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Queen Mother's Cake


The Honourable Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon,
Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother (mother of Queen Elizabeth II)

There are repeated, unverified, stories that HM, the late Queen Mother, was nicknamed 'cake' for her extraordinary fondness for sweet bakery products. There are also a very large number of published receipts for various confections named in her honour.

The most widely reproduced seems to be a dense flour-less cake made with chopped almonds and chocolate. It is said, with little or no evidence, to have been a favourite of the Queen Mother, and to have originated with either her friend, the Polish pianist Jan Smeterlin (18921967), or either of the food writers Clementine Paddleford or Maida Heatter.

Original Receipt from 'Maida Heatter's book of great desserts', 1974

Queen Mothers Cake
6 ounces semisweet chocolate (coarsely cut or broken)
6 ounces butter
3/4 cup sugar
6 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cups almonds, finely ground
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (coarsely cut or broken)
Preheat oven to 375F. Butter a 9"x 2-1/2" springform pan and line the bottom of the pan with liner paper. Butter the paper and dust with fine, dry bread crumbs.
Melt chocolate in top of double boiler over hot water on low heat. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
With an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add sugar and beat at moderately high speed for 2-3 minutes. Add the yolks one at a time, beating after each addition until yolk is thoroughly incorporated.
Beat in the chocolate and (on lowest speed) gradually beat in the almonds, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Transfer to large mixing bowl.
In large bowl of an electric mixer, beat egg whites with salt until they hold a definite shape, but are not dry. Stir a large spoonful of the whites into the chocolate and then, in three additions, fold in the balance of egg whites. Turn into pan. Level the batter in the pan.
Bake for 20 minutes at 375. Reduce oven temperature to 350 and bake an additional 50 minutes. Do not overbake.
Remove cake from oven and place on wet (but wrung out) folded towel. Let stand 20 minutes. Remove sides of pan. Place a rack over cake and invert (carefully!) Remove bottom of springform pan and the paper lining. Cover with another rack and invert again to cool right side up. (Cake will be about 1.75" high.).
When cake is completely cool, transfer to cake plate and ice. Cake must be at room temperature when iced, if it's too warm, icing will melt; if it's too cold, icing will be dull.
Prepare icing: Scale cream in medium saucepan over moderate heat, until it begins to form small bubbles around the edge. While still over heat, add instant coffee and stir briskly until dissolved.
Add chocolate. After one minute, remove from heat and stir with wire whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer to a small bowl, or place bottom of saucepan in bowl of cold water, to stop cooking.
Let mixture stand at room temp for 15 minutes or more, stirring occasionally until it reaches room temperature. Stir (do not beat) and pour over the top of the cake.

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