Genoa cake


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • For



Appears in

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South: The history of British Baking, savoury and sweet

Oats in the North, Wheat from the South

By Regula Ysewijn

Published 2020

  • About

Although this cake resembles the Italian Christmas cake, Pandolce genovese, it’s still a top British cake, just like the Belgian bun and Battenberg cake. When I was little, my mother sometimes bought a cake in the supermarket with glace cherries and currants in it; I always called it English cake. Genoa cake is a lovely alternative to a richer Christmas cake. It’s nice to decorate the cake with candied fruit that catches the light like little gems. You can find recipes for Genoa cake in many 19th-century cookbooks. They usually begin with a pound cake recipe.

This version is based on Robert Wells’ recipe from The Bread and Biscuit Baker’s and Sugar-Boiler’s Assistant from 1890. He gives instructions to make a square cake, but I find a loaf-shaped cake more convenient.


  • 200 g (7 oz) butter, at room temperature
  • 200 g (7 oz) white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 200 g (7 oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • 150 g ( oz) glacé cherries
  • 150 g ( oz) currants
  • 150 g ( oz) candied orange peel
  • butter, for greasing
  • flour, for dusting
  • blanched almonds, to garnish


For a loaf tin (500 g/1 lb 2 oz)

Preheat your oven to 160°C (320°F) and prepare the loaf tin.

Put the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and make sure that each egg is completely incorporated before adding the next one. Add a teaspoon of the flour with the last egg to prevent the mixture from separating.

Carefully fold the remaining flour and the baking powder into the batter so that the volume is retained. Fold in the fruit, then spoon the batter into the tin and smooth the top.

Bake the cake in the middle of the oven for 2 hours, checking if it is cooked after 1¾ hours and again after 2 hours. Garnish with blanched almonds.