Tuesday 8 October 2013

Tottenham Cake

Tottenham cake traybake
Tottenham Cake makes an easy tea-time traybake.

I'm still several weeks behind watching series 4 of the Great British Bake Off because I was away when it started. Of course there has been some mighty fine creations but it's not something that the contestants have made that has inspired me to bake. Instead it was one of the historical pieces about the origins of Tottenham Cake. Now I'm a bit of a sucker for all things ancient when it comes to cooking but mostly the bakes are simply unachievable. This one was different which was the reason for its invention in the first place.

The original recipe for Tottenham Cake came from Henry Chalkley who was a baker in Tottenham. He came up with the idea of a cheap to make sponge cake which he was then able to sell for just 1d with the mis-shapes selling at ½d. The pink colouring of the cake is actually natural and comes from the mulberries that grow on the tree in the burial ground of the Tottenham Quaker Friends Meeting House. Chalkley himself was a Quaker and still to this day the cake is made to share round after meetings.

I liked the simple idea of the cake and way it is designed to be shared round amongst friends. There is also a personal connection as Tottenham Cake became more famous after the local football club, Tottenham Hotspur, first won the FA Cup in 1901 (“When the year ends in one...”). Slices of the cake was given out free to school children in the area. My Father having grown up in Southgate is a Spurs supporter; although when I asked him about Tottenham Cake he had no recollection of it at all. When he used to go to matches in the 1950s and 60s trying to get to away matches was a little tricky at times so one week a group of them would go to White Hart Lane and the next week they would watch Arsenal play. Sometimes they used to go to Underhill to watch Barnet just so they could see some live football. Can you imagine North London football fans doing that these days?

While my recipe stays true to the simple nature of the original recipe I have had to cheat on the pink icing. Sadly, in this corner of suburban Sheffield there is a definite lack of mulberry trees so I have used pink food pink for the colour and a splash of raspberry flavouring for the taste. If mulberries are in abundance in your neck of the woods please make use of them.


6oz (170g) Self raising flour
1tsp (5ml) Baking powder
Pinch Grated nutmeg
5oz (140g) Unsalted butter, softened or baking spread
5oz (140g) Caster sugar
3 Large eggs, beaten
1 tsp (5ml) Vanilla extract

6oz (170g) Icing sugar
1-2 tbsp (15-30ml) Water
Pink food gel colouring
¼ tsp (1.25ml) Raspberry flavouring
2 tbsp (30ml) Desiccated coconut


1. Prepare the tin by greasing or lining it.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C/Gas mark 3.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and nutmeg together and put to one side.
4. In another bowl cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.
5. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, with a little of the flour mixture.
6. Add the vanilla extract and then fold in the flour.
7. Spoon into the prepared tray and smooth into all the corners.
8. Bake for 30-35 minutes until springy and golden brown on top. Leave to cool in the tin.
9. Once cool make the topping by sifting the icing sugar into a bowl. Gradually add the water until it reaches the right consistency for spreading across the top of the cake. Do not add too much at a time.
10. Add the pink gel colour until the right shade is achieved. Add the raspberry flavouring and mix well.
11. Pour across the top of the cake. Evenly sprinkle the desiccated coconut.
12. Leave the icing to set slightly before cutting into slices and sharing. 

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