The official dessert for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebration in June is the Lemon Swiss Roll and Amaretti Trifle. Looks great, but over two o’clock preparation time? How cabin friendly is it?
CL humbly suggests a more convenient Canadian option: the Queen Elizabeth Cake. Enriched with dates, topped with its toasted butterscotch and coconut glaze, QE Cake was a staple snack in this country in the 1950s and 60s. “It’s something most people could make using ingredients from their pantry,” says Rebecca Beausaert, University of Guelph historian (and owner of a cottage in Severn Falls). “But because it’s called the Queen Elizabeth cake, it looks regal.”
The exact connection between the monarch and the one-ply confection is obscure. Is it the Queen’s favourite? No, it’s chocolate. Did his mother develop it for a fundraiser for a church? It’s not true, the palace told cookbook publishers in the 1990s. Was it produced for the Queen’s coronation in 1953? Kind of. A pocket version was ChatelaineThe recipe for the month of June 1953. Yet the recipe appears elsewhere from 1950.
“Its origins are somewhat questionable. But I’m pretty sure the name refers to Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, rather than Elizabeth II,” Beausaert said. The queen mother was hugely popular after a royal tour of Canada in 1939 and during the war years, and the use of dates in the recipe alludes to depression or wartime origins. Dried fruit was an economical way to add richness and sweetness without extra eggs, sugar, and butter.
But don’t take our word for it. Here is a version of the one distributed by the Ontario Wheat Marketing Board (now Ontario grain growers) in the 1970s and 1980s, and attributed to Mrs. Audrey King, of Pain Court, Ont.
Queen Elizabeth cake
Enriched with dates, topped with toasted butterscotch and coconut frosting, Queen Elizabeth Cake was a staple snack in Canada in the 1950s and 60s.
The cake batter
- 1 Chopped off boiling water
- 1 Chopped off chopped dates
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ Chopped off shortening or butter
- 1 Chopped off White sugar
- 1 Egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ Chopped off nut
- 1½ cups cake flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 5 soup brown sugar
- 2 soup cream
- 3 soup Butter
- ½ Chopped off grated coconut
The cake batter
Add baking soda to dates. Pour boiling water over it and let cool.
Cream the butter or shortening, add the sugar and cream well.
Mix the egg, salt and vanilla and add to the butter-sugar mixture.
Combine the flour and baking powder and add alternately with the date mixture. Stir in nuts.
Bake in an 8 x 12 inch pan at 350° for 35 to 40 minutes.
Some recipes recommend using broil to brown the glaze.
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