Renaissance Recipe: Small Cakes

This Renaissance recipe is from an actual book of recipes collected by a Renaissance era cook.  We tried the small cakes and we liked them very, very much.  It’s different from modern recipes because it has no leavening agent at all.  This worried me at first, but it turned out delicious.


3 cups flour
¾ cups sugar
¾ pounds (2 ½ cups) raisins
¾ cups butter, room temperature
2 ½ Tbsp. cream
1 egg yolk
¼ tsp. nutmeg
4 Tbsp. water

And here’s what you do:

Mix together the flour, sugar, and nutmeg.
Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter or the tines of a fork.

In another bowl mix together the cream, water, and egg yolk.
Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and stir.

Stir in the raisins.

With your hands form the dough into small cakes to fit in your palm.

Place the cakes on a greased baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 20 minutes.
Let cool completely then ice with powdered sugar icing.


I don’t know about you, but we love adding food into our studies of history and geography (and even science when we can sneak it in).  We hope you enjoy these Renaissance small cakes as much as we did.

You can find many more Medieval and Renaissance recipes at Goode Cookery.



    1. I doubt they could go down to the grocery store and buy it, but sugar was brought to Europe in the Middle Ages actually. There were professional confectioners who did all kinds of amazing things with desserts throughout this time period. They made candies and icing, and even combined sugar with Tragacanth gum (naturally sap) to make molded sugars. There are lots of and lots of primary source recipes from that era. Sometimes the ingredients are things that are hard for us to come by, but we typically have something comparable.

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