Shrewsbury Cake

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Shrewsbury Cake or Shrewsbury biscuits are an English dessert that is named after Shrewsbury, which is a county town of Shropshire.

 

History

Not much is known about the exact origin of the Shrewsbury Cake but they have been mentioned quite commonly in literature. The very first mention of the dish has been made in Florence White’s cookbook ‘Good Things in England’ (1932) followed by the The Compleat Cook of 1658. Another recipe is also recorded by Colonel Plomer of Shrewsbury, in his family cookbook which was published in1630 to 1750.  The playwright, William Congreve has also mentioned the cakes in his play THE WAY OF THE WORLD which has published in 1700. One legend states that the original recipe was first created by Mr Pailin. It’s not certain whether Mr Pailin was a real person or a fictional character but in the county of Shrewsbury, there is a wall plaque on an old shop that states that the very first Shrewsbury Cake was made by Pailin in 1760. Another legend states that, a Miss Hill married Mr Pailin and bought the recipe with her. The Shrewsbury Cakes became so popular that a local cookie manufacturer then registered the name Pailin as a trademark and started producing Pailin’s Original Shrewsbury Cakes. These cakes were produced right up to the Second World War. During the Second World War, butter production and use was seriously rationed and the company shut down production.

 

Ingredients and Preparation

Shrewsbury Cake is prepared by mixing butter, sugar, egg yolks, plain flour and lemon rind. Leavening agents are not used. The biscuit is characterized by butter to flour mixture or 1:2, which produces the characteristic buttery snap of the biscuit.

 

Trivia

In India, a very popular local version is baked at Kayani’s Bakery in Pune, Maharashtra. The recipe is a closely guarded secret and people from all over Maharashtra flock to the bakery for the famous biscuits.