Banbury Cakes

Wednesday 12 February 2020

I have a real fondness for the traditional recipes of this country I have come to love and adopt as my homeland. As a child in Canada I often repeated the rhyme taught to me from my nursery rhyme book about riding a horse to Banbury Cross and seeing a lady on a white horse, with bells on her fingers and rings on her toes.   
Banbury is a real place here in the UK, and the home of these delicious cakes I am sharing with you today. 

Banbury Cakes

The recipe is one I have adapted from one of my favourite little baking books, Meg Rivers Home Baking. Published in 2012 it is filled with lovely recipes.  

Every one I have ever baked has turned out wonderfully perfect and she does give measurements in both linear and metric.  I trust it and recommend this book highly.

Banbury cakes are like a round flakey puff pastry turnover, filled with dried fruits, butter spices and sugar.  Very similar I think to Eccles Cakes.  

So they are not cakes in the "Cake" sense of the word, but rather small flaky sweet pies. 

The recipe is said to date back to the thirteenth century when crusaders brought dried fruit and exotic spices back with them from their travels in the Crusades.  

Banbury Cakes are thought to be one of the oldest cake recipes  in Britain.  They are sweet, spicy, flakey and incredibly moreish when enjoyed straight from the oven. (Although I would let them cool a bit as the sugar is quite hot.)

They are also very easy to make. You simply make a filling of dried currants, raisins, chopped peel, butter, demerera sugar, butter, nutmeg and mixed spice.  

This gets place in the centre of squares of puff pastry and then folded and pressed above as explained in the recipe below.

If you read the recipe and then look at the photograph it will make perfect sense.

I like to use all butter puff pastry, which I rolled out to a 15 inch square. You don't want it to be much more than 1/8 of an inch thick as it would puff up too much in baking.  

The pastry then gets cut into 9 squares.

I like to cut my own peel for this. I buy it online, usually around Christmas time when I am making my Christmas Cake.  Usually it will arrive with an assortment of whole preserved and dried citrus peels.  

Lemon, orange, grapefruit, pomelo  . . .  I used one each of three different peels which I chopped into small bits.

I used sultana raisins, which are also known as golden raisins, and dried black Zante currants.  I would suggest if you cannot get dried currants, then you use dark raisins in their place, but do use currants if you can.

For years the growth and importation of black currants was banned in many places in the United States, but they are now making a comeback and are now grown in a few areas. 

I was able to find a source where you can buy them HERE.

You can also get them on Amazon, but I thought they were a bit pricier than my other source.  Of course here in the UK, they are readily available.  

In Canada you can get them at Bulk Barn, Walmart and I found another source here.

So now you have no excuse not to make these deliciously historic cakes/bakes with black currants!  You will find that they come in handy for all sorts.  

Lovely in cakes and bakes and cookies, salads, etc. and they are filled with goodness.

They actually contain more vitamin C than oranges, which I was surprised to learn. I always thought that oranges were the best source!  It seems I was wrong.

In any case you are going to love these beautiful pastry/cakes.  They are delicious!

Best eaten warm on the day, but meh . . .  nothing has ever stopped me from eating and enjoying a bake again on the second or the third day.  I am a pastry lover through and through.

Yield: 9

Banbury Cakes

Banbury Cakes

Crispy, buttery and flaky with a beautiful sweet sticky fruit filling.


  • 500g all butter puff pastry (1 pound) chilled
  • 120g demerara sugar (3/4 cup, turbinado sugar)
  • 60g butter (1/4 cup)
  • 120g sultana raisins (scant cup)
  • 120g Zante dried currants (scant cup)
  • 60g mixed candied peel, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 tsp mixed spice (see note)
  • 75g granulated sugar (1/3 cup)


How to cook Banbury Cakes

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/gas mark 6. Line two baking sheets with baking parchment.  Set aside.
  2. Measure all of the fruit, spices, peel and butter into a bowl along with the demerara sugar.  Mix well together, using your hands, until the mixture begins to clump and you can shape it into balls. Shape into 9 evenly sized balls.
  3. Roll the chilled puff pastry out on a lightly floured surface to  a 15 inch square, no more than 1/8 inch thick.  Cut into nine 5-inch squares.  Place a ball of fruit filling into the centre of each square.  Bring four corners up over the filling to meet in the middle and pinch shut.  Pinch all of the 4 sides shut as well.  Flip over and lightly flatten into a circle in the palm of your hand.  Using a rolling pin, with the folds on the bottom, gently roll into circles which are 4 inches in diameter, and about 1/2 inch thick. 
  4. Brush the tops lightly with some water.  Measure the granulated sugar into a bowl and lightly press the wet tops of the cakes into the sugar.
  5. Place onto the baking sheets, leaving plenty of space in between. Using a sharp knife, make three slashes into the top of each.
  6. Bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Allow to cool on the baking sheets.  Best eaten on the day.


You can easily make your own mixed spice: Combine 1 TBS ground cinnamon, 1 tsp each of ground coriander and nutmeg, 1/2 tsp of ground ginger, 1/4 tsp each of ground cloves and all spice. Mix well and store in an airtight container out of the light for up to 6 months.

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Delicious warm, delicious cold, delicious even three days old.  I'm a poet! LOL  Seriously though, I really love these old, traditional and historic recipes.

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  1. Marie, I think you may be getting confused. The blackcurrants with more vitamin C than oranges is a fruit, not unlike a blueberry in appearance, not the dried fruit currant. Blackcurrants are delicious in a pie and they are also used to make Ribena.

    1. Nevertheless they are a rich source of iron, antioxidants, and fiber, in any form currants will give your diet a super nutritional boost, but you are right it is probably only the fresh ones that are rich in Vitamin C. We have a black currant bush in our garden and it gives us loads every year. I love them in pies, muffins, cakes and jams.

    2. What she's saying is that Zante currants are actually a type of small grape, not a blackcurrant. They're Vitis, not Ribes.

  2. I always wondered what a Banbury cake is. Now I know and they look tasty!

  3. Wish I was back in UK. I miss blackcurrents and eccles cakes (banbury cakes), I do make Welsh cakes though, part of my mothers heritage. Lol.M.

    1. Welsh cakes are lovely! I love them too! xoxo

  4. I love these Banbury cakes! I froze some of them & I wonder what is the best way to reheat them? Thanks so much.��

    1. I would thaw them out completely and then warm them for a few minutes in a low oven. To reheat them in a microwave you might destroy the flakiness of the pastry. xo

  5. The link is for Zante currants. We have been able to get them in the United States for a long time since they are actually a type of red grape and not an actual currant.

    The ban was lifted a few years back, and the true currants online at Amazon are pricier and not worth it. I purchased true dried currants and they were like paper even when I soaked them. I would stick with Zante because they are tarter than regular dried grapes and better than actual dried currants.

    1. I'm not sure what the up-to-date info is on these Lady. This post is from 2020 and I was sharing what was relevant on that date! Thanks very much for your input!


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