Tunbridge Cakes


Original Receipt:

Rub six ounces of butter into a quart of flour; then mix six ounces of sugar into three well beaten eggs, and make the flour into paste, adding a little rose-water and what spices you like. Roll the paste very thin and cut with the top of a glass, prick the cakes with a fork, and cover with caraways, or wash with the white of an egg and dust a little sugar over. Bake on tins in a moderate oven.
The Good Housekeeper, Sarah Josepha Hale, 1839


  • 1 1/2 sticks of butter, softened
  • 4 cups of sifted all-purpose butter
  • 3/4 cup of granulated or grated maple sugar (not maple syrup)
  • 1/4 cup of sugar for sprinkling atop the cakes
  • 3 eggs, well beaten
  • 1 teaspoon rose water (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon caraway seeds (optional)
  • 1 moderately beaten egg white


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a mixer, cream the butter and sugar together. Add rosewater (if desired) and eggs; blend in until smooth. Add the sifted flour (and spices if desired) a cup at a time while mixing until the dough has formed. If it is still sticky, add additional sifted flour until it is the consistency of pie crust (firm yet moist, not sticky- it needs to hold together to be rolled out).

Roll out cookie dough to about 1/4 of an inch. Cut cakes out with the lip of a small water glass or your favorite cookie cutter. Lay cookies on a buttered or greased baking sheet. Brush cookies with egg whites and sprinkle with maple sugar or caraway seeds. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes or until golden.

Omit the rosewater, spices, and caraway seeds if you want the maple sugar flavor to shine. Maple sugar has a delicate flavor that can be lost with the addition of other flavorings.