Now if I were to tell you that this pineapple layer cake comes from a booklet of recipes to celebrate the coronation you would probably think I was talking about Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953. And you’d be wrong! This recipe comes from a souvenir supplement presented with “Woman’s World” magazine in January 1937 and it relates to the coronation of King George VI, who was the father of our current queen.
There are many fascinating recipes contained in this slim pamphlet and many have evocative names such as “empire cake”, “Ladies in waiting”, “Windsor cake”, and “Princess Elizabeth cakes”. It was tough to pick just one recipe but the pineapple cake interested me because there is no icing between the layers, just finely chopped pineapple and this struck me as rather tasty!
It’s amazing to make a recipe and know that a housewife was making exactly the same cake over 70 years ago; I know it would have been a woman baking it as the foreword makes it quite clear: “there will be few wives and mothers who are not called upon to see to the preparations for a party”.
I forgive them a bit when, further on, they add: “the first thing that take one’s eye on entering a room with the table laid for a party tea are the plates of tempting-looking cakes and pastries.” Here is a hard-working lady making her cake; the simple line drawing tells us so much about the age– her clothes and hairstyle, the equipment on her counter top...it may just be a pamphlet to some, but I see it as social history:
As with many older recipes there’s little guidance as to oven temperature, cooking time or which size tins to use, so I’ve added this based on what I know from my baking. Also, to my eyes, the original quantities looked mean so I’ve gone for 1.5x the quantities and it is these that are listed below. The recipe also measures liquid in cups; I’m pretty certain they don’t mean the US cup measurements but rather teacups. Luckily, I have a teacup so used that and then poured it into a measuring jug to find out the quantities which I have listed in the recipe below.
The finely chopped pineapple filling was a revelation – when you eat the cake it tastes like pineapple jam but without any of the effort of making jam! The one thing I would say is that next time I would use twice as much pineapple filling. It added a fresh zinginess to the rich sponge. I’m glad I used pineapple juice in the glace icing too as this added an extra dimension of flavour.
The icing was a glorious smooth dome – appreciated by those of us with a sweet tooth!
There is often a trade-off with sponge; if it’s crumbly and light to eat it’s a pain in the backside to cut neat slices! I would always rather the taste and texture was right – hence these rather crumbly, raggedy looking slices!
This photo of the cake on my fork shows the light, airy texture of the sponge:
For the cake and filling:
170g vegetable fat – I couldn’t face this and used unsalted butter!
300g caster sugar
3 eggs, separated
340g self raising flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
50ml pineapple juice or syrup – I used juice and found I needed a little extra
Some pineapple rings or chunks – not hugely helpful! I used a small can with a drained weight of 260g (next time I would use double this amount)
For the icing:
340g icing sugar
Dash of vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons water – I used pineapple juice
To decorate (optional) – pineapple rings or chunks
Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C/350°F/Gas mark 4.
Line the bases of two 20cm loose bottomed round sandwich tins.
Beat together the butter and sugar until thick and creamy and well combined.
Beat in the egg yolks.
Sift together the flour and baking powder then beat into the egg mixture.
Beat in the milk.
Beat in the pineapple juice or syrup – don’t be afraid to add a dash more if the batter feels heavy.
In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks, then fold into the batter.
Spoon into the prepared tins and level the surfaces.
Bake for 30-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cakes comes out clean. Mine took 40 minutes.
Place on a wire rack until the tins are cool enough to handle, then turn out of the tins and leave to cool completely.
Cut the pineapple as finely as possible, ideally so it’s in shreds.
Place one of the sponges on a plate, flat side up and scatter the pineapple over the top.
Place the other sponge, flat side down, on the pineapple to sandwich.
Now make the icing: place the icing sugar in a bowl and add the vanilla.
Add enough pineapple juice or syrup to make a smooth, thick paste that will spread nicely over the sponge.
Pour the icing over the sponge and allow to set. Don’t worry if it drizzles over the sides.
When the icing is set, decorate with some pineapple (optional)– don’t do this too early of the pineapple might ooze into the icing and make a mess.
Bask in the glory of the wonderful thing you have made.