Samuel Pepys' Recipe for Cakes 1666

The Complete Diary



Of the many events recorded in Samuel Pepys' Diaries the Fire of London is one of the most significant.

An article in The Guardian of January 9th 2001 suggests that the fire might have been caused by burning some small cakes. Here is a contemporary recipe for the cakes which might have caused the Great Fire of London.

Small Cakes - after a recipe from Sir Kenelme Digby, 1669.
from "The Closet of Sir Kenelme Digby Opened."

Small Cakes Recipe

Take one pound of very fine flower, and put to it half a pound of sugar. Add one pound of currants well washed. When your flower is well mixed with the sugar and currants, you must put in it a half a pound of melted butter, three spoonfuls of milk, with the yolks of three new-laid eggs beat with it, some nutmeg; and if you please, three spoonfuls of Sack.

When you have mixed your paste well, you must put it in a dish by the fire, till it be warm.

Then make them up in little cakes, and prick them full of holes. Bake them in a quick oven unclosed. Afterwards sprinkle them with sugar.

The Cakes should be about the bigness of a hand-breadth and thin; of the cise of the Sugar Cakes sold at Barnet.

Word List: flower = flour, cise = size, bigness = size, sack = dry Spanish wine (can be left out or dry sherry used instead)


1 pound self raising flour.
Half pound caster sugar
i pound currants
half pound butter
3 tablespoons milk
3 egg yolks
pinch of nutmeg
3 tablespoons Sack
icing sugar (to sprinkle on top)

1 kilogram = 2.2 pounds
Place in oven for 15 minutes at 200C - with the door shut