Royal Christmas Cake 2014

As Anglophiles and wannabe pastry chefs are aware, preparation for the Royal Christmas Cake begins on Guy Fawkes Day.   Once they have burnt the effigy of “the Guido,” the Brits do their level best to set back culinary artistry several decades with the “Royal Christmas Cake.”   I have written often about this British assault on the palate, but sadly my wife doesn’t agree.  As a minor concession, she has agreed to soak the currants in whiskey rather than my fine brandy, but now that the marzipan has been hand-delivered by a recent courier from London this exercise in culinary futility is in full-flow.


Now, I don’t plan to bite the hand that feeds me, but I do intend to read what appears to be a fascinating book that was brought to my attention recently by Lord Cheseline of Maiden Lot: The Men Who Lost America, written by Andrew Jackson O’Shaughnessy. Sadly, I missed his talk in Chestertown, Maryland, but like most “folks” today, I relish true stories of gross incompetence rather than inspired leadership. Found below is an excerpt from The Men Who Lost America:


The loss of America was a stunning and unexpected defeat for the powerful British Empire. Common wisdom has held that incompetent military commanders and political leaders in Britain must have been to blame, but were they? This intriguing book makes a different argument. Weaving together the personal stories of ten prominent men who directed the British dimension of the war, historian Andrew O’Shaughnessy dispels the incompetence myth and uncovers the real reasons that rebellious colonials were able to achieve their surprising victory.


While I will no doubt be reading O’Shaughnessy’s ode to failure this Christmas while others wax poetic about the virtues of the Royal Christmas cake, I do hope that parents will avoid feeding this sugar-laden creation to young children before their naps. It is wise to avoid sugar highs!


  1. A comment from an irate reader from the UK

    Good Morning,

    Guy Fawkes night has long come and gone and all I have to show for my 2014 Christmas Cake is three cartons of sugar loaded peel and cherries sitting on my counter top to remind me to buy all the other necessary sugar loaded and fat loaded ingredients to add to the egg protein, alcohol and wholewheat flour! The sugar loaded ingredients will be left to soak in the alcohol until I find the hours to be around to mix all that goodness together and wait for it to cook.

    Then come Christmas Day evening when we are all sitting by the fire with stomachs full of sugar, fat, alcohol, protein and lots of windy vegetables someone will say, just before bed time, “Anyone want a cup of tea?” The reply will be a resounding “Yes please, and a piece of Christmas Cake”.
    So there! And everyone will go to bed totally content and full of sugar and caffeine and we will all sleep like babies!

    If by any chance the tea and cake are not had then the cake will remain intact and will become the Royal Birthday Cake 2014 and I will be a year older and still able to perform most of the functions I performed at an earlier age despite all those “sugar highs” I’ve experienced over the past 60+ years.

    I’m surprised that you, Rick May, have succumbed to all that “cods wallop” about no sugar highs for the latest generation. I say, let them try anything and everything that Grandma cooks for them, in moderation, otherwise where will all the traditions have gone? They will just turn up on the wrist watch that from which Google will chant: Generations past used to celebrate various holidays by…………..and they died! So don’t eat anything that isn’t organic, nut free, fat free, wheat free, sugar free and anything else free that you want to add to the list. Actually just sustain yourself with any designer,lab prepared substance produced by Apple, Google, Samsung, Microsoft……… and post your menu on Facebook or Twitter so that we can all share the goodness that will prevent us from leaving this earth.

    Well Rick, I had no intention of spending my valuable time by writing this monologue but I hope you appreciate the stimulation your posts create for the “mature” mind of some of your readers.
    Feel free to post some of my comments if you think anything from the Brits is worth publishing.

    Hope you are both well and enjoying yourselves. Sit down and have a cup of tea with Corrine and her parents. Speak soon, take care.

  2. Thanks Jacques

    I am happy that some remnants of society still savor British traditions. As you know, I still favor traditions such as reading a hardcopy book rather than on my iPad, but the Christmas Cake is something that will probably go the way of the DoDo Bird. In any event, eat your “windy” veggies and enjoy the festivities.

    Rick (the GourMay Grouch)

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