This cake was eaten by the poor of Dublin in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, for it was very cheap because it was made by bakers from their stale cake or bread stocks. This can be made with stale cake rather than bread if preferred, in which case omit the dried fruit.
- 8 slices stale bread, crusts cut off
- 2 tbsp + 1 tsp plain flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2 tsp mixed spice
- 110 g (4 oz) brown sugar
- 1½ tbsp butter
- 175 g (6 oz) currants or mixed dried fruit
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 3 tbsp (60 ml) milk
- 350 g (12 oz) shortcrust pastry
- sugar for sprinkling
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Soaking time 1 hour
1. Soak the bread in a little water for an hour, then squeeze the moisture out. Combine the flour, baking powder, mixed spice, sugar, butter, fruit, beaten egg and milk. Mix well.
2. Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/gas mark 5.
3. Line the bottom of a 22 cm (9 in) square tin with half of the pastry and spread the mixture over, then cover with the remaining pastry. Make a few diagonal gashes across the top and bake for about an hour.
4. Sprinkle the top with sugar and allow to cool in the tin, then cut into 24 small squares. (A square of this size used to be sold for a halfpenny.)