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Shrewsbury Cakes, Shropshire

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These biscuits (for such they are) are rarely found in Britain except in domestic cookery, which is a pity as once they were as famed as Scottish shortbread is today. With the boost given to Shrewsbury's tourism by Edith Pargeter it is a tradition worth reviving. The only place I have ever eaten them was in the USA, and there are plenty of recipes for Shrewsbury cakes from that country, including one in Recipes from American Cookery by Amelia Symonds from as far back as 1796. Laura Mason and Catherine Brown in their brilliant tome The Taste of Britain provide literary references to the confection, for example Congreve using them as a metaphor in The Way of the World in 1700, showing that it was indeed Shropshire 's Shrewsbury that was their home.
Recipes for the cakes vary - my trusty Edwardian edition of Cassell's Dictionary of Cookery offers five variants. Generally the ratio flour/butter/sugar is 2:1:1, though 4:1:2, 1:1:1 and others are equally acceptable.

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