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Brits on platinum pudding quest for queen’s jubilee | Eat/Drink

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Baker Claire Ptak poses with her coconut pudding cake during an interview with AFP at her Violet Bakery in east London January 27, 2022. — AFP pic
Baker Claire Ptak poses with her coconut pudding cake during an interview with AFP at her Violet Bakery in east London January 27, 2022. — AFP pic

LONDON, Feb 2 — “It would be such an honour!”: Amateur British cooks are battling to create the best Platinum Jubilee pudding to mark 70 years of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign.

Any baker without professional qualifications living in the United Kingdom and aged eight or over can take part.

The aim is to create a pudding worthy of the queen that is at the same time simple enough to be recreated by millions of Britons celebrating the historic event at street parties throughout the realm.

Party plum trifle, raspberry and white chocolate cheesecake or royal lemon tart: social media is already awash with novel ideas from proud chefs.

Samantha Smith, 31, has created the “Elizabeth Sponge”, a crown-shaped cake topped with blueberries and raspberries, inspired by the classic Victoria Sponge, itself named after another monarch.

“I kept it quite basic and then just spiced it up a bit with soaking the fruit in Dubonnet which is apparently the queen’s favourite tipple,” the lawyer based in Rugby, central England, told AFP.

Queen’s taste

The main challenge facing budding bakers is to know just which flavours the queen prefers.

“No one knows for sure what she likes,” said culinary historian Regula Ysewijn, also one of the competition’s judges.

“It’s something that people, the press in the UK have been trying to find out for as long as she has been on the throne, it’s a closely guarded secret.”

The rumour is that Her Majesty was particularly fond of the “Groom’s Cake” served at the wedding of her grandson William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

“That’s like a cake made with biscuits and then chocolate in between,” Ysewijn told AFP.

“So we know that she likes that, so she probably really does like chocolate.”

Being the Queen of England “she must love a British pudding, traditional pudding. So people can really go very traditional and have a steamed pudding if they want to,” notes Ysewijn.

Besides taste and originality, judges are hoping that “people will look at the long and exciting life that the queen has already led and all the achievements that she has done and take inspiration from that in the pudding,” she said.

“And of course it has to be fit for the Queen so it has to look pretty too,” Ysewijn said. “We want the queen to be completely amazed when she sees the pudding.”

Sweet immortality

Claire Ptak has already had the honour of coming up with a pudding idea for the marriage of William’s brother Harry, to Meghan Markle in 2018 after she was invited by Kensington Palace.

She came up with six ideas, including chocolate, rhubarb, fruit cake and vanilla, with the royal couple eventually opting for a lemon elderflower cake.

“I was pretty excited about all of the people that were going to be at that wedding, eating my cake and to have the queen eat my cake was pretty remarkable,” Ptak, who runs bakery-cafe Violet in East London, told AFP.

Now it’s the food writer’s turn to give advice to up-and-coming chefs: “Just research on what she loves to eat. Do some research on colours that she likes.”

The winner gets a selection of products from Fortnum and Mason, the famous London food shop that is organising the competition.

But more importantly, the winning chef’s recipe has the chance of entering into cooking history, joining such immortals as Coronation Chicken, invented for when Queen Elizabeth took the throne in 1953 and still popular today.

“If I was to win, it would be completely surreal seeing my entry at everyone’s street parties in the summer!” said Smith.

“The platinum jubilee celebrations are our opportunity to thank her Majesty for the past 70 years of leadership and really come together as a country after a difficult couple of years,” she said. — AFP

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