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History Cookbook: Fire of London Cakes

This recipe is in categories Stuarts, Baking, Desserts, Snacks
About this recipe
Healthiness : (890 votes)
Difficulty:  3 out of 5 difficulty
Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
Number of servings: 10-12 cakes

Of the many events recorded in Samuel Pepys' Diaries, the Fire of London is one of the most significant. An article in The Guardian of January 9th, 2001, suggests that the fire was caused by burning some small cakes. Here is a contemporary recipe for the cakes which might have caused the Great Fire of London. The original recipe was written down as follows:

"Take one pound of very fine flower and put to it half a pound of sugar. Add one pound of currants well washed. When your flower is well mixed with the sugar and currants, you must put in it a half a pound of melted butter, three spoonfuls of milk, with the yolks of three new-laid eggs beat with it, some nutmeg; and if you please, three spoonfuls of Sack. When you have mixed your paste well, you must put it in a dish by the fire, till it be warm. Then make them up in little cakes, and prick them full of holes. Bake them in a quick oven unclosed. Afterwards sprinkle them with sugar. The Cakes should be about the bigness of a hand-breadth and thin; of the cise of the Sugar Cakes sold at Barnet."

flower = flour, cise = size, bigness = size, sack = dry Spanish wine or Sherry (should be left out or replaced with Raspberry juice)
  • 1 lb very fine flour (you could use self raising, although this would not have been available in Stuart times)
  • 1/2 lb fine sugar
  • 1 lb currants
  • 1/2 lb butter
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 3 egg yolks
  • pinch of nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons raspberry juice (this can be left out; it is a substitute for sack which was the name for for sherry or other fortified wines from Malaga or the Canary Islands)
  • Weighing scales
  • Sieve
  • Tablespoons
  • Chopping board
  • Mixing bowl
  • Wire tray
Making and cooking it
Always wash your hands before preparing food Always wash your hands before preparing food.

  1. Put the flour and sugar in a bowl
  2. Wash and add the currants
  3. Mix together well
  4. Add the butter, 3 spoonfuls of milk, and the egg yolks
  5. Add the nutmeg
  6. Add the raspberry juice (optional)
  7. Mix well until ingredients have combined
  8. Turn out and take small handfuls to roll into little cakes
  9. Prick the cakes full of holes and place in an oven for 15 minutes (at 200C)
  10. Sprinkle them with sugar
Fire of London Cakes - print view  Fire of London Cakes - print view

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Name: Isla 9th December 2017
This recipe is fab. Delicious cakes and so much fun to make.
Name: Kate, Izzy, Grace, Rosie And Evie 5th June 2016
They tasted really good, were pretty simple and really messy to make and this recipe made about 30 reasonable sized cakes!
Name: Maddie 27th April 2013
this is an interesting project- my mother used to collect older recipes and it's fun to read through these. One thing I wonder though- since these cakes/cookies don't include any kind of rising agent, is it possible that the wine, combined with the warming period for the dough, was intended as a leavener? They sound like they'd be pretty dense otherwise.
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