I decided this last Bank Holiday Monday was a good enough reason to bake a comforting chocolate cake. The state funeral of Queen Elizabeth II was arranged for 19th September 2022. It was a never to be forgotten piece of history. It was the most well orchestrated, flawless public event I have ever witnessed. It was of course years in the planning – so the organisation appeared to be on point. It was peak British pomp and pageantry. A spectacle the world will never forget.
I did find myself – swirling in emotions during parts of the ceremonies. Not especially for the Queen herself or her family. I never knew them, they will never know me. More about the certainty that it cemented about life. Death is coming for all of us. Death is a part of life that we have to accept, timely or untimely. I hope that this family do have time now to reflect on their immense loss and I hope that they take comfort in the many years of happy memories that they will have of their beloved family member. Whatever opinions are floating around about the monarchy (there are plenty) they are still human, they are still in mourning and the sorrow is still fresh. Whether they have signed up for this or not, like the Archbishop Justin Welby said they are ‘grieving in the brighest spotlight’. I cannot imagine what that must be like.
Unlike many others in the UK and around the world, I was not struck by the desire to engage in any activities to see or be part of the Royal mourning but instead I found myself reflecting on my own loss of my father, who, had he been alive today, would be the same age as King Charles III. I miss my father terribly and I still cannot believe that he has passed. It was nearly 8 years ago but in some regards it still feels like yesterday. His passing a tragedy, a life cut short by a horrible illness. It was painful to watch him suffer. It was a relief when the suffering ended but I was struck the just how strong the pull of death was when the time came. It feels like my grief comes and goes like the tides of the sea. Now I am battling with a tsunami of feelings about the loss of our own family figure-head. I think of all the things that he has missed over the past years. I think of the things that he will never know about.
It was interesting listening to the first ceremony at Westminster Abbey – I noted that it was very much focussed very much on Queen Elizabeth’s faith and hope in Christ and how it comforted and motivated her. Stepping into that mindset, that space, you could imagine that for her, death was not the end. We will never know, if that is true, however it was clear the power of such belief. It is not be understated or underestimated. I cannot anymore buy into such ideas but there was a time when I very much did hold these things to a truth to be savioured and held close. And I know just how much it soothes and consoles.
I finally left my living room sofa, 6 hours later, after watching the last public ceremony at Windsor and felt rather sad. It is sad. You can’t escape that. And yet you can still understand that there are questions to be asked about what happens next. What should happen next. It is also valid to look back and reflect on the past with a clear-eyed understanding of the impact of the behaviour of well-established institutions , the well-oiled machinery and calculated systems designed and used to gain and retain power, wealth, dominion. It is important to challenge the ideas that some people are worth more, deserve more than others. I don’t know how to change it, but I know that it is not right. It happens all over the world and there are many versions of the name thing. The nature of the worst of humanity. Let’s hope we can do and be better.
Yes. All a bit gloomy…
There is always (for now at least) cake…
So I baked a moist, sweet, chocolatey chocolate cake. It’s really to make with a runny but no-fuss batter. I used the icing from the cake that I made for my birthday in July. Yes 😳, seemed that the mixture of coconut oil, sugar, coca powder and chocolate, was happy enough in the fridge and with a little bit of warming, spread nicely over my chocolate cakes. Don’t ask…
We had a slice after dinner and it was SO GOOD. I then took two slices to eat with my lunch today at work. There is still more cake so I know what I will be having for my afternoon snack tomorrow, and the day after that, until it’s all finished.
Here is the recipe…
For the icing
- 100 g olive, coconut or vegetable oil
- 65 g dark muscovado sugar
- 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 200 g dark chocolate finely chopped
For the cake
- 200 g plain or light spelt flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
- 75 g cocoa powder
- 250 g dark muscovado sugar
- 75 g olive, coconut or vegetable oil plus extra for greasing
- 1 ½ teaspoons vinegar (I use cider)
- Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease a 20cm round springform cake tin with oil and line the base with baking paper.
- Put all the icing ingredients except the chocolate into a saucepan with 60ml cold water. Heat until everything is melted, making sure the mixture doesn’t boil, then turn off the heat, add the chocolate at once and leave it to sit. After about a minute, the chocolate should have melted. Whisk until you have a thick icing and set aside. It should be cool by the time the cake has baked and cooled.
- For the cake, whisk the flour, bicarbonate of soda, a good pinch of sea salt and the cocoa together in a bowl. Make sure there are no lumps of bicarbonate of soda.
- In a separate bowl, mix the sugar, 375ml of just-boiled water, the oil and vinegar. Stir the mixture into the dry ingredients, then pour into the prepared tin (it will be quite a wet batter). Bake for 30-40 minutes.
- When it is ready, the cake should have pulled away from the edges of the tin and a skewer inserted into the centre will come out clean. Cool for 30 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Spoon over the icing and decorate as you like.
- grated chocolate
- fresh flowers
- chopped candied nuts
- chopped stem ginger
- crumbled chocolate
- flakes of sea salt