More than a half century ago it was traditional to make a Crown Cake for the December 8th Feast of the Immaculate Conception. The elaborate crown, bejeweled with candy and silver sugar beads, made quite a statement and certainly took enormous patience to create. The picture of the cake dates from the 1950s and appears to be hand-tinted, as was commonplace in that bygone era.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. In a mixing bowl, add the butter, milk, orange and almond extract and blend until softened. Add the flour, then mix. Add the eggs and yolk and beat 1 minute longer with the mixer.
Pour the batter into a lightly greased and floured 9-inch tube pan. Bake at 375°F for 1 hour or until done. Cool in the pan for about 15 minutes, then loosen from the sides of the pan with a spatula or knife. Turn cake right side up on a rack to cool before frosting. Place the cooled cake on a large plate with the wide base upright.
To Make the Frosting: In the top of a double boiler, combine the sugar, water, egg whites, corn syrup, cream of tartar and a pinch of salt. Beat with a mixer at low speed for 30 seconds, then set the pan over (but not touching) simmering water. Continue beating at high speed for about 7 minutes or until it’s stiff and glossy. Remove from the heat add the vanilla and beat for another 1 to 2 minutes.
To make a Crown: Cut 2 strips of thin cardboard about 20 inches long and 7/8 inch wide. Bend each strip downward in the middle. Around the sides of the cake, cut 4 narrow slits, equidistant from each other and about 1-1/2 inches up from the base. Place 1 strip of cardboard across the cake; bend the ends securely inward and insert the ends in the slits in the opposite side of the cake to fasten securely. Place the second strip at right angles to the first and insert the ends in the cake in the same manner. If necessary, tie the strips together in the center with a fine thread. Cut a circle from cardboard and place over the center hole in the top of the cake.
Take half of the frosting and spread over the top of the cake and down the sides to within 1-1/2 inches of the bottom. With the remaining frosting, add a few drops of yellow food coloring and use to cover the upper and underside of the cardboard strips and to frost around the base. Reserve a small amount for decorations. At the base, bring the yellow frosting up in the form of triangles, making 3 triangles in each of the four sections formed by the cardboard strips. Have the center triangle in each section extend to the top of the cake. Outline the edges of the cardboard strips and the triangles with silver sugar beads. Place a square, clear, bright-colored candy on each triangle and at the base of the cardboard strips to resemble jewels. Then place a silver beads at the four corners of every candy. Place 4 more candies on each cardboard strip.
For the center of the crown, use a flat red lollypop which has been removed from its stick. Make a Maltese Cross on each flat side with some of the reserved yellow frosting and decorate with pieces of silver beads. With a small amount of frosting, fasten 2 silver beads to the side edges of the lollypop and a large silver beads at the top to resemble pearls. Then fasten the lollypop to the intersection of the cardboard strips with more frosting.
Sprinkle shredded coconut over the white frosted areas of and around the base of the cake. Scatter chocolate chips in the coconut at the base at 2-inch intervals to resemble ermine. Make sure to send us pictures of your creation! Send any pictures to [email protected]