Have you tried the Banbury Cake?

If you’re local you will most likely be aware of the Banbury Cake, if you’re not local, or haven’t tried them – you need to get baking (or to a bakery)!

The Banbury Cake is a delicacy that has been around since before the 17th century. You could get them in the early days from Edward Welchman who had a shop on Parsons Street. The most known historic recipe was published by Gervase Markham in ‘The English Huswife’ book in 1615.
 
Originally, they were made and sold exclusively in Banbury, but over the years demand saw them shipped around the world as far afield as Australia, the East Indies and America.
 
So, what is a Banbury Cake? It is a spiced, oval shaped flat pastry filled with currants. Sometimes they have a touch of alcohol in to help bring out the flavours.
 
There are many known, and secret, recipes around Banbury for Banbury Cakes, with many families over the years claiming to have the best version. Many recipes from years ago differ greatly from todays, in terms of shape, size and method, but typical fillings still include mixed peel, sugar, rose water, rum and nutmeg. Historically, it will have changed over time due to changing tastes and the availability of ingredients.
 
They’re even popular with royalty – Queen Victoria would enjoy a Banbury Cake every August as she travelled from Osborne House to Balmoral via Banbury.
 
Below is a recipe to have a go at making your own delicious Banbury Cakes.
 
Ingredients
·       50g unsalted butter
·       1 tbsp honey
·       ½ tsp grated nutmeg
·       ½ tsp ground cinnamon
·       100g currants
·       50g candied orange peel
·       plain flour, for dusting
·       500g pack all-butter puff pastry
·       1 beaten egg white
·       1-2 tbsp nibbed sugar or crushed rough-edged sugar cubes

Method
1.     Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4.

2.     Cream the butter and honey together with the spices. Add the currants and the candied peel and mix well.

3.     On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry to the thickness of a £1 coin and cut out 10 x 10cm circles.

4.     Divide the filling between the circles.

5.     Bring up the edges of the pastry to enclose the filling and pinch the edges together.

6.     Turn the parcels over. Roll each parcel out gently to an oval shape, taking care not to expose the filling.

7.     Place the cakes on a baking sheet lined with non-stick paper. Brush with the egg white and sprinkle with sugar. Cook for 25-30 mins until cooked and crispy. Turn the oven down if the tops brown too quickly.

8.     When cooked, transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool a little before eating. When cold, they’re excellent spread with a little salted butter.

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