Monday, August 02, 2010

Ladysmith Cake

Ladysmith Cake is apparently a Kiwi invention, and it appears in so many vintage recipe books so I assume it is (or at least was) rather popular, but to be honest I had never had it until this year. Here's a great version that was taken from a recipe book published way back in 1940; (credit for the recipe goes to Mrs Hugh Carswell).

edit: I've recently discovered it was named to celebrate the lifting of a four-month siege of the South African town of Ladysmith in February 1900, during the Boer War.

The cake itself has a yummy subtle spiciness to it, and is so light and soft. I also love how the walnuts become lovely and toasted at the top, combined with the jam in the centre, this is a beautiful combination of textures and flavours. It has now become one of my "go-to" cake recipes, an awesome addition to any afternoon tea.


185g butter
185g sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
185 g flour
1 Tbsp cornflour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice
4 Tbsp jam (any berry jam is ideal, raspberry, strawberry, or my favourite; blackcurrant)
1/4 cup (50g) chopped walnuts


Preheat your oven to 180 Celsius and grease or line a cake tin (the original recipe refers to an 18cm square cake tin as being ideal, but I use a 20cm round tin.)

Cream the butter and sugar, beat in the vanilla, then add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

Fold in the flour, cornflour and baking powder. Scoop half the mixture into a separate bowl, sift the spices on top, fold them through, then spread evenly into the cake tin.

Spoon the jam onto the spicy cake mixture and carefully spread as evenly as possible, then top with remaining plain cake mixture.

Sprinkle with walnuts.

Bake for 50-60 minutes.


  1. This looks like a cake I would eat all by myself. Definitely have to try it with the three-berry jam.

  2. We pretty much ate the whole thing in one evening. So yeah you might have trouble sharing this one. :P

  3. Hello there! Just popping by to let you know I bookmarked this recipe gosh..probably when you first posted it! And finally got around to making it today
    It FAR exceeded my expectations, i mean i hoped it would be as lovely as it sounded but wasnt expecting it to be quite so delicious. Me and my mum have literally eaten about half of it already, its so moorish!
    I blogged about it today, I hope thats ok :)
    Thank you for this real star of a recipe, I truly think this will become a cake I make very often indeed

  4. Hi Procrastobaker, of course it's okay, I'm so glad you loved it as much as I do!

  5. This cake is not a kiwi invention. It stems from the seige of Laydmith in South Africa during the Boer war.

    1. Hi Sue, all I can find that it was named to celebrate the lifting of the siege, but no info as to where the actual cake was invented? If you have any more information I'd love to hear it.

  6. It was a cake made by Earnest Adams bakery in the 1970s. Had chocolate icing on top. Was my favourite but they stopped making it. Will try this recipe.


Thanks for taking the time to leave me a message!