Vintage recipes – Old Fashioned Cherry Cake, 1948

All the old school “Family Fun” games that I post from time to time remind me of just one thing – old fashioned cherry cake. Especially Up Jenkyns and Ghosts because those were the games we played with Grandad and Nan, and Nan generally provided the aforementioned cherry cake for tea. Proust had his madeleines, I have cherry cake.

Funny really, I’m not generally a fan of the glacé cherry, despite fresh cherries being maybe my favourite food ever – they’re what summer tastes like. But you need glacé cherries for this kind of cake. I had a hankering for one and searched through my old cookbooks for a suitably non-tarted-up recipe. I decided on one from The Radiation Cookery Book – originally published in the 1920s but updated and reissued for decades. I have the 1948 edition.

Radiation Cookery Book, 1948 edition

Radiation Cookery Book, 1948 edition

It’s the rich Madeira cake recipe, which has various alterations to make different cakes.


Cherry Cake

4oz/115g butter or margarine
4oz/115g caster sugar
4oz/115g glace cherries
2 eggs
6oz/170g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Grated rind of a lemon
Milk as needed

Beat the butter and sugar to a cream, add the eggs one at a time, and beat until the mixture is stiff and uniform.

Stir in the sifted flour and baking powder, adding milk if necessary to form a soft mixture which will shake easily from the wooden spoon.

Transfer to a tin lined with greased paper and bake in the middle of the oven for 1 hour and 5 minutes with the Regulo at Mark 4 (but I baked it at 180C for around 45 minutes).

This was how it turned out. It’s an art ensuring the cherries don’t sink to the bottom – an art I have not mastered, although it doesn’t really look that way from the picture. Tasted nice though, although I’d used fancy morello glacé cherries, which new-fangled it up a bit too much. Plus, the ones I used to have were round cakes, but there wasn’t enough batter for my cake tin and so it became a cherry loaf. To be fair, the recipe does say to double the quantities for a larger cake, which you would need to do for a 20cm cake tin.

Cheery cherry cake

Cheery cherry cake

Next time I’m trying the reliable Mrs Rea’s 1910 version, below.

Mrs Rea's Cookery Book, 1910

Mrs Rea’s Cookery Book, 1910

The Radiation Cookery Book contains hidden treasure in the form of this scribbled recipe by the original owner for coconut ice, a none-more-Blyton kids treat, that I am planning to make soon:

Coconut Ice recipe, 1948

Coconut Ice recipe, 1948

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *