Ornamental Separator

Rich Cake

Learn about this recipe from our historic foodways staff, then try it at home

This is the cake of cakes, served at weddings, balls, and birthdays. The ingredients are expensive and the recipe time-consuming. Typically, a large cake like this was baked several months in advance of the actual date and then doused in brandy to prevent mold from growing. The result was spectacular!

18th Century

Take four pounds of flour dried and sifted, seven pounds of currants washed and rubbed, six pounds of the best fresh butter, two pounds of Jordan almonds blanched, and beaten with orange flower water and sack till fine; then take four pounds of eggs, put half the whites away, three pounds of double-refined sugar beaten and sifted, a quarter of an ounce of mace, the same of cloves and cinnamon, three large nutmegs, all beaten fine, a little ginger, half a pint of sack, half a pint of right French brandy, sweet-meats to your liking, they must be orange, lemon, and citron; work your butter to a cream with your hands before any of your ingredients are in; then put in your sugar, and mix all well together; let your eggs be well beat and strained through a sieve, work in your almonds first, then put in your eggs, beat them together till they look white and thick; then put in your sack, brandy and spices, shake your flour in be degrees, and when your oven is ready, put in your currants and sweet-meats as you put it in your hoop: it will take four hours baking in a quick oven: you must keep it beating with your hand all the while you are mixing of it, and when your currants are well washed and cleaned, let them be kept before the fire, so that they may go warm into your cake. This quantity will bake best in two hoops.

— Glasse, Hannah “The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy”

21st Century


  • 1 lb. cake flour
  • 1 lb. eggs
  • 1 lb. sugar
  • 1 lb. butter
  • ½ cup candied orange peel
  • ½ cup candied lemon peel
  • ½ cup candied citron
  • ½ cup currants
  • ½ cup almond flour
  • 1 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 tsp. mace
  • 1 ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • ¼ tsp. cloves
  • ¼ cup Sherry (sack)
  • ¼ cup Brandy


  1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Evenly grease a 10-inch Bundt pan and set aside.
  2. Beat the butter in the bowl of a standing mixer at medium-high speed until creamy, about one minute. Add the sugar and beat at high speed until light and fluffy. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. At a medium-high speed, add the eggs in gradually until the eggs are thoroughly combined with the butter and sugar. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
  3. Sift the cake flour in a separate bowl, then add the spices and almond flour. Set the mixer at a low speed, and add the flour-spice mixture gradually until thoroughly combined with the butter, sugar and eggs. Continue to mix at low speed while adding the candied ingredients and currants until thoroughly mixed into the batter. Stop the mixer and scrape the sides.
  4. Add the brandy and sherry to the batter. Mix on a medium speed until the batter is light and fluffy.
  5. Pour the batter into the Bundt pan, spreading it evenly with a rubber spatula. Place pan on middle rack in oven. Bake at 350° until a toothpick comes out clean, about 50 minutes to one hour. Allow cake to cool in the pan on a cooling rack for 30 minutes.
  6. Invert the cake onto a large plate and then invert again back onto a cooling rack. Allow cake to cool completely before slicing.

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