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Iced Cherry Cake // 1920s

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

This 1928 recipe delivers a perfect classic celebration cake that is fit for any occasion, be it a relaxed coffee morning or birthday party. In fact, we reckon it'd make a lovely birthday cake! This cake got top marks from our families - it's definitely one that we'll be revisiting.
Original Recipe: 'Iced Cherry Cake' (Book 4, 1928)
Speed: 2½ hours | Serves: 6-8


For the sponge cake

  • 170g butter or margarine

  • 170g caster sugar

  • 3 eggs

  • 226g plain flour

  • ½ tsp. baking powder

  • 113g glacé cherries, halved

  • 56g candied citrus peel

  • 4 tbsp. milk

For decoration

  • 226g icing sugar - plus extra, in case you feel that you need more

  • 4 tbsp. tepid water

  • 1 drop of red food colouring



Making the sponge

1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C fan (350°F/Gas Mark 4). Grease and line a small round cake tin (8 inches in diameter).

2. In a bowl, sift together the flour and baking powder and mix these to fully combine.

3. Cream together the butter and sugar in a separate, larger bowl. Add in the eggs one at a time, beating these in well at each addition until light and creamy.

4. Add to the egg mixture the flour, stirring this in until fully combined. Add a little milk if you find that the sponge is too heavy, but try to keep this as little as possible as you will need a rather firm sponge to prevent the fruit from dropping to the bottom. We added about 4 tbsp. of milk, which worked well.

5. Set one of the glacé cherry halves aside and pour the rest of these and the candied peel into the cake batter, mixing them in.

6. Pour into the prepared cake tin and bake for about 1 hour, or until cooked through. Then, carefully remove from cake from the tin and leave to cool completely on a wire rack before decorating. Once cool enough to handle, level the top (and eat the scraps for an extra boost of energy!).

Decorating the cake

7. Rub the icing sugar through a sieve into a saucepan, and add 2 tbsp. of tepid water, mixing this in slowly until fully combined. This is the amount of water that the recipe specifies to use, but it is in no way enough, so then proceed to add 1 tbsp. of tepid water, mixing this in completely, until you have the desired coating consistency. You will know that it is ready when the icing is able to thickly and smoothly coat the back of your spoon. Then, set your saucepan on a low heat for about 12 more seconds and stir your icing before removing from the heat.

8. Turn a bowl upside down on top of a large plate and place the cake on top of the bowl. This provides a good 'icing platform'! Pour most of the icing over the cake, leaving 1 tbsp. in the saucepan. Even the icing out over the top and then across the sides as well as you can.

9. Colour the remaining icing pink using a tiny drop of red food colouring.

10. Make a piping coronet/cone out of a triangle of baking paper (see video for how to do this!) and either leave a tiny hole at the end or snip off a tiny piece at the bottom before filling with the pink icing.

11. Pipe on the icing to match the picture (as we have) with a classic combo of straight and squiggly lines and dots, or how ever else you desire!

12. Finally, place your remaining cherry on top and serve!


Original Recipes for 'Iced Cherry Cake'

'BOOK 4': Bestway Cookery Gift Book (Third Book) (1928)

By: Best Way

Publisher: Offices of The 'Best Way' Series (Fleetway House, Farringdon Street, London, E.C.4, England, U.K.)

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