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April 21st will be the Queen 90th birthday! I recently watched a documentary on the Queen, and her son Andrew shared this anecdote that I love for its insight into her personality and dry wit: once, someone saw Elizabeth in a casual environment (I’ll admit I’m not sure what that would be), and said to her, ‘You look so much like the Queen.’ Elizabeth’s response? ‘How very reassuring.’
As Queen Elizabeth marks this milestone, I thought it would be fun to celebrate by looking at some of her favorite foods. As a source, I’m using Carolyn Robb, former personal chef to the Prince and Princess of Wales, and Prince William and Prince Harry.
What are Queen Elizabeth’s favorite foods?
One food Her Majesty enjoys are lemon tarts (see photo at top). “Lemon Tartlets will always be reminiscent of garden parties for me,” Carolyn writes. ” I vividly remember the first time I attended a garden party at Buckingham Palace; it was a gloriously sunny English summer’s afternoon. One year I had the joy of having my dear Mum attend another of the Queen’s famed garden parties.”
Queen Elizabeth’s Scones
Scones seem synonymous with British teatime, and these Scones with Vanilla and Orange Zest are a favorite. Carolyn remembers “mountains of cream scones and cucumber sandwiches” at Her Majesty’s garden parties. This is Carolyn’s favorite scone recipe — why not try making it to celebrate the Queen’s birthday?
Scones with Vanilla and Orange Zest
A 1½ inch pastry cutter and 2 flat baking trays
3 3/4 cup plain flour
1/4 golden caster sugar
½ tsp salt
3 tsp baking powder
7 Tablespoons butter
¾ cup buttermilk
¼ cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Zest of 1 orange
- Preheat the oven to 425ºF.
- Sieve the flour, sugar, salt and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
- Rub the butter into the dry ingredients using your finger tips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
- Blend together the buttermilk, milk, egg and vanilla extract.
- Make a hollow in the centre of the ‘crumbs’, finely grate the orange zest into it and pour in most of the liquid. Add in the remainder later if the dough seems dry. Traditionally, a small round-bladed knife or palette knife is used to mix the dough. You want to achieve a lightly-bound dough that is neither sticky nor dry and crumbly.
- Lift the ball of dough onto a floured surface and knead it just 3 or 4 times to get rid of any cracks, working quickly. If the dough is over-worked it will result in ‘tough’ scones.
- Pat the dough out to a thickness of ¾ inch. Cut out the scones, dipping the pastry cutter into flour each time, so that it makes a clean cut and does not drag the dough when cutting through it. Place scones onto the baking trays.
- Gather the trimmings, lightly bring them together and pat the dough out again to cut out more scones.
- Bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until well risen and golden.
- For fruit scones, add in ⅓ cup sultanas or raisins at Step 5. For savoury scones, replace the vanilla, orange zest and sugar with ½ cup of grated mature cheddar cheese and 1 tablespoon finely chopped chives, added in at Step 5; top with a little extra cheese and a light dusting of paprika.
Makes 15 scones.
It’s not a proper birthday without something sweet, so how about this Chocolate Biscuit Cake? The recipe belonged to Carolyn’s mother, and Carolyn made it for Princes William and Harry when they were young. They enjoyed it so much that, many years later, Prince William chose to have the cake as his Groom’s cake at his wedding. “This very rich flowerless cake is perfect for any celebration,” says Carolyn.
Chocolate Biscuit Cake
One 8inch round or square cake tin or flan ring or a 1lb loaf tin, approximately 6¼ x 4¼ inches, 2¾ inches deep
12oz butter (3 sticks)
3/4 cup golden syrup
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup dark chocolate
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup pistachios
1/2 cup soft, plump dried figs, sliced
1lb digestive biscuits, crushed
2 cups dark chocolate
2/3 cup white chocolate
Selection of small chocolate sticks and dark and white Maltesers or Whoppers
- Melt the butter with the golden syrup in a heavy based pan. Do not let it boil.
- Remove from the heat and add the cocoa powder, dark chocolate and vanilla extract.
- Stir until you have a very smooth, glossy mixture.
- Add the pistachios, figs and crushed biscuits to the chocolate mixture and stir well.
- Line the base and sides of the cake tin with baking parchment or plastic wrap.
- Place the mixture into the tin and press it down. (If you are using a square tin, make sure you press it down well into the corners.)
- Leave to cool at room temperature before covering and chilling in the fridge. It will take about 2 hours to set completely firm.
- When set, remove from the tin and place it on a cooling rack.
- Melt the dark chocolate and white chocolate separately.
- Spread the dark chocolate all over the cake.
- Decorate with the Maltesers before the chocolate sets, so that they stick to the cake. Position chocolate sticks as desired and drizzle with the white chocolate.
- Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Keeps for up 2 weeks, although it seldom lasts that long, once people know that it is there!
You can replace the pistachios with pecans, toasted almonds or macadamia nuts.
You can replace the figs with raisins, sultanas or dried cherries.
For a festive holiday treat, use glacé cherries and dried apricots that have been soaked in cherry brandy.
For a children’s party cake, decorate with Smarties or M&M’s.
How about treating yourself to Carolyn’s cookbook, The Royal Touch: Simply Stunning Home Cooking from a Royal Chef.? No doubt Her Majesty would approve 🙂 The book contains 100 recipes and a plethora of intimate stories and personal letters from her time living at Kensington Palace. Even if you don’t enjoy cooking, I predict you’ll love the book for its gorgeous photography alone.
Do you plan to prepare a special recipe to celebrate the Queen’s birthday? Share your plans in the comments —