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The Coronation Cake

The Coronation Cake

Lee Fisher

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The Coronation Cake

Saturday 6th, May, sees the Coronation of King Charles III, the first UK coronation since 1953. With a three-day weekend in store, starting a month with three Bank Holiday Mondays, everyone has cause for celebration. Here we discuss the Coronation Cake, and the possibility of it being a fruit based cake.

What better way to mark the occasion than with fine food, and no party is complete without a cake? Celebration and cake go hand in hand, and we are sure that all across the country and world, gatherings and happy events will feature cake to mark this momentous occasion.

What sort of cake does King Charles love?

While the Royal Family keep many things to themselves, we know an awful lot about individual members and the preferences of the King. We know he and Camilla are big fans of The Great British Bake Off, so it shouldn’t be surprising to learn the King enjoys a cake or two.

Thanks to a special request made for his 70th birthday in 2018, we know that fruit cake is the favourite sweet dish of the King. Luxury baker Fiona Cairns was tasked with whipping up a fitting dessert, creating a two-tier cake featuring other sugar-craft shapes showcasing country pursuits and favourite past-times of the Prince, as he was then.

What does a fruit cake commonly consist of?

The ingredients of a fruit cake typically include:

·        Dried fruits such as raisins, currants, sultanas, candied peel, cherries, apricots, and prunes

·        Nuts such as almonds, walnuts, or pecans

·        Flour

·        Sugar

·        Butter or margarine

·        Eggs

·        Baking powder or baking soda

·        Spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice

·        Liquids such as brandy, rum, or orange juice

The exact recipe and proportions may vary depending on the specific type of fruit cake. Some recipes may include additional ingredients such as black treacle, honey, or grated lemon or orange zest.

Fruit cake for Coronation Cake Coronation Cake

Does King Charles enjoy any other cakes?

King Charles is also partial to Welsh cakes, which shouldn’t be surprising given how long he was The Prince of Wales. Welsh cakes are a traditional Welsh snack that is similar to scones or griddle cakes. They are small, round cakes cooked on a grill or a hot plate.

The main ingredients in Welsh cakes are flour, sugar, butter, and dried fruit such as currants, raisins or sultanas. Other ingredients, such as mixed spice or cinnamon, can also be added for a sweeter taste. Welsh cakes are often served warm with butter and jam or dusted with sugar. Welsh cakes are a popular snack in Wales and are often enjoyed with tea.

Was there a coronation cake for Queen Elizabeth?

Given the last coronation was in 1953, a lot of time has passed, and the United Kingdom was very different. Not much information exists surrounding news on a cake baked for the coronation. However, some sources cite Cyril Hall as the baker of a coronation-styled cake for the special occasion.

With many street parties to mark the event, a popular dish was the jolly jelly ring, combining jelly and custard. Post-war rationing was still in place, so ingredients were limited, but there was a determination to mark the coronation in grand style.

Isn’t there a cake called the Queen Elizabeth cake?

Yes, a Queen Elizabeth Cake is a delicious dessert that originated in Canada. The cake typically consists of the following ingredients:

·        All-purpose flour

·        Baking powder

·        Salt

·        Sugar

·        Butter

·        Eggs

·        Milk

·        Vanilla extract

·        Shredded coconut

·        Brown sugar

·        Cream

·       Chopped nuts (usually pecans)

·        Icing sugar (powdered sugar)

Some variations may include ingredients like raisins, dates, or cocoa powder. The cake is typically baked in a square or rectangular pan and then topped with a creamy frosting made with brown sugar, cream, and chopped nuts.

The history of Queen Elizabeth Cake dates back to the 1950s in Canada. The cake is said to honour Queen Elizabeth II's coronation in 1953.

However, the origins of the cake's recipe are unclear, and several theories exist about its creation. Some say that the recipe derives from a cake made in Australia in honour of Queen Elizabeth's mother, Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon, who was known as the Queen Mother. Others believe the recipe may have originated in Canada, named after Queen Elizabeth II to mark her coronation.

Today, Canadians still love the Queen Elizabeth Cake, which has even gained popularity in other parts of the world. There has been an evolution in the recipe over the years, with variations that include different ingredients and flavours, but the essential elements of the cake remain the same.

What other cakes are associated with celebrations?

While a fruit cake is a fitting way to toast the King, it is not as if this is the only celebration that people mark with a special dessert. Some of the most common celebrations where cake plays a prominent role include:

Birthday Cake - A classic cake baked to celebrate a person's birthday. The cake can come in many flavours, such as vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry. The cake is typically made with flour, sugar, eggs, butter, milk, and baking powder. It is often topped with frosting made from butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract.

Wedding Cake - A multi-tiered cake traditionally served at weddings. The cake layers are often separated by icing and decorated with fondant or buttercream frosting (An option is Dawns frosting). The ingredients for a wedding cake are often similar to a birthday cake, and the frosting commonly features butter, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and cream cheese (Another option on BFP is the Macphie cream cheese frosting).

Christmas Cake - A cake often served during the Christmas season. The cake can come in different flavours, but standard options include fruitcake, gingerbread, or chocolate. Christmas cake usually has seasonal themes such as snowflakes, holly, or ornaments.

Cakes are also commonly found at any gathering or celebration. If you’ve attended a retirement party, a graduation, a baby shower or an engagement party, you’ll likely have enjoyed the cake. Few events aren’t improved by the presence of a delicious cake.

Of course, it is entirely the choice of the people celebrating as to what cake, if any, is present. A wedding day is the most important day in the life of a bride and groom, and if they would prefer another option rather than cake, it is their prerogative to do so. Tradition is important, but so is making the day memorable for all the right reasons, and some “wedding cakes” these days are muffins, doughnuts or any sweet treat the couple loves.

A few Guinness book of records facts:

  • The tallest cake measured 33 m (108.27 ft) and was made by Hakasima-Nilasari Culinary School
  • The oldest wedding cake is said to be that of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s wedding cake, preserved since their wedding day on 10 February 1840, went on display at The Drawings Gallery, Windsor Castle
  • The most candles on a cake - The most lit candles on a cake is 72,585

Update: 09/05/2023

Yes the coronation cake was a fantastic 1.2m high fruitcake. Read all about it in this British Baker article 

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