Shrewsbury Cakes

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

Shrewsbury cakes are a kind of biscuit (indeed occasionally known as Shrewsbury biscuits) of the shortbread type, made from flour, sugar, and butter, circular, fairly thin, and with scalloped edges. They are flavoured with spices, and sometimes rosewater. The earliest recorded recipe, given by Murrell (1621) uses nutmeg and rosewater.

A monograph on Shrewsbury cakes written by a Shrewsbury historian (Lloyd and Lloyd, 1931) throws light on their early history. Since the 17th century Shrewsbury cakes always appear to have been known for their crisp, brittle texture, which is referred to by one Lord Herbert of Cherbury, who sent his guardian in 1602 ‘a kind of cake which our countrey people use and made in no place in England but in Shrewsbury … Measure not my love by substance of it, which is brittle, but by the form of it which is circular.’