Not that I need an excuse to get out my commemorative china and bake a cake and drink champagne, but the Diamond Jubilee was just the perfect opportunity to do all three. There were also a lot of photographs of the queen over the years on The Guardian's website, so I thought I would share a couple of my favorites:
Left: 1968, Right: 1975
Left: 1968, Right: 1975
Now, on to the cake. I had originally wanted to make a Battenberg, but it makes two cakes (because of the two colors of cake) and let's face it, I'm pretty bad at the whole trimming and reassembling thing. So, I thought I would make a Battenberg-inspired marzipan-wrapped Jubilee Almond Cake. It turned out really well and it was a lot less work! Plus, it's covered in pearl dragées, because (a) they're terribly festive and (b) Queen Elizabeth is rarely photographed without her pearls.*
Jubilee Almond Cake
For the cake:
1/3 lb unsalted butter, very soft
2/3 cup well-packed demerara or turbinado sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup almond meal (or ground almonds)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
For the marzipan coat:
1/3 cup apricot jam, warmed
1/2 lb marzipan
powdered sugar, for rolling out marzipan
Preheat the oven to 325 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 together the butter and sugar than beat in the eggs (if the butter is soft enough, you won't need any electric beaters). Stir in the flour in three or four additions then stir in the almond meal, baking powder and salt. Make sure the flours are completely incorporated into the batter. Stir in the extracts then pour batter into the prepared tin and level off. Bake in the middle of the oven for 50-60 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool the cake in its tin for a few minutes, then remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack. To make the marzipan coat, roll the marzipan out (dusting everything with powdered sugar) so that it's big enough to cover the top and sides of the cake. Brush the top and sides of the cake with jam, leaving any large apricot chunks behind. Cover with the marzipan, seal and trim. Press dragées into the top of the marzipan and leave until set.
Adapted from "Battenberg Cake" and "Madeira Loaf Cake" at BBC Good Food.
*I love this set of photos. And I love that Elizabeth (both as princess and as queen) is wearing the same jewelry. It's a good argument for buying quality pieces. Of course, it helps to have generous royal relatives!