From Ngaire’s journal 22nd May 1953
‘Carol and I went shopping this afternoon. Everyone is Coronation conscious and the shop windows are a treat.’
I’m getting a little coronation conscious myself, what with the flurry of jubilee specials and ‘Downton Abbey’ making me come over all King and Country. Ngaire was never anything else; she breathlessly followed every move even the most minor member of the royal family made. Imagine the thrill of discovering a cake that the Queen not only liked, but had actually made with her own hands.
I’m not sure where Ngaire found this recipe, but I’d be willing to bet it was the New Zealand Women’s Weekly. They quite like a royal story, or at least they did in the 70s. I know this because Ngaire used to post them to my mother — four or five issues would arrive each month bundled up in brown paper with rows of stamps. I remember Mum teaching my brother and me how to soak the stamps off the paper and dry them flat so we could add them to our collections. Ngaire was always posting us things: newspaper cuttings, fruit cakes, first day covers, hand-knitted jumpers, commemorative coins, honey, dress lengths of fabric… She even sent me a poster of Princess Anne’s wedding.
Which brings me back very neatly to the Queen and her quite delicious cake.
The Queen’s Cake
(Made by Queen Elizabeth 2nd, and by me)
Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 cup chopped dates and 1 tsp bicarb. soda. Allow to stand for at least 20 minutes.
Cream 110 gms butter with 1 cup sugar. Beat in 1 egg. Add 1½ cups plain flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp vanilla, pinch salt and ½ cup chopped nuts (I used slivered almonds and walnuts) and beat gently. Stir in the dates (including the water). Pour into a greased and lined slice tray (around 30 x 20 cm) and bake in a moderate oven for 35 minutes.
While the cake is cooking, make the topping. Put 5 tbsp brown sugar, 5 tbsp butter and 5 tbsp cream in a saucepan and bring to the boil. Boil gently for 5 minutes. Pour into mixing bowl and put in the fridge to cool.
Turn the cake onto a wire rack to cool.
When the cake is completely cool, beat the topping mixture until it turns pale and fluffy. Spread on the cake and top with coconut or nuts. I used toasted coconut flakes and chopped almonds and walnuts.
Enjoy with a little pomp and ceremony.