Sunday, 12 February 2017



I came across this very old-fashioned cake book in a 10p rummage bin in a charity bookshop and I've been enjoying it immensely. Originally published in 1964, I'm guessing it was old-fashioned even then; in fact, I'm wondering if this might be the last ever published recipe for rout cakes which I think of as very Jane Austen-ish. I made several batches of little cherry rout cakes before Christmas - a bit fiddly but you only have to flash-bake them for five mins and they're pretty and people seemed to like them. I've got a ginger cake in the oven right now. Margaret Bates was an old-fashioned Domestic Science teacher in Belfast and there's several Northern Irish recipes ... I keep meaning to try the potato apple cake 'from the orchard districts of County Armagh. And Jap fancies ... anyone remember Jap fancies? They were my favourite as a child but they were bought cakes; far too fiddly to make at home.

Incidentally, does anyone out there what China ginger is? I'm guessing that it's crystallised ginger - but it's not something I've ever come across and it's not in the glossary, so presumably in 1964 it was assumed that you'd know. I'm wondering if maybe it's an Irish term?

7 comments:

callmemadam said...

I remember jap fancies, bought from the bakery at the end of the road. They seem to have gone the way of cream buns.
I like the sound of this book!

Mary said...

I haven't seen one in decades, callmemadam. You can still get a cream bun but they're not as good as they used to be.

Sue said...

Well, Waitrose stem ginger in syrup comes in jars with Chinese writing and motifs on, so I guess it's this? Love old fashioned cooke books - have you seen Jane Brocket's Vintage Cakes, Mary?

Veronica Cooke said...

I've never heard of Jap fancies, Mary, the name sounds a bit suspect to me! The book looks lovely; I have a Mrs. Beeton cookbook and still make recipes from it especially milk puddings.

I've no idea what china ginger is...

Mary said...

It's not stem ginger, Sue, because she refers to that separately. Yes, I bought a copy of Vintage Cakes when it was reduced to a couple of pounds in M&S. I've used it quite a bit; the cakes always turn out well.

Every cake shop had them, Veronica - certainly into the 70s, I'm not sure when they disappeared. I suppose they were a bit sickly, but not as sickly as today's cup cakes. I expect if you looked in Larousse the proper name would be Japonaises but everybody called them Jap fancies.

Toffeeapple said...

Most of the ginger in sale in Britain is grown in China, but that isn't much help to you is it? Sorry!

Mary said...

I wondered about fresh ginger, Toffeeapple - but it says that China ginger should be in every kitchen cupboard, and fresh ginger would soon shrivel ; anyway, I don't recall seeing it back in the Sixties. I think it has to be crystallised; can't think of anything else that would fit.