Banbury cakes


Preparation info

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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

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You are welcome to make traditional puff pastry, but my quick method works every time and costs you half the effort. Just make sure your butter is cut in small enough cubes and frozen, and keep the dough as cold as you can while you do the folding.


For the quick puff pastry

  • 240 g ( oz) butter, cut into cubes no larger than 1 cm (½ inch)
  • 240 g ( oz) plain (all-purpose) flour
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 130 ml (4 fl oz) ice-cold water
  • flour, for dusting
  • 1 egg yolk + 1 tbsp milk, for egg wash
  • caster (superfine) sugar, for sprinkling

For the filling

  • 60 g ( oz) cake crumbs (left-over from other baking; defrosted if frozen)
  • 60 g ( oz) currants
  • 50 g ( oz) candied citrus peel
  • ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground cloves
  • ¼ tsp ground mace
  • ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
  • 100 g ( oz) apple purée


Put the diced butter in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the flour and salt in the bowl of an electric mixer and place in the fridge if you have space.

Take the butter from the freezer and the bowl from the fridge. Toss the butter in the flour so that the butter is coated with flour. This will prevent sticking.

Pulse the mixture twice for 1 second. Add half of the cold water and pulse three times, then add the rest of the water and pulse six times.

Dust your work surface with flour and take the dough out of the bowl. Push the dough flat with your hands but do not knead it – the small chunks of butter that are visible in the dough must be preserved and not be blended with the flour.

Dust the dough with flour and pat it flat into a square with a rolling pin. Fold the dough in three parts like a letter, pat it down lightly with the rolling pin and then fold it in three again, but in the opposite direction. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and let it rest for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator. The dough will be marbled with the butter and that is the intention. Repeat the folding and chilling step three times.

Preheat your oven to 200°C (400°F) and line a baking tray with baking paper.

For the filling, push the cake crumbs through a fine sieve using a spatula or the back of a spoon. Combine the cake crumbs, currants, candied peel and spices in a bowl and stir in the apple puree until everything is well combined.

Roll out the dough until it is 2 mm (1/16 inch) thick. Cut out circles from the dough using a 9 cm (3½ inch) cutter and brush them with the egg wash. Place a tablespoon of the filling on each round and fold the outer edges inwards over the filling as with a Cornish pasty. Push the dough together with your fingers to seal it, then turn the parcels over with the seam underneath. The tops should look perfectly smooth.

Place the parcels on the baking tray and cut three slashes in the top of each. Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle with the caster sugar.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until the Banbury cakes are golden. Serve them warm or cooled – they will keep for a few days because of the rather moist filling.