Carol Singers Pepper Cake

People just don’t seem to put their hearts into Carol singing anymore. I can remember when we used to hear the knock at the door and get the entire Carol sung to us. Nowadays it seems to be the first line (if you’re lucky) and then an upturned palm thrust forward. But going back to gentler times, Carol singers were not looked upon as a nuisance. Indeed you prepared for their visit. It was a custom to prepare a large spicy cake ready to feed the Carollers. Carol Singers Pepper Cake sounds like something to be avoided but of course there is no pepper in it. This gets its name from the spices used in the recipe which originated from countries in the east which were referred to as the “pepper countries”.

This cake has features at the annual Carolling of Lynsted with Kingsdown Society (2008). This is a “members only” event, so if you are not a member and you don’t want to miss out you had better join up. You may need to hurry as party numbers are limited.

Ingredients - Serves 25-30!

675g plain flour ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
¼lb chopped almonds 675ml black treacle
225g soft dark brown sugar 4 eggs, beaten
½ teaspoon ground cloves 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon ground ginger 4 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon  


  1. Pre-heat oven to 160ºC/325ºF/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Grease and line bottom of a 23x25cm (10”x14”) roasting tin.
  3. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  4. Mix in the sugar and the spices.
  5. Put the treacle in a small saucepan and heat gently until thinned. Do not allow it to get too hot.
  6. Remove from the heat and mix the treacle into the dry ingredients along with the beaten eggs.
  7. Mix the bicarbonate of soda with the milk until dissolved and stir into the mixture, beating well.
  8. Pour the mixture into the tin.
  9. Bake for 1¼ hours (times may vary with ovens, the cake is done when it is firm to touch and a skewer inserted in the middle of the cake comes out dry).
  10. Cool in the tin, then turn on to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Store in an airtight tin for two or three days before eating. This allows the flavours to develop.


carol singers