Old Fashioned Queen Cakes, or just Queen Cakes date back to at least the 18th Century. They are also, in some places, known as Fairy Cakes. They are not seen so much these days but were certainly still very popular in the 1950s and 1960s.
The cakes are smaller than muffins or cup cakes. They are made in a bun tin, fairy cake cases or in fluted moulds. Indeed there are a variety of moulds which can be used for Queen Cakes.
The cakes themselves are very simple to make and usually contain currants and use ground mace as a flavouring. In some instances some brandy is used too.
For modern tastes I am sure other dried fruits, such as glace cherries or cranberries would be good too, as long as they were chopped into smaller pieces.
I based my recipe on one from Mrs Beeton, an iconic cook from the 19th Century who authored a very popular book. I varied her recipe very slightly to take account of modern meaures etc, and added mace which her recipe didn’t include.
Mrs Beeton details an unusual method for mixing the cake batter, compared to how it is down today. She adds in the flour to the butter before any other ingredients. I don’t know if that was common in those days, but I did follow that method. She also seems to mix the batter for quite a long time which wouldn’t be done today. But, again, I followed that method and it worked well. However since she would have been working by hand I reduced the time as I used my hand mixer.
The cakes are, as I mentioned, smaller than what we might usually eat these days. But I remember eating them as a child and enjoying them very much. The texture is different to cupcakes or muffins too. Indeed the texture is more akin to that of a Farmhouse cake.
My Queen Cakes
I made my cakes in fluted moulds, paper fairy cake cases and in a bun tin. A muffin tin could have been used too, though not filling the cups to keep the size small.
I used about 40g(about 1 1/2 ounces) of cake mix for each cake, which worked out to 17 cakes. However I actually think 35g would have been fine too and that would have made 20 cakes.
Mrs Beeton’s recipe suggested baking for 20 to 25 minutes, I suppose more due to oven temperatures than anything else. I baked mine for 20 minutes at 180C/160C Fan/350F and they rose well and browned on the top. A skewer, when poked into the centre, came out clean so I knew the cakes were baked.
I removed them from the oven and transferred them to a wire rack to cool. Then I had a taste. They did taste very good. That little bit of mace was enough to flavour them well, with a hint of the lemon too. The texture was good too, moist but firm.
I enjoyed the cakes with a cup of tea but I also ate some as a dessert with custard.
Another quick and easy recipe is Pecan Tassies.
Old Fashioned Queen CakesCourse: CakesCuisine: BritishDifficulty: Easy
227g(1 2/3 cups + 2 1/2 tbsp, base on scooping packed flour into a 250ml cup) plain flour
113g(1/2 cups + 1 tbsp) caster sugar
113g(1 stick) softened unsalted butter
70g(1/2 cup) currants, soaked, drained and patted dry
2 medium eggs(large in USA)
60ml(1/4 cup) double cream
2g(1/2 tsp) baking soda
1g(1/4 tsp) ground mace
grated zest from one lemon
- Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/350F.
- Grease the insides of fluted mini pans, or a bun pan, or line a bun pan with parchment paper.
- Place the butter into a bowl and whisk it until light and fluffy( I used my hand mixer).
- Add the flour, mace and baking soda and mix it in, on a low speed, until it is incorporated and the mixture is of a sandy texture.
- Add the sugar and currants and mix again until evenly distributed.
- Whisk the egg with the cream and the lemon zest.
- Pour it into the bowl with the dry mixture and beat for about one minute, if using a hand mixer, or about 5 minutes by hand. The mixture should be fully combined into a thick batter.
- Spoon the mixture, in equal portions, into 17 cases or moulds. That will be about 40g each.
- Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the cakes have risen and coloured nicely.
- Remove the cakes from the oven and turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.