I recently came across an interesting story that tells of how King Henry VIII named the ‘Maid of Honour’ cakes after seeing Anne Boleyn and other maids eating the sweet pastries at Richmond Palace. He was so delighted with the cakes that he imprisoned the cook and demanded she only produce the cakes for those of his choosing. He also ordered her to keep the recipe secret and some say even locked it up in an iron box in Richmond Palace.
Another version of the story claims that the tarts originated in the kitchens of Hampton Court Palace and that Henry VIII rediscovered the secret recipe that had been locked away and presented it to one of Catherine of Aragon’s ladies in waiting, Anne Boleyn. She then made the cakes for the King who in turn named them ‘Maid of Honour’ after her.
The much sought after tarts in Tudor Times were filled with fruit and it was not until the 17th century that they took on the form of cheesecakes or tarts filled with ground almond scented with rose water or orange flower water.
When the pastries were first produced commercially in the 18th century, the baker had to pay a large amount of money for the ‘secret’ recipe.
Today you can enjoy one of these delicious pastries made from the family secret recipe from Newens in Kew Gardens. The bakery and tearoom serve a number of mouth watering delights!
For more information visit their website here.