British Recipes > Cakes


Various types of cake have been baked since time immemorial. For many centuries they were the preserve of the rich and even then reserved for feast days. Fruit cakes have been baked for festivals since Roman times and sponge cake or fine cake was developed in the mediaeval kitchen. The improvement in ovens and cooking utensils and the introduction of sugar and baking powder have all contributed to the variety of cakes as we know them today.

Banbury Cakes

A sweet puff pastry cake has been made since ancient times in Banbury, Oxfordshire. The pastry is filled with raisins, currants, mixed peel, sugar and spices. See the Banbury Cake Recipe.

Birthday Cake

A traditional festival cake which often nowadays is a sponge cake decorated with various types of icing to depict a particular theme. For more formal birthday celebrations (i.e. a 21st birthday) a fruit cake may be preferable.

Bishops Cake

An old English fruit cake containing whole Brazil nuts dates and green and red glace cherries. When sliced the cake resembles a church stained glass window. See the Bishop's Cake Recipe.

Carrot Cake

A lovely moist cake with a cream cheese frosting. In the eighteenth century it was common to use root vegetables as sweetening agents for cakes and puddings. See the Carrot Cake Recipe.

Cheese Cake

Cakes made from cream, cottage cheese or curd cheese sometimes set with gelatine and usually flavoured with fruit, chocolate or coffee. The idea of using curds in a pastry cake is a very old one. See the Cherry Cheesecake Recipe.

Chocolate Cake

A cake made either by the creaming method or a fatless sponge flavoured with cocoa, chocolate powder or melted chocolate. See the Chocolate Cake Recipe.

Christmas Cake

A rich fruit cake containing dried fruit and alcohol. Christmas Cake is on of the last reminders of the mediaeval feast cake which often weighed 20 pounds. The marzipan and icing now put onto the cake used to be served as a "subteltie" as a course on its own. See the Christmas Cake Recipe.

Cream Éclair

A finger of choux pastry baked, split and filled with fresh cream. This popular cream cake is then topped with melted chocolate.

Dundee Cake

A rich fruit cake manufactured in Dundee by Keiller who add their left over marmalade ingredients to a traditional cake. The Dundee cake is topped with whole almonds. See the Dundee Cake Recipe.

Eccles Cakes

First baked for the Eccles Wakes festival days Eccles cakes are puff pastry rounds filled with buttered dried fruit and spices. See the Eccles Cake Recipe.

Honey Cake

A spicy wholemeal fruit cake sweetened with honey.

Madeira Cake

This traditional British cake is made with butter, eggs, sugar and lemon and orange peel. It has a lovely close texture and a buttery taste. See the Madeira Cake Recipe.

Oatmeal Bannocks

Bannock is the Gaelic word for cake. Oatmeal bannocks are flat cakes made with oatmeal, baking soda and dripping. They are cooked on a griddle.

Pepper Cake

Pepper cake originated in the North of England. It is a fruit cake made with ginger and cloves. The addition of ground black pepper is unusual and gives the cake an extra spicy flavour.

Saffron Cake

A yeast cake made in Cornwall. Saffron cake is flavoured with with saffron from the stamen of the saffron crocus. It is eaten spread with butter. The saffron imparts a subtle flavour and colours the cake yellow. See the Saffron Cake Recipe.


Made with flour, butter and dried fruit, milk (sometimes sour) and baking powder scones are a traditional part of the Cornish Cream Tea. The baking powder and sour milk both act as raising agents.

Sponge Cake

Strictly speaking sponge cake is not made by the creaming method and it does not contain any fat. Sponge is made by whisking together sugar and eggs and then folding in the flour.

Twelfth Night Cake

A rich iced and marzipanned fruit cake. Twelfth Night cake was traditionally baked for the festival of the twelfth night after Christmas. In some areas this was more celebrated than Christmas Day.

Victoria Sandwich

A sponge cake named after Queen Victoria. Two cakes are made and sandwiched together with jam and sometimes butter icing.

Vinegar Cake

A fruit cake made with bicarbonate of soda malt vinegar. These act as raising agents instead of eggs. The Vinegar cake is lighter than fruit cakes made with egg.