I was thrilled to learn that Prince William had chosen the Chocolate Biscuit Cake recipe that is in my book Eating Royally, recipes and remembrances from a palace kitchen for his wedding cake because Chocolate biscuit cake is also his grand mothers favorite cake and a recipe palace chefs have been making for decades. I used to prepare it for both of them when they had tea together. The Queen would request the cake in the menu book for Sunday tea when she knew her grandson would be joining her from Eton.
Afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace consists of two types of sandwiches, scones, a plate of small pastries (e.g. chocolate éclairs, raspberry tartlets) and a large cake for the Queen to cut a slice from with her Earl Grey tea.
“Cut cakes” can be anything from a fruit cake, a ginger cake, perhaps a jam and cream sponge but at least once a month chocolate biscuit cake will appear on the menu. It is, after all Her Majesty’s favorite cake and while she may enjoy a slice of all of the other cakes for tea, as soon as tea is over she has no desire to see those cakes again. The remaining cake is dispatched to the staff dining room the following day.
When afternoon tea includes Chocolate biscuit cake however, the rules are different. Her Majesty loves this cake so much she takes a mental picture of how much she is sending back to the kitchens each day. It is the only cake that returns again and again to the royal tea table each day until it has all gone. I remember her on one occasion instructing her Page to call the kitchen to ask who had been eating her cake.
I always made sure never to put chocolate biscuit cake on the menu on a Thursday knowing her majesty would be spending the weekend at Windsor Castle because it meant that the cake returning from Thursday’s tea table had to be wrapped and carried by hand to Windsor Castle for her to enjoy over the weekend.