Queen Cakes

In cake aristocracy, we have the Lady Baltimore (His Lordship has one, too), the Regent, the Prince of Wales, and of course king cakes. Then there are queen cakes, somewhat larger than cupcakes, baked in ribbed “patty-pans.”

The recipe is like a pound cake’s, but an essential ingredient is currents. Currants were popular in this country up until the early 20th century when their production and shipment were banned under federal law in 1911 because the plants were unjustly tagged as vectors for a timber blight. The ban was later relegated to local jurisdictions, but it’s unlikely you’ll find currants–fresh, frozen, or dried–in markets. You might find  Zante currants, which are actually dried seedless grapes, which on most days I call raisins.

Me, I cut to the chase and use Sun-Maid.

Queen Cakes

Cream 2 cups softened butter with 2 cups sugar, then beat in 8 eggs one at a time. Mix the batter very well, then add a teaspoon vanilla; a half teaspoon mace, and 2 tablespoons brandy or rosewater are traditional, but optional. Sift a teaspoon baking powder with 4 cups cake flour. Mix very well until stiff, but not dry.  Add your “currants” liberally, but toss them with a bit of corn starch first, since they tend to clump. Use softened butter to grease your “patty-pans” (cupcake pans to us commoners) and paper liners. Fill cups a little over half-way with batter, and bake at 350 on the middle rack until golden and springy. Allow to cool completely before removing from pans. Feel free to top with royal icing.

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