Saturday, 12 May 2012

ladysmith cake

early in my blog life last year i came across a website by the name of 'ladies, a plate' to which i subscribed..i discovered that the new zealand author, alexa johnston, had also written and published three cookery books called 'ladies, a plate: traditional home baking', 'a second helping: more from ladies a plate' and 'what's for pudding?'..i had aspirations to own one of them on the basis that i have a strong interest in old fashioned recipes of the type in these books but i decided not to order any of them because i like to peruse books before i purchase..

when i was in new zealand recently i remembered the books and so i went in search of the end i decided to buy 'a second helping' rather than 'ladies, a plate' because i was familiar with most of the recipes in the latter book..

it's taken me longer than i planned to make a recipe from the book because i still have a persistent cold that i got in new zealand..anyway today i baked the 'ladysmith cake' which is apparently a new zealand invention that celebrates the lifting of the four-month siege, during the boer war, of the south african town of ladysmith in february 1900.. it's just one of the many interesting and different looking cakes in the book..

ladysmith cake
from 'a second helping: more from ladies, a plate'
alexa johnston


185 gms butter
185 gms sugar (i used castor sugar)
1 tsp vanilla essence
3 eggs
185 gms plain flour
1 tablespoon (tbs) cornflour
1 teaspoon (tsp) baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp mixed spice*
4 tbs jam**
50 gms walnuts


~preheat oven to 180 deg c
~grease and line an 18 cm square cake tin
~sift flour, cornflour and baking powder
~cream butter and sugar
~beat in vanilla and add eggs one at a time beating well after each addition
~gently fold in dry ingredients 
~divide mixture in two and add spices to one half
~spoon this mix evenly into prepared tin
~spoon jam evenly over the spicy cake mixture 
~top with the remaining cake mixture and sprinkle with walnuts
~bake for 50-60 minutes or until cooked
~cool the cake in the tin for 10 minutes and then remove the cake to a cake rack to cool


* cocoa can be used instead of mixed spice
** raspberry, strawberry or blackcurrant (i used homemade strawberry jam)

this is a lovely cake with interesting flavours and's moist and light with a subtle spicy flavour..the addition of the jam is welcome because the cake itself is not overly sweet and the toasted walnuts add a nice crunchy contrast..i think it's a great cake for afternoon tea and i can see myself making it often in the future..the only thing i would do differently next time is to add a little more jam..

happy mother's day to all those celebrating tomorrow..x 


  1. This cake looks and sounds delicious Jane, I love the idea of crunchy walnuts with the jam and cake. I must admit eyes went straight to that beautiful little red enamel pot, what a treasure.

    1. thanks jane..i couldn't believe my eyes when i saw this teapot on the shelf at the op shop last's in pristine condition unlike some others i have that are so badly damaged i am loathe to use them to make tea..

  2. That cake looks delicious. Good to know there are other tea addicts out there! I can't get going in the morning without a couple of cups :)

    1. thanks for visiting serendipity and for your comments..i like to start the day with a whole pot of tea..all to myself..:)

  3. Jane I love that tea pot too. I'd have it filled with chai in the morning... actually and probably in the afternoon as well, (to go with the cake you see.)
    I think some afternoon tea sitting at your new outdoor setting would be just the thing.

    (Happy Mothers Day to you too for yesterday :-)

  4. What a scumptious looking cake! I love your little red teapot.

    I'm a new follower! I have loved reading your blog which I chanced upon by way of Zaranne Handmade.