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Thursday 25 October 2012

Vintage Cakes: Review and Giveaway

Polenta Cake on my Great Grandmother's vintage china

Vintage Cakes 

Tremendously good cakes for sharing and giving

It doesn’t take much to encourage me to make cakes.  Currently, the market is flooded with baking books, some written by professional bakers and others by well known ‘professional’ home bakers like Mary Berry.  And then there is a whole shelf of baking books written by Great British Bake Off finalists like Jo Wheatley, Edd Kimber and Ruth Clemens.  I already have a lot of baking books but I wasn't going pass on the chance to review another book about cakes.

Jane Brocket, the author of Vintage Cakes, is also the successful author of 'The Gentle Art of Domesticity' and 'Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer'.  Both books include recipes for favourite family treats and old fashioned cakes. 

Starting out

The book starts with some 'essential' chapters. Essential ingredients; this provides a comprehensive guide to the most common ingredients used in baking.  This is followed by an equally comprehensive chapter about Essential equipment.  This isn’t a huge list of expensive kit, it’s a useful checklist with a caveat that you can ‘use what you have’ and adapt! In Essential techniques the author covers everything from oven temperature, through sifting, and testing for doneness.  These are a real boon for new or inexperienced bakers and even experienced bakers can learn from the information in these three chapters.

 The Recipes

The chapters are organised by the type of cake, I think this is really useful as most bakers have a purpose in mind when they want to bake.  There is an index at the back if you are looking for something in particular.

cake-tin cakes includes Marmalade Cake, Sticky Date Cake, Parkin, Gingerbread, Plum Streusel
everyday cakes  includes Victoria Sandwich, Welsh Cakes, Sour Cherry Muffins, Genoa Cake, Swedish Tosca Cake
little cakes includes Lamingtons, Fat Rascals, Eccles Cakes, Maids of Honour, Orange Teacakes
posh cakes includes Lemon Chiffon Cake, Sacher Torte, Coconut Cake, Marble Bundt Cake, Black Forest Gateau
fancies and frivolities includes Fondant Fancies, French Madeleines and English Madeleines, Sponge Kisses
celebration cakes includes Simnel cake, Jewelled Christmas Cake, Buche de Noel, Stollen, Red Velvet Cake
*This represents only a selection of the recipes, there are many more.*

Who is Vintage Cakes for?

This is a book for home bakers who want recipes that have been perfected over time.  All the recipes can all be made with basic baking skills, so it is ideal for someone who is new to baking or for someone who has a little experience and wants to make a range of homely comforting bakes.


The introductory chapters are well written and full of useful information.
Each recipe starts with a short descriptive paragraph including information about the history of the cake
The recipes are well organised and clearly written with excellent photographs
There are cook’s tips throughout the book and each recipe has information about how to store the cake and how long it is likely to keep.
There are enough ‘different’ recipes to keep an experienced baker interested.


Experienced bakers are likely to have recipes for about two thirds of the recipes in the book

If you baked your way through every recipe in this book, you would cover wide range of techniques and have a repertoire of cakes that would make your Granny proud!  Even with 40 years of experience of baking, I found recipes I would like to bake and some I would like to revisit.

Polenta Cake

Makes 1 medium – large cake (serves 8-10)

For the cake
Finely grated zest of 3 lemons (unwaxed or well washed)
Juice of ½ a lemon
225g soft butter, plus extra for greasing
225g caster sugar
3 eggs
200g ground almonds
110g polenta
1 level teaspoon baking powder
a pinch of salt

You will need
A 23cm springform tin or round loose-bottomed cake tin, greased with butter and base lined with baking parchment.

Preheat the oven to 160C (gas mark 3)

Start by zesting the 3 lemons, and squeezing one to obtain half its juice.  Set aside until needed.

Put the butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.  With a wooden spoon or an electric whisk, cream them together until they are pale and fluffy.  Add the eggs one by one, beating well after each addition.

Add the ground almonds, polenta, baking powder, salt and lemon juice and zest.  With a large metal spoon or flexible spatula, mix well until all the ingredients are combined.  Spoon into the prepared tin and level the surface with the back of the spoon or spatula.

Bake in the preheated oven for 45-50 minutes until the cake is golden brown and pulling away from the sides of the tin and a metal skewer or sharp knife inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for 10 minutes before turning out of the tin.  Serve with creamy yogurt or mascarpone, and a glass of something nice and chilled.  Polenta cake is also delicious with a light tea such as Darjeeling.

STORAGE: Polenta cake keeps well for up to 3 days if wrapped in aluminium foil and stored in an airtight tin in a cool place.

 What a fantastic cake, it's moist, with a lemony tang and a lovely grainy texture from the almonds and polenta.  I have no doubt I will make this cake again.  I didn't want to make a big cake, so halved the ingredients and made it in a small pie tin, it behaved beautifully.  I sliced it up and froze most of it, so it will be interesting to see what it is like when it thaws.  It would make a great dessert cake, served warm with cream or ice cream.


I have one copy of Vintage Cakes by Jane Brocket to giveaway. To enter this giveaway, please leave a comment on this post telling me which cake evokes warm and comforting memories of your childhood.  So I am able to contact you, should you win, can you please also leave contact details e.g. farmersgirlkitchen at gmail dot com OR your Twitter name e.g. @serialcrafter
The giveaway will close at 7pm on Saturday 3rd November 2012.
This giveaway is open to those with a UK residence address only.
The winner will be chosen by Random Number Generator and the blog owner's decision will be final.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored giveaway, Vintage Cakes and the giveaway copy was supplied by Jacqui Small LLP an Imprint of Arum Press

And the Winner is...LynB 


 I'm entering the Polenta Cake for the October Random Recipe Challenge.  Dom at Belleau Kitchen challenged us to put our hands in the cupboard and pull out something we hadn't used, then look through some cookbooks till we found one which had a recipe for that ingredient and to make it.

My ingredient was Polenta,  I bought the pack in the summer, but have never got around to making anything with it.  I took a pile of cookbooks including those I had been sent for review and, hey presto, Polenta Cake!

Vintage Cakes is published by Jacui Small LLP
RRP - £25
Popular online book store: £13.50

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At 25 October 2012 at 19:15 , Blogger Maggie said...

Definitely Genoa Cake made with golden syrup. @MaggieFoodie

At 25 October 2012 at 19:24 , Blogger Chele said...

Great review Janice, and a great book too. That polenta cake looks like the business. For me the cake that evokes the most memories has to be the chocolate cake my Mum taught me to make when I was younger. It had a bit of something for everyone, including my fave part ... the brownie like center (and the bowl to lick too lol)

At 25 October 2012 at 19:48 , Blogger Unknown said...

Never thought to make cake with polenta! Have to try that!! And the Genoa Cake Maggie mentioned... I have golden syrup just begging me to use it.

I'd have to say the cakes that have the best childhood memories for me are the teddy bear and bunny birthday cakes my mom made for my sister and I, using tin cans to make smaller cakes for the arms and legs. Mine was always a chocolate bear... hers was always a white cake bunny. Haha!

At 25 October 2012 at 21:01 , Anonymous Corina said...

My mum's chocolate cake. She's been making it the same way ever since I can remember.

At 25 October 2012 at 21:50 , Blogger olivia280177 said...

My mum's chocolate cake with melted chocolate and crumbled up Flake on the top.

At 25 October 2012 at 22:55 , Blogger Choclette said...

Nice review Janice. I like the way you've ended with the pros and cons, a good tip which I might, if I ever get organised enough, emulate. Your polenta cake looks lovely and light and sounds delicious too.

Rock cakes were my mother's go to bake and that's what makes me feel warm and cosy.

At 26 October 2012 at 09:01 , Blogger Unknown said...

excellent review Janice and a beautiful looking cake... polenta is a bit of an enigma ingredient for me... I really want to use it but haven't and i'm sure it would just sit in the back of my cupboard like yours did... thanks so much for entering with such a lovely blog post x

At 26 October 2012 at 09:04 , Anonymous Fiona Maclean said...

very sensible comments;) And the polenta cake looks yum!

At 26 October 2012 at 13:26 , Blogger Galina Varese said...

My Mum wasn't into cake-baking, so can't really think of any that would invoke childhood memories. I used to love a shop-bought chocolate cake called Prague, does this count? :)

At 26 October 2012 at 14:55 , Anonymous unikorna said...

I love the recipe, some of the ingredients are hard to find here in Eastern Europe but...I could improvise...I love your photos, your arrangements...they are so inviting :).

At 26 October 2012 at 18:35 , Blogger Buttaz said...

Sounds like a great book to me. I think I'd get it even if I do have the recipes elsewhere.

The simple Victoria sponge makes me thing of home. Every birthday me and my sisters would get a different flavoured cake depending on our whims at the time. A slice of Victoria sponge takes me back every time.

At 26 October 2012 at 20:31 , Blogger Karen S Booth said...

Excellent review Janice, and I love Jane, I have her cherry cake and ginger beer book, and I love her style of writing. The cake of my childhood is my mum's Victoria Sandwich cake with homemade jam and layers of fluffy whipped cream......and secondly, her Dundee cake, rich and full of fruit with a nip of whisky, loaded with almonds on for winter and one for summer! Karen

At 26 October 2012 at 20:34 , Blogger Jacqueline Meldrum said...

You know I have never made a polenta cake before, so it nice to have a recipe already tested for me :)

At 27 October 2012 at 13:48 , Blogger Caroline Cowe said...

Fairy cakes with dolly mixtures on top take me back to my childhood!

At 27 October 2012 at 21:32 , Anonymous Lucy chedtaylor at hot mail dot com said...

Great review - I am very interested in using polenta after reading the recipe.

Childhood memories - I am torn between home made ginger cake and fruit cake which was homemade from the shop opposite. It was very dark like an xmas cake.My dad used to have it with butter but the rest of us ate it plain.

At 27 October 2012 at 23:28 , Blogger Angela M - Garden Tea Cakes and Me said...

Sounds like a lovely book Janice. I like the idea of the cakes being organised by type, as you say generally before you bake you already have an idea of the type of baking you want to do.

I think of Chocolate cake decorated with chocolate buttons.



At 28 October 2012 at 19:46 , Blogger Please Do Not Feed The Animals. said...

Am I allowed to say my Mum's Christmas cake? That has the best memories for me. We didn't have an awful lot of cake otherwise I don't think. More traybakes and truffles and things like that were made at home.

Here is the link to the polenta cake I was telling you about with the grapes. It was beautiful. Recipe in the post.

At 28 October 2012 at 22:22 , Blogger Rainie Bish said...

for me it has to be Lardy cake. My nan used to make it and I've never tasted anything so good. It was sweet, sticky and so delicious.

At 29 October 2012 at 21:59 , Blogger Unknown said...

That polenta cake looks lovely, I've never tried one before so will have to give it a go at some point.

The cakes I remember from my childhood are the birthday cakes my Mum used to make for me. Also my Grandma's fairy cakes, she always used to decorate them with those canided lemon and orange slices. They were always a highlight of going round ot visit.

On twitter as @BlueKitchenBake

At 30 October 2012 at 00:01 , Blogger sarahlouisa said...

It would have to be a Victoria sponge cake, my Nan would always bake it from scratch for tea every friday afternoon :)

At 30 October 2012 at 00:04 , Blogger Lyn B said...

Lemon Drizzle! It was always a tradition that my Mum would bake this every new years day!

At 30 October 2012 at 14:28 , Blogger Kim Carberry said...

Fairy cakes reminds me of being a child....I make them with my children now...

At 30 October 2012 at 14:40 , Blogger Ruth Ellis said...

Lemon polenta is such a delicious combination - and this one looks fantastic. The cake that reminds me most of childhood is rock buns, made with a hidden tsp of jam inside them, still warm from the oven with a glass of milk. Knowing my Mum they'd probably have been wholemeal, but were still sweet and warm and perfect. @MakeyCakeyRuth

At 30 October 2012 at 16:57 , Blogger Vanessa @ Cakes and Teacups said...

Yay! We both pulled out polenta's. I made Nigella's recipe and it's my first time making this cake. yours looks really nice and moist. Your giveaway is lovely wish I could've had a chance to enter. Anyway, I'm your new follower now hope to see you at mines : )

At 31 October 2012 at 15:29 , Blogger happyfox said...

Victoria Sandwich and bread pudding - that lovely smell when you get home from school and there's warm cake waiting :)

At 1 November 2012 at 23:55 , Blogger Lynne O'Connor said...

Butterfly cakes - these were only made for special occasions so they remind me of birthday parties and visits from my nan and other relatives no longer with us. @spanglisher


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I love to read your comments and try to reply when I can. I have had to enable comment moderation due to high levels of spam, so it may take a little time before your comment is visible. Please let me know if you make one of my recipes or if you have any questions I will try to answer them. Janice

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