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Homeschooling In The Kitchen: Baking Alfred Cakes

There are many great stories about King Alfred the Great. Perhaps the most famous legend of them all is the one where Alfred burned the cakes. The story in a nutshell:

After being driven out by the Danes, King Alfred disguised himself and hid in the marshes of Somerset, trying to formulate his plan to defeat the Vikings once and for all. During this time, Alfred took refuge in the home of a peasant woman. The woman asked Alfred (not knowing his true identity) to watch her cakes while she went about her daily chores. Unfortunately, Alfred was distracted by his deep thoughts and allowed the cakes to burn to a crisp. The woman returned, none too pleased, and scolded Alfred for his laziness. Some even say she beat Alfred with a stick!

To hear this legendary story, listen to The Dragon and The Raven. Then have some fun baking your own Alfred Cakes! In truth, the “cakes” that Alfred burned were most likely small, round loaves of bread. In England and beyond, recipes for Alfred Cakes abound. The following is just one of many recipes you can find. These cakes are very similar to scones.

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  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 3 TBSP butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup raisins, dried apricots, prunes or other dried fruit, cut into pieces
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/8 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/8 cup orange juice



  1. Preheat your oven 425ºF.
  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  1. Cut in the butter until mixture is crumbly.
  1. Stir in the fruit.
  1. In a small bowl, mix egg, cream and orange juice.
  1. Pour egg mixture into the dry ingredients and mix until all is moist.
  1. Turn onto floured surface and knead gently.
  1. Roll the dough into small biscuits, or “cakes.”
  1. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes. Serve warm with butter and jam.

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