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Sly Cake

Pies and Pastries
Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland

Sheet of shortcrust pastry covered with paste of minced dark dried fruit (fig, raisin) walnut and covered with a second layer of shortcrust. Baked and cut into squares. A form of Squashed Fly Cake, but also equated to Fatty Cake.

Sly cake
Image: www.davidsonofdarrashallbakery.co.uk

The origin of the name is unclear. F. K. Robinson's 'Glossary of Yorkshire Words' of 1855 says that the name comes from the cake's apparent plainness; "Sly-cakes, tea-cakes plain and uninviting on the outside, but when eaten are found full of currants and richness within. They are also called Cheats." (Though see 'Cheat' as a type of bread)

The Shields Gazette, however, provides a long story about a clandestine love affair

Original Receipt

Our correspondent Sarah Gee tells us (2021) that; "My motherís handwritten recipe book, which was certainly a well thumbed and stained little missal in the early 1950s, contains the following recipe for sly cake. I absolutely loved it as a child. My mother was from Streatham, but Iíve no idea where the recipe originated.

1/4 lb sultanas 1 dsrtsp. Sugar
Teacup of Water 1 dsrtsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. Cornflour 1/2 tsp. Mixed Spice
2 ozs Currants Flaky Pastry

Chop sultanas a little and put them into a saucepan with most of the water. Stew slowly until water almost absorbed. Add cornflour mixed with remainder of water and stir until thick. Add currants, sugar, lemon juice and spice, and leave mixture to cool.
Roll out flaky pastry very thinly, sprinkling it with fine sugar. Line flat baking tin with this, spread with sultana mixture and cover with another piece of pastry. Mark across in fingers with back of knife, brush over with beaten egg and bake in good oven until thoroughly cooked and golden brown.

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