A vintage year ahead

Just in time for all your bank holiday banquets, street parties and afternoon teas

Hello! In what seems an eternity since the heady trifle pudding post of summer 2011, below, the Vintage Cake Spot is getting ready to entice you back for more of yesterday’s culinary delights.

Spring is very nearly here and so is my compilation of delicious old-fashioned recipes for The Women’s Institute’s Vintage Teatime, published by Simon & Schuster this February. Recipes are sourced from WI federation cook books, WI cookery books and magazines, some dating back as far as 1930 – and what a pleasure it was to research!

A nostalgic banquet of tea-time recipes illustrates the wealth of experience, imagination and resources beheld to the WI cook over the last century – most of which were uncovered in the archived boxes at the The Women’s Library (I’d highly recommend a trip to anyone!) Some of the old food pamphlets are just too dear and contain all manner of variations for teatime classics such as scones, tea-cakes and muffins along with sensible tips when one is catering for the masses. If you’re thinking of hiring out the local village hall anytime soon it might be worth noting that 40g tea, 8 pints water and 2 pints of milk are the recommended ratios for a troupe of 30 pals (with thanks to Bookhams Evening WI for their splendid leaflet, ‘Let’s Give a Party’ from 1970).

Kathy and Ian welcome us to Springfield

It’s been a busy few months. With tripod and notebook in hand, last summer saw Camilla and I travel around the UK in our fourth year visiting gorgeous gardens for the Women’s Institute magazine, WI Life. It really is as lovely as it sounds and it’s been a privilege to explore the treasured soils of some of the UK’s most passionate amateur gardeners. A particular highlight this time round was visiting Springfield allotment in Derbyshire, home to Kathy and Ian Shand. I can’t give away any details before it goes to press (April WI Life for any members reading!), but this little corner of eden seems to be what the good life is all about. Kathy is a fellow Grimsby girl and we hit it off over the most divine home-made Victoria Sandwich which was made with fresh eggs from her chickens (Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum) and cemented by a thick layer of home-made raspberry jam – from her own fruit bush, naturally.

Meanwhile, Camilla has been busy in the kitchen studio with one of her favourite ingredients – cheese! Check out the beautifully-shot dairy section here for some delicious samples. Let it be said this lady LOVES LURPAK  though due to an intolerance to wheat and gluten, finding a suitable loaf to spread it proper thick on can be something of a misery. This also means I have to do most of the tasting and testing on the blog (yes, poor me) but we’d like to start hunting down some wheat-free options on here that don’t just amount to ten ways with potato. Watch this space!

I’ll leave you with the recipe for Carrot Cake taken from The WI Vintage Teatime, tested by my friend Grace Mackinnon from Glasgow – see her pic below. She reports that after taking it down to her local choir practice, they ‘scoffed the lot!’

Grace's carrot cake hits the high note


This cake was revived in the Second World War as carrots were a cheap and healthy alternative to sugar and sweetened products.

Preparation time: 30 minutes + cooling

Cooking time: 40-45 minutes

Serves: 8-12

  • 175g (6 oz) margarine
  • 110g (4 oz) light muscovado sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 250g (9 oz) self-raising flour
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 25g (1 oz) mixed peel or marmalade
  • Finely grated zest of 1 orange
  • 60g (2 oz) raisins, washed
  • 225g (8 oz) finely grated carrots
  • 4-5 tablespoons milk or orange juice

Cream cheese frosting

  • 170g (6 oz) cream cheese
  • 60g (2 oz) soft margarine or butter
  • 110g (4 oz) icing sugar
  • a few drops vanilla extract
  • Heat the oven to 180°C (350°F) mark 4. Lightly grease an 18-cm (7-inch) square or a 20-cm (8-inch) round cake tin.
  • Cream the margarine with the sugar until light and creamy. Whisk the eggs and beat into the mixture.
  • Sieve the flour with the cinnamon and fold into the creamed mixture together with the peel or marmalade, orange zest and raisins.
  • Mix in the grated carrots. Add sufficient milk to give a dropping consistency.Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth over the top.
  • Bake for 40-45 minutes until golden brown, firm to the touch and a skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake. Cool in the tin for 15 minutes, then turn out into a cooling rack.
  • For the frosting, cream together the cream cheese and margarine or butter and then beat in the icing sugar and vanilla extract. Use to cover the top of the cake and then cut into 8-12 servings.

Tip: Decorate with bought sugar carrot decorations or make your own with ready-to-roll orange and green fondant icing.


Camilla and I would also like to say thank you for everyone that’s followed the blog so far. We’ve received some great feedback and with lots of exciting projects in the bag, it won’t be too long before we’re feeding you with more vintage treats.

 Jessica & Camilla x

Photo: Richard Seymour

Published in: on February 28, 2012 at 4:11 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Gardens and cakes! Perfect job!
    I’m looking forward to April’s issue, I can’t wait till the country comes into bloom again!

    • Hi Martha,
      Thanks for visiting the Cake Spot. I love your blog and your lovely cat!
      Happy baking,

  2. Hello. What a lovely blog you have. I popped in after reading about you in WI Life and I’m so glad I did. I’m afraid I’m not much of a cook these days… isn’t that a shameful confession for a dedicated WI member?

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