Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Feasts and Festivals: Royal Oak Day

Lemon Half-Pound Cake

1/2 lb very soft unsalted grass-fed butter
1/2 lb turbinado or demerara sugar (about 1 cup, well-packed)
1/2 lb free-range eggs (you want those orange yolks), measured in their shells (about 4 large eggs)
1/2 lb unbleached all-purpose flour (2 cups using the dip-and-sweep method)
1 tablespoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
zest from 1 organic lemon

1/3 cup granulated sugar
juice from 1 1/2 lemons

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line an 8 1/2"x 4 1/2"x 2 1/2" loaf tin with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter with a wooden spoon. Beat in the sugar. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each. Your batter will look curdled, but will be fine as soon as you add the flour.

Stir in the flour, a bit at a time, adding the baking powder and salt with the last addition. Make sure all the flour is mixed in, but don't beat too much. Grate the lemon zest into the mixing bowl and stir to combine. Reserve the rest of the lemon to make the glaze.

Spoon batter into the prepared loaf tin and level off. Bake in the middle of the oven 45 to 50 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To make the glaze, put the granulated sugar in a small mixing bowl and whisk the lemon juice into the sugar and keep whisking for a bit to help the sugar dissolve. Brush the glaze over the top of the cake, being careful not to brush on too much at once, because the extra will just roll down the side of the cake and pool on the counter. Let the cake sit a while to soak up the glaze before storing in an airtight container.

Serves 12

Adapted from "Lemon Drizzle Cake" at BBC Good Food.com.


Though I say it myself, this is really good cake. It's nice and moist (and lemony). It's also really easy, which makes it even more satisfying. No, it doesn't really have anything to do with Royal Oak Day, but I felt like making a nice lemony pound cake to take to a Memorial Day party this weekend. It was so nice to have a three-day weekend, especially since Paul has been working fifty- and sixty-hour weeks.

Royal Oak Day is a commemoration of the restoration of the monarchy in 1660 after a decade of horrible puritans in charge. Oliver Cromwell even outlawed Christmas celebrations! What a tool. Even after they'd beheaded Charles's father, the English people were glad to have a king again, especially one as charming and fun-loving as Charles II. After years in rather dingy exile (first as a "poor relation" at the French court, then hiding out in Holland) Charles was ready for enjoyment and really applied himself to earning the nickname "The Merry Monarch." What a relief after the depressingly earnest Commonwealth!

You might be wondering why today is called "Royal Oak Day" instead of "Restoration Day" or something sensible like that. At the Battle of Worcester in 1651, Charles escaped the Parliamentarians by hiding in an oak tree. Thus, that noble tree preserved the monarchy. The (also-restored) pre-revolution Parliament resolved
That a Bill be prepared for keeping of a perpetual Anniversary, for a Day of Thanksgiving to God, for the great Blessing and Mercy he hath been graciously pleased to vouchsafe to the People of these Kingdoms, after their manifold and grievous Sufferings, in the Restoration of his Majesty, with Safety, to his People and Kingdoms: And that the Nine-and-twentieth Day of May, in every Year, being the Birth Day of his Sacred Majesty, and the Day of his Majesty's Return to his Parliament, be yearly set apart for that Purpose.1
The Royal Oak Day holiday had caused problems over the years between Whigs and Tories, especially after the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745, and was repealed in 1859 along with all other "permanent political anniversaries."2

Left: Charles, between 8 and 10 years old (adorable!) 

  1. 'House of Commons Journal Volume 8: 30 May 1660', Journal of the House of Commons: volume 8: 1660-1667 (1802), pp. 49-50. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=26202 Date accessed: 29 May 2012.
  2. "Royal Oak" in Ronald Hutton, The Stations of the Sun (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), 290-291.


  1. "he even outlawed Christmas celebrations. What a tool!" -- Haha! You're so right! Love that.

    This looks so yummy! I've never made a pound cake, but I always enjoy them. Might just have to try this out!

  2. Mmmm...I love a nice lemony dessert!

    I missed you! I'm glad to see you posting again. :)

  3. Yummo - this looks delicious! Gotta love a lemon cake

  4. Love the look of that pound cake - could go for a slice right now!

  5. Thanks for sharing about Royal Oak Day - no Christmas? Cromwell was indeed a tool! Your lemon cake sounds luscious and perfect for a party, and it's so nice you had 3 days with Paul home. It's great to read your posts again.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.