Recipe Review

Downton Abbey Premiere Recipe: Kitchen Garden Cake

published Jan 4, 2012
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

The second series of “Downton Abbey” premieres this weekend on PBS and if you’re as obsessed as we are, you might be planning your very own viewing party complete with period-appropriate food and drink. Here’s an Edwardian-era cake that we highly recommend. It includes several ingredients you probably have in your winter larder … and don’t worry, it’s much better than Mrs. Patmore’s salty pudding!

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Our search for early 20th century dishes led us to this Kitchen Garden Cake from Great Britain’s National Trust. Reflected in the name, this cake includes a basketful of produce, including parsnip, carrot, potato, apple, and orange, plus a sprinkle of nutmeg.

The cake is quite dense, and one might at first question whether it’s worthy of serving to guests. But it’s also delectably moist and with each bite, as one lets go of any preconceived expectations of “cake,” it becomes more and more scrumptious. Rather than tasting particularly of parsnip, carrot, potato, or apple, it has a pleasantly sweet and somewhat nutty flavor. We topped it with a simple orange flower water icing (and edible flowers), which was a nice complement to the not overly sugary cake.

This historical recipe hails from the Midlands rather than the fictional Crawley family’s North Yorkshire, but it’s a fun cake to try and one that we’ll continue to make even after “Downton Abbey” is off the air.

Get the recipe: Kitchen Garden Cake at National Trust

• The recipe calls for margarine, caster sugar, and SR (self-raising or self-rising) flour; we used Kerrygold butter, superfine sugar, and substituted regular flour plus baking powder and salt
• It’s best to use a scale; if you don’t have one, try the conversion calculators at
• We used this recipe for Confectioners Sugar Icing, with 2 tsp. orange flower water mixed in


Craving Sherry? Blame Downton Abbey

(Images: Carnival Films; Gregory Han; Emily Ho)