7 Annotations

First Reading

Alan Bedford  •  Link

...was served on Twelfth Night (Feast of the Epiphany), January 6. The following annotations relating to Twelfth-cake and some related Epiphany traditions (slightly edited/abridged here) were noted for the entry of January 6, 1659/60:

Warren Keith Wright on Mon 6 Jan 2003, 11:18 pm | Link

QUEEN and KING: January 5th was Twelfth Night (whence the title of Shakespeare

Mark Ynys-Mon  •  Link

Just as an aside. I have now made a currant cake such as Pepys would have eaten (see http://www.pepysdiary.com/diary/1…) as I have that same Pepys at Table book. It tastes alarmingly similar to the Venison Pasty! Same spices etc. It is much *much* sweeter though.

dirk  •  Link


(Originally posted as annotation to 14 May 1662.)

”[…] the precursors of modern cakes (round ones with icing) were first baked in Europe sometime in the mid-17th century. This is due to primarily to advances in technology (more reliable ovens, manufacture/availability of food molds) and ingredient availability (refined sugar). At that time cake hoops—round molds for shaping cakes that were placed on flat baking trays—were popular. They could be made of metal, wood or paper. Some were adjustable. Cake pans were sometimes used. The first icings were usually a boiled composition of the finest available sugar, egg whites and [sometimes] flavorings. This icing was poured on the cake. The cake was then put back into the oven for a while. When taken out the icing cooled quickly to form a hard, glossy [ice-like] covering. Many cakes made at this time still contained dried fruits (raisins, currants, citrons).
During the 17th-18th centuries, both the English and Americans feasted on “great cakes,” sometimes called “bride’s cakes” or “bride’s pies” as the event required. These special cakes were also not unlike traditional fruitcake.”


jeannine  •  Link

From Robert May's "The Accomplisht Cook", 1660 (as it appears in "Pepys at Table" by Driver and Berriedale-Johson).


"Take half a bushel of the best flour you can get, very finely searced, and lay it on a large pastry board, make a hole in the middle thereof, put to it three pounds of the best butter you can get; with 14 pounds of currants finely picked and rubber, three quarts of good new thick cream, warmed, 2 pounds of fine sugar beaten, 3 pints of new ale barm or yeast, 4 ounces of cinnamon beaten fine and searsed, also an ounce of beaten ginger, 2 ounces of nutmegs beaten fine and searsed, put in all these materials together, and work them into indifferent stiff paste, keep it warmed till the oven be hot, them make it up and bake it, being baked an hour and a half ice it, then take four pounds of double refined sugar, beat it and searce it and put it in a cleaned scowered skillet the quantity of a gallon, and boil it to a candy height with a little rosewater, then draw the cake, run it all over and set it in the oven till it be candied".

Michael Robinson  •  Link

"To make a Cake the way of the Royal Princess, the Lady Elizabeth, daughter to King CHARLES the first. ...." (for full text press 'transcript' button, link page right)

The Queens Closet Opened,[London]: Printed by J.W. for Nath. Brooke, 1668


Second Reading

Bill  •  Link

CAKE, a flat Loaf of Bread, commonly made with Spice, Fruit, &c.; Also any Bread of a flat Form.
---An Universal Etymological English Dictionary. N. Bailey, 1675.

Bill  •  Link

1. A kind of delicate bread. Dryden.
2. Any thing of a form rather flat than high. Bacon, Dryden.
---A Dictionary Of The English Language. Samuel Johnson, 1756.

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Chart showing the number of references in each month of the diary’s entries.









  • May