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Spice Cakes


Slightly raised white wheatflour cakes enriched with egg, butter, currants, rosewater, cinnamon, mace and cloves baked as small flat buns without any mould.

Image: Alex Bray...

Original Receipt from 'Countrey Contentments, or, The English Hus-wife' by Gervase Markham, 1615 (Markham 1615)

To make spice Cakes
To make excellent spice Cakes, take half a peck of very fine Wheat flowre, take almost one pound of sweet Butter, and some good Milk and cream mixt together, set it on the fire, and put in you Butter, and a good deal of Sugar, and let it melt together: then strain Saffron into your Milk a good quantity: then take seven or eight spoonfuls of good Ale barm, and eight eggs with two yelks, and mix them together, then put your Milk to it when it is somewhat cold, and into your flowre put Salt, Anniseeds bruised, Cloves, and Mace, and a good deal of Cinamon; then work all thgether good and stiff, that you need not work in any flower after, then put in a little Rose water cold, then rubbe it well in the thing you knead it in and work it throughly: if it be not sweet enough, scrape in a little more Sugar, and pull it all in pieces, and hurle in a good quantity of Currants, and so work all together again, and bake your Cakes as you see cause, in a gentle warm Oven.

While Spice Cake might nowadays look to be a fairly innocuous product, it seems that it may have been weaponised in former times by nuns for the foul end of trying to divert godly protestant children away from the true path of religion...

Essex Standard - Friday 24 September 1858

The original source of this receipt isn't known. Can you help? editor@foodsofengland.co.uk

Essex Spice Cakes

10 oz caster sugar
10 oz plain flour
2 medium eggs
5 oz unsalted butter
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp rosewater
pinch ground mace
pinch salt
pinch ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
4 tbsp currants

Cream the butter and sugar in a large bowl until light. Beat in the eggs and rosewater. Fold in all the dry ingredients. Place spoonfuls of the batter onto a greased baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes at 190C, 375F.

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