One great way to honor someone you’ve loved and lost — and to connect with your memories of them — is to make a favorite recipe they shared with you. Bonus points if it’s written in the person’s own hand or typed with an old-fashioned typewriter. So anyone mourning the death of Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on September 8, at age 96, after more than 70 years on Britain’s throne, may want to pull together a few ingredients and make the Queen’s “drop scones” (or pancakes, as we Americans call them), following the recipe that, according to the National Archives Catalog, she shared with U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1960.
“Dear Mr. President,” she wrote, in a four-page letter dated January 24, 1960. “Seeing a picture of you in today’s newspaper standing in front of a barbecue grilling quail reminded me that I had never sent you the recipe of the drop scones, which I served you at Balmoral. I hasten to do so, and I hope you will find them successful.”
Although the recipe, as shared, serves 16, the Queen told the President that “when there are fewer people, I generally put in less flour and milk, but use the other ingredients as stated.”
The Queen advised that “the mixture needs a great deal of beating while making, and shouldn’t stand about too long before cooking.” She also noted that she had tried the recipe “using golden syrup or treacle instead of only sugar, and that can be very good, too.”
The royal, who would have been 33 at the time and less than eight years into her reign, signed her letter with warmth and charming informality: “Yours sincerely, Elizabeth R.”
In general, the Queen and the President seem to have enjoyed a warm correspondence. In one letter, written on June 29, 1959, to thank the Queen for a “particularly fortuitous and happy” visit in Canada that coincided with the official dedication of the St. Lawrence Seaway Development, President Eisenhower gushed that “the highlight of the day” for him and his wife, Mamie, was “the cruise on the BRITANNIA, the delightful luncheon with you and your guests, and the opportunity we had to talk informally with you and Prince Phillip.”
Now, if you decide to try the recipe for yourself, available here, it may leave you with a few questions. (For starters, what “bi-carbonate soda” is – answer: baking soda.) It certainly did for some commenters responding to the recipe on Reddit, where it was recently posted. Happily, other Redditors provided some clarity.
“As an American these are not the scones you know. They’re kind of a thick pancake/ blini type thing with a springy texture. Nice with butter and powdered sugar or toasted leftover with strawberry jam,” one commenter advised, adding parenthetically: “(A typical teacup is 6 fluid oz. A dessert spoon in the UK is the larger spoon/ soup spoon in US sets.)”
Others suggested drizzling the pancakes with honey or “golden syrup if your sweet tooth is calling.”
As for baking instructions, which the Queen didn’t include (“Maybe she never got to do that bit, left to others,” one person posited), another Redditor counsels, “Drop scones are cooked on the stove, like American pancakes.”
“They are cooked in a dry pan on the stove,” another instructs. “Drop scones … you drop about a dessert spoon of mixture onto a hot (very slight greased) pan, cook, flip, cook, then put them in a clean linen cloth (teatowel) as you do the rest of the batch. The towel helps keep steam in to finish cooking through the pancakes.”
Got it. Off to measure teacups of flour …