BitterSweet

An Obsession with All Things Handmade and Home-Cooked


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Jubilant Jubilee

Scurrying about the airport with the urgency of a mouse in a maze, darting in between shelves teaming with overpriced knickknacks, there were mere minutes to gather last minute rations before our seven hour flight was due to depart. After hoarding every last piece of fresh fruit in the terminal, only a few pounds and pence still rattled heavily in my pocket and there was still the matter of entertainment to attend to. A diversion, anything to take my weary mind off the mountains of work accumulating at home, was essential to surviving the last leg of this trip. Glancing skyward at the towering stacks of magazines, at the top of the heap lay the answer to my prayers: Vegetarian Living Magazine. No time to double-check the content, it was one last dash to the register and back to the gate before plopping into a rigid, non-reclining, barely-padded seat. I steeled myself for a long ride.

That impulse buy of a magazine turned out to be a boon, both to passing the time and getting my creative wheels spinning. Incredibly, it was there that I found the most fascinating cultural differences, and not just in a few exchanged words and alternate spellings. Jubilee was practically the feature of the entire issue, and yet somehow this event was not one I had ever heard of before. Was it really such a big deal?

Well, when you’re the queen of England for a whole 60 years, yeah, it’s kind of a big deal. The Diamond Jubilee is not exactly an event that comes around every year… Or every century, for that matter. Though I may have been a bit late to get clued in, now I wouldn’t have missed this holiday for anything!

Is there anything more English than the iconic Battenberg cake? Other than fish and chips, perhaps, this elegant tea cake has graced many a plate since its invention back in the late 1800’s for Queen Victoria. Traditionally only four checkered squares of pink and yellow make up the interior design, but I wanted to go all out for this party. Expanding my cake to accommodate a Neapolitan palate, strawberry, chocolate, and vanilla cake meet in a blanket of sweet marzipan, and the whole assemblage is glued together with seedless strawberry jam.

Admittedly, the recipe is not quite ready for prime time, but it certainly was an ideal accompaniment to a spot of English tea. The good news is that it looks far more complicated than it really was to bake, thanks to the aid of a handy checkerboard cake set. After a few more tweaks to achieve fluffier, fuller layers, I’d say that this could be a creation fit for a queen. Hopefully it won’t take me until the next Diamond Jubilee to figure it out!

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