The Northampton Cake

The Northampton Cake  (from The Country House Wife and Lady Director by R Bradley 1732)

Take a peck of Flour, and a Pound of fine Sugar beaten well into a Powder, and sifted; then add a quarter of an Ounce of Cloves, half an Ounce of Cinnamon, and a large Nutmeg, and beat them to powder; put to this some Orange-Flower-Water; then take five or six pounds of Currants well picked, and rubbed dry with a coarse cloth, but not washed. Put these with your Fruit, and a little Salt into the flour; then take as much cream as you think proper: then melt two pounds of butter, to mix with it, and add a Pint of Canary-Wine, and kneed it with some fresh Ale-Yeast, till it rises under your hand. Have your Oven hot before you put it in the Hoop for  Baking

Modern Version.

1000g Plain Flour or 50-50 plain and strong flour,
80g Caster Sugar,
3g Mixed Spice,
2g Nutmeg,
1/2tsp of Orange Flower Water,
400g Currants.
600ml Cream
10g Salt,
100ml Sweet Wine,
200g Butter melted or very soft,
300g Beer Barm or sourdough starter.

Make a sponge (mix together) with 500g of the flour and 300g of  beer barm and 300g of the cream, cover and leave for 3 hours.

Mix rest of flour, sugar, salt and spices together, add the rest of the cream and wine, rose water plus the sponge, work in the melted butter,

if too stiff add some water.

kneed in the currants and kneed until smooth and well combined,

Rest for two hours. shape and place in buttered and floured cake tins, only half to 2/3rds full. cover and allow to rise until top of tin is reached approx 4-5  hrs.

Cook at 160-180 depending on tin size 60 to 120minutes. cake should have a good colour and a skewer should come out clean leave, make sure cake is loose in tin but allow to cool in tin as cake is very soft when hot.

The beer barm was made with a couple of table spoons of malt extract, 11g of brewers yeast (not Bakers or Wine Yeast) 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of warm water, dissolve together, following day add another cup of flour and cup of water mix well, should be fermenting well by day 3 and ready to use.


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