History Cookbook: Shrewsberry ( Shrewsbury) Cakes
Ingredients for Shrewsbury Cakes.
Add the flour to the bowl
Add the sugar
Add the softened butter
Mix in well with a fork until it forms breadcrumb
You may need to rub the fat with your fingertips to make the breadcrumbs
Grate in a generous pinch of nutmeg
Add rosewater and nutmeg to make a soft dough
Bring the dough together with your fingers and knead gently
Flour a surface and roll the dough out
Use a large cutter to cut the cakes. The dough should be 1/2cm thick
Prick the surface of the cakes with a fork
Put the cakes on a greased baking tray and bake in the oven
When the cakes are cooked, leave them on the tray for 2-3 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack until cold. You can also sprinkle the top of the cakes with a little caster sugar when you remove them from the oven
Small Shrewsberry Cakes. You might like to use a small cutter to make little biscuits instead. You will need to reduce the cooking time to 12 minutes if you do this.
Comments: Modern flour seems to be drier than flour of the period, as the original recipe does not contain enough liquid to make a dough. The podcast recipe uses about 5 tablespoons of rosewater to make the recipe work. In our modern version, we suggest using a little rose water and some tapwater.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 25-30 minutes
Number of servings: Makes 8-10 cakes
Serving suggestions: Serve with syllabub.
Shrewsberry/Shrewsbury cakes are a kind of biscuit. They are less crumbly than a shortbread but have a buttery flavour.
They were made to accompany many dishes but were popular with syllabub, which is a sugared, whipped cream, flavoured with cider or sherry. Sugar was an important trade item and refined (white) sugar was very fashionable. This recipe uses white sugar which would have been pinched off a sugarloaf and then ground (beaten) until fine enough to use in the recipe.
Traditionally they are baked as thick, large biscuits and were able to be kept for long periods of time.
Our recipe comes from ' A delightful Daily Exercise for Ladies and Gentlewomen'
Take a quart of very fine flouwer, eight onces of fine sugar beaten and cersed, twelve ounces sweet butter, nutmeg grated, damaske rosewater- work together with your hands for halfe an houre, then roule in little round cakes about the thickness of three shillings, then take a glasse and cut the cakes, then strow some flower on white papers and bake them in an oven as hotte as for manchet. If the oven be not hotte sett your lid downe ( there is a long explanantion for testing/changing the heat in the period oven which i have omitted) until they be baked enough, for they must lokke browne not white. you may keep them halfe a yeare but new baked are best.
- 100g (4oz) plain white flour
- 100g (4oz) white, caster sugar
- 100g (4oz) salted butter (very soft, works best)
- 1/4 teaspoon of grated (or ground) nutmeg
- 2-3 teaspoon rosewater
- 3-5 tablespoons tapwater (at room temperature)
- optional: a little caster sugar to sprinkle on the top
( Note: You may need more water to make a stiff dough, it will depend on the flour you use.)
- Weighing scales
- Grater (optional)
- Mixing bowl
- Wooden spoon
- Rolling pin
- Large cutter
- Baking sheet
- Cooling rack
- Airtight container
- Pre-heat the oven Gas 4, 350F or 180C
- Put the flour, sugar and butter into a bowl and mix well with a fork. You should end up with fine breadcrumbs. If the butter is hard you will need to rub it in with your fingertips, like making pastry
- Add the rosewater, enough water to make a soft dough and add the nutmeg
- Gather the dough together with your fingers in the bowl
- Kneed lightly
- Flour a surface and roll the dough out to about half a cm depth
- Use a large cutter to cut the cakes (biscuits) out
- Prick the surface of the cakes (biscuits) with a fork
- Space the cakes (biscuits) out on a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes, the cakes should be golden brown when cooked
- Remove from the oven and leave on the tray to firm up for 2-3 minutes
- Then transfer to a cooling rack
- Serve cold
- These will keep well in an airtight container
If you tried this recipe and liked it, tell us about it
Add a comment
|Name: Laura||20th June 2014|
|Just tried this. The dough was extremely soft even before adding rose water. We didn't need any other liquids and in fact added more flour. Even so the cakes spread out flat on the tray and lost their shape. Are the quantities of butter, sugar and flour really supposed to be equal?|
|Name: Lizzie||29th May 2011|
|really nice recipe but you forgot to tell us when to the nutmeg in !!!!! Recipe now updated to make this clear. Thanks for your comment. The Cookit Team|
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