Great Expectations; Miss Havisham’s Bride Cake

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Units Scale


  • 0.90kg / 2lb / 7 cups of fine flour
  • 550g /1.2lb butter
  • 350g / 0.77 lb / 1.5 cups white sugar
  • 200g / 0.44 lb almond meal
  • 100g / 0.22lb candied citron
  • 100g / 0.22lb candied orange and lemon peel
  • 900g / 2lb currants
  • 2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp mace
  • 1/4 tsp cloves
  • 6 eggs, separated (yolks and whites will be used)
  • 1 ounce / 30ml wine
  • 1 ounce / 30ml brandy

Almond Icing

  • 1 lb white sugar
  • 1 lb almond meal
  • 4 egg whites
  • splash of rose water

White Icing

  • 1 lb icing sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 30ml/ 1 oz cornstarch/ cornflour


Bride Cake

  1. Start by creaming the butter, before stirring in the white sugar.
  2. Whisk egg whites until frothy and mix them in.
  3. In another bowl, beat the egg yolks for several minutes (they say 10) and add in the flour, nutmeg, mace, and cloves.
  4. Combine them together and mix them together for half an hour ( this is where the arm strength comes in). I just used my mixer for about 10 minutes.
  5. Stir in the currants, almonds, candied peel, wine and brandy (I was taught to soak the nuts and fruit in the brandy beforehand, so that’s what I did out of habit).
  6. Butter a cake pan, or line it well with baking paper (best option), fill with cake batter and place in a medium heat oven.
  7. They say a quick oven, but I found it best to keep it at about 150oC/ 300F as it’ll be in there for a few hours.
  8. Once a knife is speared into the middle and comes out clean, it’s done.
  9. Set it aside to cool while you make the almond icing and white icing.

Almond Icing

  1. Start by mushing together almond meal and rose water to make a bit of a paste. Whisk together the egg whites until frothy, then stir in the almond meal, sugar and beat it well.
  2. Once the cake is cool, spread the almond icing on. I found the best way was by wetting my hands and smoothing it on that way. That way you’ll get it thin and perfectly smooth, which it needs to be before the white icing goes on. Once the top icing layer goes on, any flaws will show, so use the almond icing to fix them up now.
  3. Once the almond icing is completely covering the cake, place it in the oven to dry (I turned mine to ‘keep warm’ or 100C/ 210F) Keep the oven on 100C/ 210F.

White Icing

  1. This now has to be my favourite icing recipe ever. Goes on smooth, you just spread it, but dries hard. Start by beating the eggs until frothy, and gradually add in the icing sugar and cornstarch/ cornflour.
  2. Once the mixture is smooth of lumps, use a cake spatula to smear and smooth the icing evenly over the cake and almond icing.
  3. Turn the oven to keep warm or off, and place the cake into dry. Keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn’t turn any golden colour.
  4. To finish it off, make a bit more white icing and pipe floral or delicate edging. Why do we do this? To hide flaws of course!


all three recipes converted/modernised from The Book of Household Management, published in 1861