Banbury Cakes (1975)

‘Some recipes have names that do intrigue you to want to try them or know more,’ says cookery editor Bee Nilson in her book, The WI Diamond Jubilee Cookbook, 1975 … “Sly cakes”, King George First’s  Christmas Pudding, Buttery Dick, Hurry-up mayonnaise, Light Splitters, Guernsey Bean Jar, Oozie-woozie tart, and Stone Cream… all washed down with a rum and gingery  “Yard of Flannel”! Though not quite as risqué, Bee’s Banbury Cakes fit the bill.

This recipe was kindly sent to me by Emma Bromidge, Cookery School Manager at Denman College. Denman is the WIs’ self-owned education centre in the heart of Oxfordshire, fit to burst with inspiring cookery, craft and lifestyle courses. I liken it to a bit of a Malory Towers for grown-ups.

About 20 miles or so from Denman is the market town of Banbury, made famous for its English nursery rhyme “Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross” and of course, its lovely cakes – oval-shaped flat pastries stuffed with spice and currants. You’ll find a statue of the lady on horse and Banbury Cross in the town centre and fresh batches of Banbury Cakes in most local bakeries.


8oz rough puff pastry (using 200g flour)


  • 1oz (25g) butter
  • 2oz (50g) brown sugar
  • ½ egg
  • 1oz (25g) cake crumbs or ground almonds
  • 2oz (50g) mixed peel
  • 4oz (100g) currants
  • 1/2 level teaspoon mixed spice
  • Milk for brushing
  • Sugar to sprinkle over the top


  1. Cream the butter and sugar together until soft. Add the beaten egg and mix thoroughly. Add cake crumbs or ground almonds, mixed peel, currants and spice. Mix well together.
  2. Roll out the pastry thinly. Cut into 5 inch (12cm) rounds. Damp half-way round the edge of each round.
  3. Put 1 spoonful of filling in the centre of each round. Draw the edge up over the filling, taking care to put the dampened edge on to the top of the other edge. Press lightly together.
  4. Form into an oval shape, turn over, flatten slightly with the hand or rolling pin, reshape into an oval. Glaze with a little milk. Sprinkle with sugar.
  5. Put into a flat baking tin and bake in a hot oven for 20-25 minutes at 220C/425F or Gas 7. Cool on a wire tray.
Published in: on July 20, 2010 at 9:17 am  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. These look amazing. I’m going to attempt them this week! Wish me luck.

  2. So that’s what Banbury cakes are! All I know is that the waitress in Brief Encounter drops hers all over the floor when she gets embarrassed. One of life’s great mysteries solved!

  3. These looks yummy, thank you for the recipe, I will give them a try one evening.

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