A very vintage holiday: Welsh pork cake
December 14th, 2010
03:15 AM ET
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I collect vintage cookbooks and product pamphlets. The holidays seem like an appropriate time to inflict some of the more, uh, festive recipes upon the masses. Holly to the jolly, y'all.

Today, in 'A Treasury of Holiday Ideas from Near and Far,' distributed by the New York State Electrical and Gas Corporation, we mine a recipe for Welsh Pork Cake. It involves pork sausage, raisins, nuts, candied cherries and cream cheese frosting - seemingly on purpose. In the desserts section. Hence the "taste surprise."

Its cultural antecedent appears to be Teisen Bork - indeed a traditional Welsh dish of pork, fruit and nuts baked with flour and water - but it is not particularly associated with the Yuletide, so far as I can ascertain with my rudimentary Cymraeg. Then again, all I can really say with any confidence is "Good morning." "Good evening." "Oh look - a magnificent dragon!" and "Leeks are once again on sale at the Tesco over in Porthmadog," so I'm really not much help.

Still, meat-based cakes are hardly unheard of. Born of wartime or winter privation, these deadweight, eggless, unlovely slabs brought a measure of cheer to, say, a miner, farmer or ice fisherman in need of a solid rib stick and a hug from home. Wrapped in booze-soaked cheesecloth and periodically touched up with brandy or whiskey, the cake has a shockingly long fridge or freezer life.

Hence, all this stout-hearted kitchen practicality has me wondering what in the name of Rhys Ifans were these whackadoodles* at New York State Electrical and Gas Corporation doing getting all schmancy with green candied cherries and cream cheese frosting at the holidays.

Here's the recipe. Make and discuss.

welsh pork cake

The Welsh have hardly cornered the market on pork-based cakes. Here's a coffee-amped rendition I ran across in the 1959 printing of 'Be Milwaukee's Guest, Recipes Collected and Tested by the Junior League of Milwaukee.' Wisconsinites, it seems, are not afraid to admit that their culinary flag flaps a little freakily, studding the recipe's headnote with references to its idiosyncratic flavor.

sausage cake

* The head whackadoodle at the New York State Electrical and Gas Corporation, it would seem.


Tomorrow - aw crap, it's mincemeat

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soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. Mildred

    I know this post is a blast from the past (having been originally posted two years ago), but I did some looking around and Teisen Borc (Welsh Pork Cake) is really a traditional dish... just without the cream cheese frosting.

    December 26, 2012 at 12:35 pm |
  2. frank

    Might be a dumb question, but sausage comes in a range of forms that have to be prepared differently. Are we talking precooked ground sausage?

    December 16, 2010 at 8:43 am |
  3. Bill

    I'd eat it, but I'll eat anything. Seriously though, might be really good. You guys ever put maple syrup on your sausage links? Kinda goes along the same lines...

    December 15, 2010 at 10:51 am |
  4. ;ules

    This reminds me of the chess pies my grandmother would make at the holidays. She used suet,venison,pork, raisins,dates,spices,rum etc. Everyone loved them until they found out what was in them. They were actually pretty good.

    December 15, 2010 at 12:47 am |
  5. Simon and Gar Farkel

    It does come across with some similarities to fruitcake (which I hate) – although I definitely like pork and pork sausage – but this one sure sounds like a gut bomb

    December 14, 2010 at 8:26 pm |
  6. David Thompson

    My family has been making pork cake for generations. It is really quite tasty.

    December 14, 2010 at 4:02 pm |
  7. Brandi

    Oh come on! You big bunch of sissies!!!!! Yes it sounds wierd to say the least but leaving off the frosting and soaking it in a Bourbon laced cheese cloth might hold some promise. Besides, my husband said if no one likes it, he and the dog will eat it! So come on folks, what have ya got to loose, except maybe the dog! LOL

    December 14, 2010 at 3:38 pm |
  8. Marc

    This is also an old German dish. My receipe is from my Amish and Mennonite forebearers. We treasure it. My mother would make it in late September or October when my uncle butchered the hogs and then put it in the Spring House (refrigerator) and every week would soak the cheese cloth in rum – by Thanksgiving and Christmas it was a great treat. Remember you can experiment with different sausage receipes. German, Dutch, Amish sausage receipes differ giving the cake slightly different tastes depending on the sausage. You can also make your own sausage. As for the dried frut substitue freely – I've used dried cranberries and blueberries as well as cherries – all have worked well. Also walnuts, butternuts, pecans work well if you have a preference for nuts.

    December 14, 2010 at 1:54 pm |
  9. Jay Cohen

    What a bunch of whiners or wieners. This is def worth trying and it sounds good. I'm making next few weeks.

    December 14, 2010 at 1:08 pm |
  10. JimK

    Have none of you ever had Plum Pudding/Suet Pudding. The only real difference with this is that this has meat and not just the fat.

    December 14, 2010 at 12:02 pm |
  11. Jdizzle McHammerpants

    This has given me insight in how to perfect my chicken kidney and lime muffins.

    December 14, 2010 at 11:50 am |
    • MariainDallas

      That made me laugh out loud!

      December 14, 2010 at 3:36 pm |
  12. IanC

    Generic English port sausage tends to be devoid of anything other than lard and breadcumbs – so this recipe might tend toward a simple fruit and nut cake. I seem to remember that a few years ago the EU wanted to reserve the name pork sausage for the upscale offerings and call the rest edible offal tubes.
    Still, as a long time ex-patriot, I still have a craving for traditional English sausage (and pork pies followed by a couple of pints of Bitter beer)

    December 14, 2010 at 11:30 am |
  13. marsha17

    I've eaten the Sausage Cake! Delicious, just like spice cake! YUMM!!

    December 14, 2010 at 11:12 am |
  14. spara

    I don't think I'd ever want to try this and I am Welsh!

    December 14, 2010 at 11:01 am |
  15. Person

    Wow... that is weird... I don't think I'll try it...

    December 14, 2010 at 10:27 am |
  16. Georgia Peach

    I love sausage, and I love cake, but I'm not so sure about combining the two!

    December 14, 2010 at 10:17 am |
    • RichardHead@GP

      Oh,I see how you are now. Don't even come over to the Lounge and say HI!

      December 14, 2010 at 10:20 am |
      • Georgia Peach@RH

        So sorry! When I saw pork cake, I was so intrigued I had to check it out first!

        December 14, 2010 at 10:32 am |
    • Person

      I agree with you, this is VERY weird.

      December 14, 2010 at 10:29 am |
  17. Cole

    I was very curious upon seeing the headline and that carried over to reading the recipe. Then I thought, "Wait. Dried fruit, nuts, candied fruit... Isn't this pretty much fruitcake (substituting sausage for alcohol)?" Bit of a letdown. On the other hand, it did bring up weird ideas of making it more porky. Wondering if sausage, bacon, apples, corn bread and collards could be combined into a respectable baked dish.

    December 14, 2010 at 8:49 am |
    • Jerv@Cole

      My exact thought too when I read this earlier this morning. Fruitcake. Let us know how it goes if you decide to brave this recipe.

      December 14, 2010 at 8:55 am |
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