A Shrewsbury cake or Shrewsbury biscuit is a classic English dessert, named after Shrewsbury, the county town of Shropshire.
They are made from dough that contains sugar, flour, egg, butter and lemon zest; dried fruit is also often added.
Shrewsbury cakes can be small in size for serving several at a time, or large for serving as a dessert in themselves.
The playwright William Congreve mentioned Shrewsbury cakes in his play The Way of the World in 1700 as a simile
(“Why, brother Wilfull of Salop, you may be as short as a Shrewsbury cake, if you please. But I tell you ’tis not modish to know relations in town”).
The recipe is also included in several early cookbooks including The Compleat Cook of 1658.
“To make Shrewsbury Cakes – Take two pound of floure dryed in the oven and weighed after it is dryed, then put to it one pound of butter that must
be layd an hour or two in rose-water, so done poure the water from the butter, and put the butter to the flowre with the yolks and whites of five eggs,
two races of ginger, and three quarters of a pound of sugar, a little salt, grate your spice, and it well be the better, knead all these together till you may
rowle the past, then roule it forth with the top of a bowle, then prick them with a pin made of wood, or if you have a comb that hath not been used, that
will do them quickly, and is best to that purpose, so bake them upon pye plates, but not too much in the oven, for the heat of the plates will dry them
very much, after they come forth of the oven, you may cut them without the bowles of what bignesse or what fashion you please. ”
Call into Darwins, 8 Shoplatch, Shrewsbury SY1 1HF and have a cup of tea and try our lovely Shrewsbury cakes or just buy to take away – they make wonderful gifts.