The online magazine
dedicated to the
discussion & revival
of British foodways.


Ham cake.

It took some sleuthing, but the indefatigable Editor has managed to unearth a recipe for the elusive Ongar ham cake. It is easy to make and good to eat, a sort of minimalist meatloaf. Our version adds some spice to the original but otherwise retains its traditional character.

bread_cut_by_girl007.jpg-1 thick slice bread (or 2-3 storebought)
-10 oz ale
-2 beaten eggs
-scant ½ teaspoon cayenne
-¼ teaspoon mace
-1 teaspoon dry mustard (like Colmans)


  1. Soak the bread in the ale until it disintegrates; that will not take long.

    Preheat the oven to 350

  2. Mix all the ingredients together, spoon them into a buttered bread pan, pudding basin or other mold, and bake the cake in a water bath that rises halfway up your container for an hour.
  3. The ham cake is equally good hot or cold.



-Lynn Pewsey boils the bread in the ale for her ham cake from A Taste of Essex (Romford, Essex 1994). The added step makes no discernable difference.

-The bfia recipe doubles the original asmount of bread and egg; without them the texture becomes crumbly instead of cake like.

-For added color and texture substitute about ¼ pound of good country ham, like Benton Mountain, Wigwam or Smithfield, cut into papery ribbons for a like amount of the ground ham.

-Pewsey omits the water bath but we find it reassuring.

-She also includes a recipe for ham cake made with milk instead of beer, but why?

-Never add salt to ham cake.