Shrewsbury Cakes (also known as Shropshire Cakes)

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Now this recipe is not actually a cake at all, it is a biscuit, or cookie for American readers of the blog.

The reason for making these shortbread type biscuits is quite simple.  I was watching TV and a guy came on, talking about historic recipes.  Ivan Day was the guy’s name, he appears in many British programmes talking of the subject of food in times gone by.  Anyway he demonstrated the recipe for Shrewbury Cakes, and told some of the history behind them.  The cakes date back to the 17th Century, and were used, according to Ivan as an accompaniment to a specific type of alcoholic punch.  The pattern was there to allow the biscuits to be broken into pieces to dip in the drink.  

I then did some searching on the internet and found an interesting site, with a nice explanation, and a recipe.  The site is A Taste Of The Past, you can click that link to see the site, and read about the recipe.

Now I made a big mistake today, when shopping, I forgot the buy rosewater, which rather stymied me for making the biscuits.  So I had to improvise and used some diluted orange extract instead.  It worked quite well.  I was worried that I might ruin the biscuits by having too much of an orange flavour, but it is fine, there is just a hint of the orange and the cinnamon.

Below, in the photos I and have included a mug of tea, just to allow for some perspective on size for the biscuits.

I will also put the original recipe here, and just add a note that I used orange extract(diluted) instead of rosewater.

Shrewsbury Cakes
  • 1 lb (450g) Plain flour
  • 8 oz (225 g) Butter
  • 8 oz (225 g) Caster sugar
  • ½ tsp (2.5 ml) Cinnamon
  • 1 medium Egg
  • 1 tsp (5 ml) Rosewater ( I used a teaspoon of diluted orange extract instead)
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a bowl, and rub in the butter.
  2. Work in the egg and rosewater with a round bladed knife.
  3. Knead lightly to form a stiff dough.
  4. Divide the dough into 16 equal balls, and pat out into 5” (13cm) rounds.
  5. Decorate with a comb to form diamond shapes.
  6. Bake at 180°C (350 °F) for 10-15 minutes.

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