Whilst in Deddington, Oxfordshire, and already feeling inspired for my next post (I am obviously on a roll at the moment!), I came across a shop that sold genuine, 100% authentic Banbury Cakes. Banbury is just up/down the road from Deddington. Having previously made these, I bought myself a packet so that I could see how the original compared to the home-baked.
From a visit to the Brown's Original Banbury Cakes website, I was delighted to learn that the current owner/baker, Phillip Brown, is related to Banbury Cake bakers dating back to the early 19th century. He himself is a direct descendent of E.W. Brown who ran 'The Original Cake Shop' from 1868 - her name appears over the door in this photo from 1902. Phillip Brown hand bakes his Banbury Cakes, and they are available for purchase online, and from a select number of shops (including A. Gold in London).
Since I wrote my earlier post about Banbury Cakes I bought Florence White's book 'Good Things in England'. She has a 'modern' recipe (dated 1929) for Banbury Cakes (alongside Gervase Markham's recipe from 1615), that is apparently for the 'same type of cake as those sold by E.W. Brown'. An indiscreet plug for the cakes reads, 'Anyone who wants to buy the best Banbury Cakes ever made can buy them from E.W. Brown, 'The Original Cake Shop', 12 Parson Street, Banbury, Oxfordshire. The recipe given is almost identical to the one that I baked for my Banbury Cakes.
My purchased Banbury Cakes were oval in shape but lacked the three slashes on top that my recipe had instructed I cut (as does the one in Florence White's book). The tops were crusted with sugar, but differed from my efforts in that they were most likely brushed with egg white and then dusted with caster sugar. I used demerara, but this may have been an embellishment of my own devising.
The pastry was, unfortunately, a little travel weary. The Banbury Cakes had only a short excursion in Ellis' changing bag, but this did compress the cakes a little. I felt that the cakes were probably best enjoyed as fresh as possible, and although they had a best-before date of almost four weeks hence, the pastry was a little dry. However, the filling of fruit, spices and sugar was positively fudgy, my only complaint was that there wasn't more of it. All in all I felt my own efforts were pretty decent - certainly in terms of the outer (hmm, to be fair I bought my pastry), and if I were to remake the cakes I would make the fillings with a little more sugar so that they could melt on the tongue in the way Mr. Brown's cakes did.