Parson's Cake Recipe

Parsons cake cut into bars
author pic


 Published 02/04/2017

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Here is a recipe for a gingerbread-like cake which I found in a Victorian cookbook. The ingredients given below are in fact a quarter of the quantities given in the original recipe yet still make a substantial cake. In the book, the dry ingredients are given in breakfastcups and teacups which aren't easily translated into modern measurements, largely due to household cups today not being a standard size.

The cake may be called Parson's Cake as a jibe at parsons who were renowned for not always following the Christian ideal of self-denial; the recipe would have been economical as no expensive butter was used and molasses (also called black treacle) is substituted for sugar, which was a luxury at the time. If anybody has any information on this recipe, please let us know in the comments form below.


  • 150g plain flour
  • 52g butter
  • 10g brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 9 tablespoons molasses
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda, dissolved in a little milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
(see measure conversions for more information on quantites)


  1. Rub the butter into the flour.
  2. Add all the other ingredients.
  3. Bake in a square tin at 170 degrees C. for about 25-30 minutes, watching that it doesn't burn around the edges.

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 1 cake


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