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Fourses Cake

Suffolk, Norfolk

An enriched, spiced, bread bun.

'Chamber's Journal' (Vol 15, p306) of 1861 has;
I plead guilty to having no taste for the east-country ale not even for is Howell's best which had stood in its eighty gallon cask since last October It was hard strong and just in that state of acid fermentation that muddles the drinker's brain But In approval of its constant companion the harvest was unqualified

This is a variety of the bun tribe which to my taste beats the famous bath bun hollow round plump and baked to just the most tempting shade of brown. A warm spicy scent filled the house whenever these buns were fresh from the oven which was pretty often for the bountiful old custom, now mostly disused, of giving the reapers fourses cake and ale was kept up at the Grundel, and every afternoon at a quarter to four the donkey cart set sail from the kitchen door to the harvest field with its stone beer bottles and buns piled up on a white cloth. I will have nothing to say respecting the opinion of an antiquarian friend that the pagan ancestry of the fourses cake was offered up to Ceres; the bare notion of such remote antiquity would in my fancy give them a smack of mustiness, but oh my reader, curious in old manuscripts have you never come across a picture with the harvestfield to the left and on the right an interior with the Saxon housewife busy over her batch of buns as like those of the present day as monkish skill could draw them.

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

Fourses Cake

11/2 lb Strong flour
1/2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Mixed spice
1/2 oz Yeast
2 tsp Sugar
3/4 pt Warm water
6 oz Lard
6 oz Currants

Sift the flour, salt and spice together. Cream the yeast and sugar together with a little of the water and allow to sponge. Rub the lard into the flour, make a well in the centre and add the yeast mixture. Stir in the remaining water to form a smooth dough. Turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead thoroughly. Cover and leave to rise in a warm place until the dough has doubled its bulk. Knead again, adding the currants so that they are well distributed in the dough. Divide the dough into two lightly greased 1 lb. loaf tins. Cover and leave to prove in a warm place. Set oven to 400/F or Mark 6; when the dough has risen to about l inch above the top of the tins bake for 45 minutes. While still warm brush the tops of the loaves with a little water or milk to give a slight sheen. Serve plain or spread with butter.

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