Banbury Cakes

                     - Banbury, Oxfordshire, England


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Makes About 18

According to legend, Banbury Cakes, and similar creations, began appearing in England shortly after the first Crusaders began returning from the Middle East.  They are quite similar to baklava and other middle Eastern sweets that are made with filo dough.  It is thought that puff pastry was as close as English cooks could come to filo.  In the above illustration, the oval cakes are the Banbury Cakes.

2 cups crumbled stale cake

½ cup sugar

1 stic butter, softened

2 cups finely chopped walnuts

Banbury - Timber-framed house in the Market Place

Banbury Tea Rooms, directly accross from Banbury cross, where I collected this recipe.

1 cup dried currants

1 cup finely chopped candied peel

½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground nutmeg

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1 package (17.3 ounces) frozen puff pastry

Egg wash (1 egg lightly beaten with 1 tablespoon of cold water)

Raw, Turbinado or Demerara sugar

Bakers' Syrup


Allow the puff pastry to thaw in the refrigerator overnight.  Preheat the oven to 350°.  Combine the first ten ingredients and blend well. 

Unfold one piece of puff pastry and lay it on a lightly flowered surface.  Gently roll to be approximately twelve inches square.  Cut into nine 4-inch squares.  With a small brush, paint the outer edge of each square with the egg wash.  Put about two tablespoons of the crumb filling in a line diagonally down the center of each square.

fold the square in half on the diagonal, to form a triangle, and press the edges together to seal well.  Turn them over so that the seam side is down.  Tuck the p9ointed ends under.  Flattened them slightly with the palm of your hand.  Set them about one inch apart 9on a baking sheet that has been lined with Bakers' ParchmentUsing the tip of a small, sharp knife, make three short diagonal slashes in the top of each cake.  Paint with egg wash and sprinkle with a bit of raw sugar.  Repeat with the second sheet of dough.


Place in the preheated oven and bake for about twenty to twenty-five minutes, or until the pastry is crisp and golden brown.  Remove from the oven and while still hot, paint generously with warm Baker’s Syrup. 


These staggeringly delicious little cakes can be kept for weeks, which makes them excellent for lunch boxes, picnic baskets, or sending as gifts.


Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross

To See a Fine Lady Upon a White Horse.

Rings on Her Fingers and Bells on her Toes,

and She Shall Have Music Wherever She Goes.

The “fine,” lady in that rhyme is actually a “Foyne,” lady, the daughter of Lord Foyne.   She was a bit of a tomboy and rode to the hunt.  The rings on her fingers and bells on her toes, refers to the accouterments of the hunt, and the music refers to the hunting horns.

Statue of the Fine lady . Near Banbury Cross

The original stone market cross was destroyed in 1600 by anti-Catholic Puritans.  the current Banbury cross was erected in 1859.


        Copyright © 2008 - Geraldine Duncann

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