Chorley Cakes

chorley cakes

Chorley Cakes have been on my Must Bake list for while. Recipes for these lesser known cakes are quite elusive, even my trusty collection of vintage cookbooks couldn’t provide me with a full recipe, however as a teenager growing up on the Merseyside/Lancashire border it wasn’t unknown for me to make these in Home Ec so these are my version from what I can remember.

They are very much known as being a cake where each household had their own version but still remaining as a frugal bake with less ingredients than it’s slightly fancier cousin the Eccles Cake. The Eccles Cake is sweeter than the Chorley Cake and is made with puff/flaky pastry plus another regional variation is the East Lancashire’s Sad Cake essentially being a giant Chorley Cake that is cut into slices like pizza. The best way to eat Chorley Cakes is very slightly warm with a thin layer of butter and a small piece of crumbly Lancashire cheese.

I may us the Chorley Cake method for making mince pies this year, similar to when I’ve made Eccles Mince Pies in the past. It’s also likely I will make these with my pupils in the near future as it is good practice at making shortcrust pastry. The addition of baking powder to the pastry helps make the pastry lighter. As with any pastry remember to use chilled ingredients to stop the fat melting and separating from the flour.

Chorley Cakes

Makes 12 cakes


For the pastry

  • 225 g plain flour
  • 110 g cold butter cubed
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • cold water

for the filling

  • 25 g butter
  • 1 tbsp sugar optional
  • small amount of grated nutmeg
  • 100 g currants sultanas or raisins
  • 1 egg beaten


  • In a bowl sieve in flour, salt and baking powder. Rub in the butter until you have a breadcrumb consistency then add the chilled water 1 TBSP at a time until you have a nice dough. Press dough into a disk, cover in clingfilm and chill in the fridge while you prepare the filling.
  • Melt the butter then stir in the sugar, nutmeg and currants.
  • Roll the dough out until 5mm thick. Cut out a disk approximately 8cm in diameter.
  • Place 1 tbsp of the mixture in the middle of the disk and fold in the edges so the mixture is covered. Flip over so the seal is facing the surface then roll until the currants are beginning to show through the pastry. Place on a lined baking tray.
  • Once all of the pastry has been used, brush all the cakes with beaten egg then bake for 10-15 at 200Ā°c until golden.

23 thoughts on “Chorley Cakes”

  • Thanks for posting this so quickly. After seeing your picture this afternoon I’m going to have to make some, its years since I’ve had a Chorley Cake. I also grew up on the Merseyside/Lancashire borders though I doubt at the same time as you ;)

  • Obviously I have never heard of Chorley cakes but they are awfully cute! And that filling wrapped in dough sounds delicious! A great snack food – or for eating walking down the street.

  • Wonderful recipe, I was struggling to find one too! I veganised mine, so they turned out a lot paler, but they’re just like I remembered.
    I used twice as much fruit in the filling, though, because it didn’t seem right. Is it normal to have a lot of fat compared to fruit?

    • Hi Tor, the butter helps to keep the filling moist, but I understand what you mean. I usually don’t weigh the currents. I’ll have to check the recipe again soon.

      • Mine were a little dry pastry-wise but I’m used to them being like that, so perhaps that’s where the difference shows; I used sultanas and raisins 50-50 in my filling and they were really plump and lovely. I’ll give the recipe another go soon, I don’t usually work with pastry so I may have been a little overly cautious! They were delicious either way. :)

  • Thank you!!! In 1980 I was an American in Paris and encountered Chorley Cakes at the Marks & Spencers by the Opera. Ever since then I have tried to find them, or a recipe for them, and no one has ever heard of them. I’m going to try making them!!!

  • i love chorley cakes always shop bought so i gave your recipe a try, followed it to a T but seems to be more pastry than filling, where did i go wrong?

    • Hi Michelle, I’m going to have a look at this recipe again because you are the second person to mention this. I will weigh the currants again as to be honext I usually just add a generous handful without weighing it.

    • Hi Jo, the can be eaten cold or slightly warmed. They don’t need butter with them. Some people eat them with a small amount of crumbly Lancashire cheese. I like them with a cup of tea.

  • Chorley cakes are a UK think and are made in Lancashire in the north west of the Britain, I recommend these with butter spread on top with a cup of tea.

    • Better with the butter on the underneath ( hollow side ) that war it doesnt slide off if they are warmed up slightly.

  • Brilliant! I stumbled on your blog looking for a Chorley cake recipe. You have made my day by mentioning sad cake! I grew up in East Lands and our local baker made sad cake.
    I have had difficulty finding any mention of sad cake on the web.
    I’m off to make Chorley cakes.

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