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Rosewater Currant Cake

An interpretation of a recipe for "The Best Cake That Ever Was Eaten" from a 1678 manuscript by Mariabella Charles as seen in UCLA's Clark Library.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Keyword cake, currant, currants, rosewater
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 10


  • 1/2 cup butter plus one tablespoon butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tsp rosewater
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground mace (or just substitute ground nutmeg)
  • 1 1/2 cups currants


  1. In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, then add the sugar and blend until well mixed. In a measuring cup, measure out the cream, add the rosewater, and stir to combine. In a separate mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, and mace, and stir to combine.

  2. Add about 1/3 of the cream mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and mix slowly. Add about 1/3 of the flour mixture and continue mixing slowly. Repeat with 1/3 of the cream mixture, 1/3 of the flour mixture, until all is combined. Carefully fold in the currants. Scoop the batter into a greased 9" x 9" square pan (or, alternatively, into a pan that has been lined with parchment paper). Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.