Foods: Queen Cakes
How could a person not fall in love immediately with something which is called a Queen Cake??? I think that would be a very difficult thing to do . . . but these are not just cakes to fall in love with . . . these are cakes with a bit of a history, and I do so love to eat food with a history.
There are recipes for Queen Cakes which date back as far as the 18th century, with little or no variation from the one which I have here for you today.
Essentially they are small individual cakes . . . composed of local fresh and honest ingredients . . . butter, sugar, flour and eggs . . . and lots of sweet, little dried currants. You must not leave these out. One of these without currants . . . is not technically . . . a Queen Cake. Currants are an absolute given.
Simple and good, the ones I baked to day are flavoured simply with fresh un-waxed lemon zest . . . but I have also seen recipes requiring the use of rose water or orange flower water. I like the lemon zest myself . . . but then I am awfully fond of lemon.
These were particularly popular during the reign of Queen Victoria, almost patriotically so . . . we’ve been watching a series on the telly this week on the children of Queen Victoria, and I do believe she was not particularly fond of small children . . . however judging her girth . . . I do think she was probably rather more fond of Queen Cakes.
Surely I jest . . . and it’s all in fun, just like these lovely little cakes. Always baked in little tins . . . patty pans, bun tins . . . and here today little heart shaped tins . . . they delight the eye and the taste.
Who wouldn’t love a small cake, perfectly sized . . . just for them . . . sweet and buttery, filled with lovely currants . . . fit for a Queen.
Who indeed? Not me! These are incredibly scrummy, which just goes to prove . . . yet again . . . tasty food does not have to be complicated . . . it only needs a bit of skill, and good honest ingredients, well prepared.
Sometimes called heart cakes . . . you will find yourself wanting to lick the bowl clean. Is it just me, or does cake batter . . . licked from sticky fingers . . . taste amazingly heavenly?
Makes 12 small buns
or 8 heart shaped cakes
Dating from the 18th century, these cakes have always been baked in small individual tins, either patty pans or individual heart shaped molds. Sweet and buttery, flavoured with lemon, and stogged full of lovely dried currants
125g soft butter (generous half cup)
125g caster sugar (2/3 cup)
2 large free range eggs
150g plain flour (1 1/2 cups)
1 tsp baking powder
the finely grated zest of one un-waxed lemon
125g of dried currants (scant cup)
a splash of milk
Preheat the oven to 180*C/350*F/ gas mark 4. Butter a 12 hole patty pan, or 8 heart shaped pans. Line the bottoms of the heart tins with baking paper, and the patty pans with paper cases.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, eating well after each addition. Beat in the lemon zest. Sift together the flour and baking powder. Stir in the currants. Using a large metal spoon, fold in the flour mixture, along with a splash of milk, to give a gentle dropping consistency. Spoon into the prepared cases, filling each no more than 2/3 full.
Bake in the heated oven for 20 minutes, until well risen and the tops spring back when lightly touched. Allow to cool in the tins for 5 to 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Dust with icing sugar and serve.
Delicious when fresh, but can be stored in an airtight container for up to two days.