Warrington Cakes

You’ve probably heard of Eccles Cakes, you might have heard of Bakewell Tarts, you may even have heard of Chelsea Buns but have you ever heard of … Warrington Cakes?

No, we hadn’t either. However, while we were carrying out research for the Edible England Heritage Open Day events this year we discovered the following recipe in a 115 year old book in our archives:

Having looked through the archive we can’t find any other reference to Warrington Cakes so we’re a little bit mystified as to Miss Atherton’s recipe. Because the book isn’t illustrated we don’t even know what Warrington cakes looked like – based on the recipe alone we’re thinking that they may have been a form of rock cake?

So we asked ourselves, can we produce a modern version of this recipe?

Miss Atherton’s recipe is over a century old so we’ve had to do a little bit of conversion to bring it up to date. For instance you can still use lard in the recipe but as it’s not all that easy to get hold of these days (and not very healthy) so we’re suggesting substituting a slightly larger amount of unsalted butter because it has a slightly lower fat percentage. A little bit more research and we’ve learned that a “quick oven” is equivalent to 200 degrees centigrade (or 190 degrees with a fan oven).

So please find our updated Warrington Cakes recipe below:

Warrington Cakes 2021 (with apologies to Miss Atherton)


  • 0.5 lbs (230 grams) of plain flour
  • 1 oz (28 grams) of candied peel
  • 1 egg (beaten) + additional beaten egg for glazing
  • 2 oz (57 grams) of caster sugar + additional for sprinkling on top
  • 2 oz (57 grams) of lard OR 2.25 oz (67 grams) of unsalted butter
  • 2 oz (57 grams) of sultanas
  • 1 teaspoonful of baking powder
  • Milk


  1. Heat your oven to 200 degrees C (190 degrees for a fan oven or gas mark 6)
  2. In a mixing bowl rub the lard/butter into the flour until you achieve a “bread crumb” consistency.
  3. Add the candied peel, sugar, sultanas and baking powder to the mixture.
  4. Add the beaten egg.
  5. Mix the ingredients together adding sufficient milk to make a stiff paste/dough that is not too wet.
  6. Place the mixture in heaps on a greased baking tray (or one lined with baking parchment) leaving gaps between them.
  7. Brush the heaps with egg.
  8. Sift some sugar on the top of the heaps.
  9. Bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes until they are lovely and golden.
  10. Leave the cakes to cool


If you manage to make some Warrington Cakes then do let us know how they turn out!