will be with us for a while. Long live the Queen indeed!

When Elizabeth ascended the throne the British Prime Minister was Winston Churchill, the American President was Harry S. Truman and the Canadian Prime Minister was Louis St. Laurent. In fact, during her reign there have been twelve British P.M.s, twelve Canadian P.Ms, and twelve Presidents of the U.S. (she has also gone through thirty corgis in that time). And seven popes.

 

At her coronation

At her coronation

 

So in her honour, and to celebrate her entry into the tenth decade of her life we are making, what else, Queen Elizabeth Cake. This is a super simple cake to make, similar to sticky-toffee pudding. You can whip it together in a few minutes, and it is delicious, rich and economical. It’s origins are a little more murky; some say that the Queen Elizabeth Cake was invented/developed by Queen Elizabeth I, the only cake she liked, and the only one she could make. Others aver that it was named after the Queen Mother, also named Elizabeth, during the second world war, when copies of the recipe were sold for fifteen cents as a fund-raising effort. Still a third theory is that it was developed in Canada to celebrate the present Queen’s coronation. The fact that it is made chiefly from inexpensive ingredients helped it to gain popularity in the post war commonwealth, and it was actually in vogue for a while as a wedding cake.

Somehow I can't see this lady in a kitchen...

Somehow I can’t see this lady in a kitchen…

 

There are many slightly varying recipes for this cake, but a few sacrosanct ingredients must remain in place; dates and nuts in the cake, and a gooey, melty topping of brown sugar and butter with coconut. Served warm, with a little vanilla ice-cream or whipped cream, this is the perfect cake to serve your guests on the twenty first, and is a cake that is even better the day after. Or the day after that. Just make sure when you’re clearing the supper plates to tell your guests to keep their forks. There’s dessert coming.

 

Happy Birthday Liz!

Happy Birthday Liz!

 

Queen Elizabeth Cake

Makes one 8 x 8 cake

1 cup boiling water

1 cup chopped dates

1 tsp baking soda

butter and lard to make ¼ cup

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

¼ tsp salt

½ cups chopped walnuts

Topping

1/4 cup butter

½ cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon cream

1/2 cup shredded dried coconut

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter an 8 x 8 inch pan. Place dates in a first bowl and boil the water. Pour the boiling water over the dates and mix in the baking soda. In a large second bowl, beat the butter & shortening, sugar, egg and vanilla until light. In a third bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the contents of the first bowl and the third bowl to the second bowl, mixing until all is incorporated, then fold in the walnuts. Pour into pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of the cake comes out clean. Take the cake out of the oven and let cool.
While the cake bakes, make the topping, creaming the butter, brown sugar, cream and coconut together. Spread mixture on cooled cake. The mix is kind of sticky, so grease your fingers with butter to help spread it around evenly. If desired, toss some walnuts and coconut on top before placing cake back in oven under broiler for about 2 minutes, watching it like a hawk so it browns but doesn’t burn. Allow cake to cool. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

 

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