The country of Uganda is where this month’s featured grantee, Brick by Brick Partners, is located. There are lots of fabulous Ugandan recipes on the Dining for Women website. A peek there will yield all kinds of mouthwatering dishes that represent the wonderful cuisine of East Africa. I highly recommend making some of them. Yum!
In doing my research for this month’s Proven Platter, I came across several references to a sweet Ugandan treat called a Queen Cake. I wondered if the name evokes the time, from 1894 to 1962, when Uganda was ruled as a protectorate of the British Empire, but I was unable to confirm for sure. I would love to know the answer to that question, so please email me if you have any insight!
I was able to track down a number of different Queen Cake recipes. It’s clear that Queen Cake is a simple, sponge-type cake: lighter than a quick-bread-style muffin and much less sweet than a cupcake. I fooled around with various versions of the recipe, converted the metric measurements of the ingredients, and decided to add a cinnamon-sugar topping – which is not traditional. But since cinnamon is a spice commonly used in the cuisine of East Africa, I feel OK about bending the rules a bit.
I learned Queen Cake is available at street stalls in places like Kampala, the capital city, and typically eaten with coffee in the morning or as a light snack in the afternoon. It seems to be a uniquely nostalgic favorite – an example of a food that is crave-worthy because it represents something about the place Ugandans call home, which is a universal phenomenon that explains a lot about scrapple…
I’m so happy to have learned about Queen Cake. I can’t help but think of the smiling face of a happy, healthy little girl in Uganda, biting into a just-baked one. I sure hope you enjoy them, too!
Yield: 12 jumbo or 24 standard-size cakes
Cooking notes/tips: These cakes are baked in a muffin pan. I used a jumbo-sized version, but a standard-size pan would work just as well. I give suggested baking times for each, below. Use the leftover sugar-cinnamon mixture for toast!
3 cups cake flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ¼ cups sugar, divided
1 ¼ cups neutral-flavored oil (canola or grapeseed)
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ½ cups whole milk
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
Place oven rack in middle position. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare muffin tin with non-stick cooking spray.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, and kosher salt in a large bowl. Set aside.
In a separate large bowl, beat 1 cup of sugar and the oil together until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then beat in the vanilla extract.
Add one-third of flour mixture and mix well. Then blend in half of the milk. Repeat with another third of the flour mixture and the second half of milk. Mix in the final third of the flour mixture.
Fill muffin pan ¾ of the way full.
In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ¼ cup of sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle ¼ teaspoon or so over each cake. You won’t need all of it.
If using a jumbo-size muffin pan, bake for 30 minutes, until light golden brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean. If using a standard-size pan, bake for 20 minutes and test with toothpick. Bake a few minutes more, if needed.
Remove pan from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Remove cakes from pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.
Recipe and photo credit: Traci Barr