Thursday, 28 March 2013

Goosnargh cakes

Last time, I teased you with a photo of a spice and asked you to guess what it was. Well, I can now reveal that they're caraway seeds and they're the essential ingredient in a traditional Lancashire treat, Goosnargh Cakes. Tradition has it that they were originally eaten on feast days such as Easter and Whitsun, though they're now available all year round. Goosnargh (pronounced Goozna) is a small town also known for its corn-fed ducks and chickens and much loved by celebrity chefs.

I first came across Goosnargh Cakes at a bakery in Preston, Elsie's Pantry, which sadly closed down several years ago. The cakes are actually a shortbread (shortcake), which is probably my all-time favourite kind of biscuit. It's the caraway seeds which give them their distinctive slightly aniseed flavour. However, don't worry if you don't like aniseed as it's more of a hum in the background unless you add a lot.

The other spice found in Goosnargh Cakes is ground coriander though there are mixed views on whether it should be included or not. However, as it seemed an unusual flavouring for a biscuit, I decided to give it a go. And the result? To be honest, I'm not sure I could taste it but maybe it's one of those background flavours that you'd miss if it wasn't there.

You'll also notice quite a bit of sugar on the top of the cakes. There's only a small amount in the mixture but you make up for it by sprinkling a lot on later! The first sprinkle is added when the cakes are raw as the idea is that the sugar melts and forms a crust as they bake. One of the recipes said to add a 1/4 inch layer! I was much less generous than that. A second sprinkling is then added when they're hot out of the oven. I actually don't remember there being a sugar crust on the cakes I ate from Elsie's so they must have added more sugar to the recipe itself, which is an option if you don't like to see the amount of sugar you're eating!

What I can say is that this recipe gives a gloriously crumbly, melt-in-the mouth texture and I've had to restrain myself from scoffing the lot in one go. Have I tempted you enough yet? OK then, time to make yourself a batch - I'd love to know what you think if you do decide to give the recipe a go.

Goosnargh cakes

110g butter
20g caster sugar
180g plain flour
1tbsp caraway seeds
1tbsp ground coriander
extra caster sugar for sprinkling

1. Cream together the butter and sugar.
2. Combine the flour, caraway seeds and ground coriander and mix with the sugar and butter.
3. Use your hands to pull the mixture into a dough, then roll out to 1/4 inch thick.
4. Cut out rounds using a cutter - mine was a 2 1/4 inch cutter.
5. Put the rounds onto a baking sheet leaving a little space between to allow for spreading during baking.
6. Sprinkle with caster sugar. 
7. Put the tray in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight to firm up.
8. Preheat the oven to 140C/120C Fan/Gas 1.
9. Bake the cakes for about 30 minutes until firm, though don't let them brown.
10. Sprinkle with more sugar and leave to cool on the baking tray.


  1. ooh they sound very good - and I have some caraway seeds in the cupboard ...

    Nikki x

  2. I just love caraway seeds so must try these, my Mum used to make a seedy cake which my Dad and me adored.
    My cousin lives in Goosnargh, how small our world is! I've never been up to visit but I hear good things about the place.
    Thank you for reading my blog and leaving a comment, it is muchly appreciated and I'm going to read some of your older posts now with a lovely cuppa and then check my store cupboard for caraway seeds as it's Cake and Bake Club this weekend.


    1. I just love your quilts and baked goods, they look amazing! I'm am definitely going to be pinching some of your recipes. Please tell me where you bought your teapot cookie cutter from, I have been looking for one for months now, I'm running out of places to search! X

    2. Hi Beckah, thank you for all your lovely comments - let me know if you do try any of the recipes. The teapot cutter was from Hobbycraft - I'm pretty sure they still sell them - good luck! x

    3. You are very welcome, all comments are true. I certainly will let you know about the recipes. Thank you, I should be going to a town with a Hobbycraft in the next week or so, fingers crossed. I tried Peak Village in Rowsley, Derbyshire today as they have a decent kitchen type shop but they didn't have any, I did get some very nice cupcake shaped ones there though.X

  3. They look so good! I think my G would like these... Love your bowls in the first photo.
    Marianne xxxx

  4. These look wonderful. I've had two conversations today, with totally separate people, about baking with caraway seeds. I'm starting to think that I should take the hint and bake something! x

  5. Wow, those are some great photos of cookies! I would get "carried away" with eating them. HA HA
    You know, I must tell you, I really love your header photo of the mantel in your home. I think that photo could win a contest, I love it. xx