The Ladies' Tea Guild

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Celebrate the Queen's Jubilee with a special afternoon tea

Cherries Jubilee, Wikimedia Commons.
 Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Queen Victoria are the longest-reigning monarchs in the history of the U.K. -- amazing that they beat out all the men!  There are a lot of events and festivities scheduled for this weekend in the U.K., the Commonwealth nations, and in households where Brits, Canadians, and their friends live, including the Sunday Lunch (tomorrow).  Red, white and blue bunting, ribbons, and flags are used to decorate homes, businesses, and even cakes this year!  Many people are decorating regular cakes with the Union flag in fondant, or red and blue sprinkles, but why not adapt a recipe or two invented for Queen Victoria's Jubilee back in 1897 and bring some history into it?

Traditional Victoria Sponge cake is a light sponge cake, served in two layers with strawberry jam and cream in between.  Queen Victoria is said to have loved cherries, and Cherries Jubilee was invented for her, intended to be served with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.  Why not make a Victoria Sponge cake and use Cherries Jubilee and cream for the filling?  Lucky for us, cherries are available locally at most farmer's markets, but you could use canned cherries to make Cherries Jubilee, or even substitute cherry pie filling.  Here is a recipe for such a cake from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook

Victorian Jubilee Cake
5 eggs
¼ cup sugar
1tbls lemon juice
¾ cup sugar
1 cup flour
¼ tsp salt

Cream-Cheese Filling:
8 oz. Cream cheese softened
½ cup confectioners’ sugar
1 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp. Cherry jelly
¼ tsp almond extract

Cherries Jubilee Filling:
1 pt. pitted black cherries
½ cup claret
1 cup or less sugar (to taste)
3 tbsp cornstarch
¼ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp lemon juice

1. To Make The Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat the egg whites until they stand up in soft peaks. Beat in the ¼ cup of sugar a tablespoon at a time. Without washing the beater, beat the eggs yolks with the lemon juice until thick and lemon-colored. Gradually beat in ¾ cup of sugar. Pour the yolk over the beaten egg whites an fold together gently with a spoon or spatula until will blended. Shift the flour and salt together and fold into the egg mixture. Spoon the batter into two unbuttered 9-inch layer pans. Cut through the batter gently server times to break any large air bubbles. Bake about 30 minutes. Test by pressing lightly with a finger. If the cake springs back, it is done. Invert on a wire rack and cool.
2. To Make Cream Cheese Filling: Cream the sugar and cream cheese together; add remaining ingredients and beat until thick.
3. To Make Cherries Jubilee Filling: Dissolve the sugar in the claret and pour over the cherries. Let stand for several hours. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of the cherry juice. Heat the cherries in a saucepan to the boiling point. Lower heat and stir in cornstarch mixture. Simmer, stirring constantly until thickened. Remove from heat, add spices and lemon juice and allow to cool.
4. To Assemble The Cake: Place one layer of sponge cake on a cake platter and spread a layer of cream filling about 3 inches wide around the perimeter of the top of the cake. Cut out the center (in a heart shape if you are using heart-shaped pans) of the other layer, leaving a 3-inch border. Put aside the center piece you cut out. Place the layer with the cut-out center on top of the other and press down to make the layers stick together. Decorate by placing a paper doily on top of the cake and shifting confectioners’ sugar over the doily. Carefully remove the doily and fill the center of the cake with the Cherries Jubilee filling.

This cake would go well with a cup of black tea with lemon.  People all over the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand will be enjoying Jubilee Teas this month, adding their own Jubilee Cake to the always-necessary scones and finger sandwiches.  If you want to join in the fun, you can add dried cherries -- to keep with the cherry theme -- to your favorite cream scone recipe or try this recipe for Victoria Scones.  Then, of course, there are the recipes for Chocolate Biscuit Cake and Coronation Chicken, which are said to be favorites of the current Queen.  Hmm.  These recipes sound good and my birthday is coming up ...

"Jubilee Afternoon Tea fit for a Corgi!"
"The Jubilee Baking starts here!  Victoria Scones for a Jubilee Tea"

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Now stir the fire, and close the shutters fast,
Let fall the curtains, wheel the sofa round,
And, while the bubbling and loud-hissing urn
Throws up a steamy column, and the cups
That cheer but not inebriate, wait on each,
So let us welcome peaceful evening in.
-- William Cowper (1731-1800)
"The Winter Evening" (Book Four), _The Task_ (1784)