16 May, 2012

Sultana Cake

The traditional birthday cake in my family is sultana cake. My grandmother made it for my Dad, and then Mum took over and it was the birthday cake of my childhood and I still make it for myself. It was a family cake though, for parties there was usually a chocolate cake I think! It will be heading into its fourth generation, as Hazel has discovered that she loves it (thank goodness!). I hope the smell of it baking will bring happy birthday memories back to her in years to come, as it does for me every year.

It's a lovely, light cake with a delicious hint of almonds. I'm not sure how common sultanas are in the States, but Wikipedia tells me they are also called Thompson's Seedless raisins if that will help you locate them. They're smaller and more delicate than regular raisins, although you could use them in a pinch.

I use my wooden cake box to cook it in, and can't recommend them enough - totally eliminates the need for all the lining of the tin to ensure the cake cooks slowly and evenly. In the last few years I've been using bread flour which is reputed to hold up the fruit better in these kinds of cakes, and as you can see it does a pretty good job - there is nothing worse than a layer of fruit at the bottom of the cake! You just have to be extra careful not to overmix the batter. When cooked just right the top is slightly crunchy and crumbly and the middle is soft, dense and moist. It's definitely better to under-cook it than over - test with a knife at the one hour mark. When the cake is done it will come out buttery, but with no streaks of batter. Put foil over the top if it's getting too brown.

Sultana Cake

3 cups of sultanas                            2 1/2 cups flour
1 cup butter                                     1 tsp baking powder
3 eggs                                              1 tsp almond essence
1 3/4 cups sugar
  1. Cover the sultanas water and simmer for approx. 8 minutes until soft.
  2. Pour off the water and add the butter.
  3. Sift together the dry ingredients
  4. Beat the eggs until frothy, add the sugar, and beat until thick and creamy.
  5. Add the sultanas and butter, then the sifted flour, baking powder, and almond essence and fold together gently.
  6. Line a square baking tin with several layers of baking paper or newspaper, then with tin foil. Pour the batter into the tin.
  7.  Bake in a 180C (350F) oven for about 1 1/2 hours.


  1. Yeah, right on!  Your mother's cake is in the oven cooking as I type, and your little brother is grumbling that he never had one made for him - go figure.....


  2. temptress! seducer! don't listen to Jackie this cake is the worst!!

  3. dads right i was just throwing a wobbly cause its so great...so go on an share the family secrets!! xoxoxo

  4. Poor little brother. I have to make my own cake so unless you can con Kate into making it I'm afraid you'll just have to suck it up and make one yourself! It's totally worth it and not hard.
    And I'm not sharing family secrets, I'm sharing the love.

  5. Tsk. The younger generation and their sense of entitlement. If you want cake you need to make the cake happen yourself, not grumble about not having any.
    Enjoy Mum's - mine is all gone! While I'm pleased Hazel has discovered the love, it does mean there is less for me. :(
    You don't have a wooden cake box do you?

  6. I have never heard of wooden cake boxes.  Do they ever catch fire? 

    Seriously, do you need to line them so that the cake doesn't stick?

  7. Well I can't vouch for the fire risk, but I'd think you'd have to heat them up pretty high to get them to catch. I noticed on the site they say not to heat them above 160C but I cook the sultana cake at 180 and haven't had any problems, although the base has a gap between the two pieces of wood now. The box is stained and bit cooked-looking in places, but not burned. You line them with a layer of baking paper and that's it!

  8. Ha.  I always assumed sultanas were just another name for raisins!  You leqrn something new every day.

  9. I almost want to make myself like cakes with fruit in them so that I can buy a cake box but I just can't do it! 
    Very weird BTW that as a child you liked this cake :P

  10. Babe, it was only you who was picking raisins out of things! And onions... I should try cooking a chocolate cake in the box to see how it goes, then you'd have a legitimate reason to own one!



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