Thursday, May 01, 2008

Banbury Cakes Revisited

Whilst in Deddington, Oxfordshire, and already feeling inspired for my next post (I am obviously on a roll at the moment!), I came across a shop that sold genuine, 100% authentic Banbury Cakes. Banbury is just up/down the road from Deddington. Having previously made these, I bought myself a packet so that I could see how the original compared to the home-baked.


From a visit to the Brown's Original Banbury Cakes website, I was delighted to learn that the current owner/baker, Phillip Brown, is related to Banbury Cake bakers dating back to the early 19th century. He himself is a direct descendent of E.W. Brown who ran 'The Original Cake Shop' from 1868 - her name appears over the door in this photo from 1902. Phillip Brown hand bakes his Banbury Cakes, and they are available for purchase online, and from a select number of shops (including A. Gold in London).

Since I wrote my earlier post about Banbury Cakes I bought Florence White's book 'Good Things in England'. She has a 'modern' recipe (dated 1929) for Banbury Cakes (alongside Gervase Markham's recipe from 1615), that is apparently for the 'same type of cake as those sold by E.W. Brown'. An indiscreet plug for the cakes reads, 'Anyone who wants to buy the best Banbury Cakes ever made can buy them from E.W. Brown, 'The Original Cake Shop', 12 Parson Street, Banbury, Oxfordshire. The recipe given is almost identical to the one that I baked for my Banbury Cakes.


My purchased Banbury Cakes were oval in shape but lacked the three slashes on top that my recipe had instructed I cut (as does the one in Florence White's book). The tops were crusted with sugar, but differed from my efforts in that they were most likely brushed with egg white and then dusted with caster sugar. I used demerara, but this may have been an embellishment of my own devising.

The pastry was, unfortunately, a little travel weary. The Banbury Cakes had only a short excursion in Ellis' changing bag, but this did compress the cakes a little. I felt that the cakes were probably best enjoyed as fresh as possible, and although they had a best-before date of almost four weeks hence, the pastry was a little dry. However, the filling of fruit, spices and sugar was positively fudgy, my only complaint was that there wasn't more of it. All in all I felt my own efforts were pretty decent - certainly in terms of the outer (hmm, to be fair I bought my pastry), and if I were to remake the cakes I would make the fillings with a little more sugar so that they could melt on the tongue in the way Mr. Brown's cakes did.

22 comments:

Jennywenny said...

How are these different from eccles cakes? Is it the spices?

anna said...

Eccles cakes are more densely loaded up with dried fruit, and the pastry outer is sturdier and more case-like. I imagine that there is also a difference in terms of the spices, but commercial manufacturers like to keep the specifics of such ingredients to themselves, and domestic recipes always vary such details.

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The Old Foodie said...

Hello Anna - a nice story, thankyou. I was in Oxford last September for the Symposium on Food and Cookery, but ran out of time to visit Banbury. I am going to attend it again this year, and will make sure I visit this shop. I too wondered about Eccles Cakes - I grew up in Yorkshire, and they were common, but I dont remember Banbury Cakes at the time. Regional variations I guess.

Lael said...

these look wonderful! I would love to try them sometime...I have an affinity for British pastries and sentimental connections with "Banbury" so I'm putting them on my to-do list. cheers!

Private Chef said...

I am a keen reader of food blogs but just stumbled upon yours. I really like the clean design and simple layout. I started blogging myself a year ago and always thought that clean design was key. The fact that you also have good photos does help a lot. I have just started a website for bloggers, chefs and foodies to meet and share all their photos, recipes and videos called www.ifoods.tv. Anyway keep the great work up on the blog, have it bookmarkd now and talk soon. Cheers

Private Chef said...

I am a keen reader of food blogs but just stumbled upon yours. I really like the clean design and simple layout. I started blogging myself a year ago and always thought that clean design was key. The fact that you also have good photos does help a lot. I have just started a website for bloggers, chefs and foodies to meet and share all their photos, recipes and videos called www.ifoods.tv. Anyway keep the great work up on the blog, have it bookmarkd now and talk soon. Cheers

Carolyn said...

They do look nice - I do like these type of cakes

Rosie said...

I have a recipe I want to try out for Banbury cakes and you have just reminded me - thank you :) They do look so delicious I can taste them now having the real thing some years back now.

Rosie x

Berta said...

Ummmmm!!!. They seem quite delicious. Never tried them although I spent a summer at Oxford.
I'm going to look up in your previous posts for the recipe.
It's time I read you from Spain.

Regards,
Berta

great big veg challenge said...

I know this shop as my parents live nearby.
Delicious banbury cakes!

David Hall said...

Long time no hear Anna - delicious looking cakes!!! Hope life is good.

Cheers
David

Taissa said...

Hello

Not sure how to contact you so hope you think this up.

I really love your blog (found it when searching for Oxford Pudding recipe) and have put a link to it from my site at http://kitchen.history.googlepages.com

My site's designed to collect family recipes - one for each generation. Kind of fits with your food history strand.

I hope this is OK - very happy to take it off if you don't like the look of my site or for any other reason.

If you'd like to leave a recipe or two or three while you're there that would be awesome!

Best wishes
Taissa

Taissa said...

Sorry - I mean 'pick this up'.

T

Birlesik Krallik said...

Looks delicious

Jana Good "Exuberantly Yours" said...

I've just discovered your blog...and I love it! Cheers!

Steve said...

Wow, this looks so yummy. Cakes are one of my favorite,I can't wait to try this!

Ladyhihi said...

Eccles cakes are more densely loaded up with dried fruit, and the pastry outer is sturdier and more case-like. I imagine that there is also a difference in terms of the spices, but commercial manufacturers like to keep the specifics of such ingredients to themselves, and domestic recipes always vary such details.


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Cicalia said...

Hi,

It seems to be really tasty and crunchy. I had never seen such a cookie before. I think I will try.

Cicalia

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Eccles cakes are more densely loaded up with dried fruit, and the pastry outer is sturdier and more case-like. I imagine that there is also a difference in terms of the spices, but commercial manufacturers like to keep the specifics of such ingredients to themselves, and domestic recipes always vary such details.
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