Shakespeare Cake (adapted from Scripture Cake, Oklahoma 1970s)

The Scripture Cake, a simple spice cake with raisins and figs, was a fixture of mid-70s church cookbooks. The recipe itself was not particularly amazing; the novelty lies in having to crack open the Good Book to decipher the ingredients.  Instead of a list of ingredients there are cryptic references to Bible verses.  For example, “one cup of Nahum 3:12” draws the reader to the following passage:

All thy strong holds shall be like fig trees with the firstripe figs: if they be shaken, they shall even fall into the mouth of the eater.  (Nahum 3:12, King James Version)

The reader infers that the desired ingredient is “figs” and proceeds through the rest of the recipe. An awful lot of work for a spiced fruitcake.

This novelty recipe isn’t quite what it used to be, even among Christian congregations.   Since the Scripture Cake’s heyday in the 1960s and 1970s there has been an explosion of alternative translations.  While many of them are arguably more accurate translations, they also muck up the ingredient list.  For example, Judges 5:25 is code for “butter”, but a reader with a modern English translation may find “curds”, “yogurt”, or “curdled milk” instead.   It’s not a stellar recipe to begin with, and if you don’t know to rely on the King James Translation it just makes things worse.

There’s also the reality that America is decidedly less Christian than it was a generation ago, with a concomitant decrease in Biblical literacy.  And so, for those outside of the Judeo-Christian tradition or without any religious inclination, I present the Shakespeare cake.  The Complete Works of William Shakespeare are available in the public domain, and enumerated line by line for quick reference.  If tedious fetch quests are your idea of a good recipe, the Shakespeare Cake is for you.  Enjoy!

Tis an ill cook that cannot lick his own fingers

Romeo and Juliet [IV, 2, line 2501]

William Shakespeare, by William Blake (Public Domain)


Shakespeare Cake (adapted from Scripture Cake, Oklahoma 1970s)

  • Preparation: 15 min
  • Cooking: 45 min
  • Ready in: 1 h
  • For: 1 cake
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  1. Cream the Henry IV, Part I [II, iv line 1043] and the Henry IV, Part I [I, ii, line 1500]. Add the beaten As You Like It [II, v, line 831], Hamlet [III, i, line 1847], and Midsummer Night's Dream [V, i, line 2183].
  2. Sift together dry ingredients and add to this mixture.
  3. Fold in remaining ingredients, and add to a greased baking dish or Bundt pan. Bake 45 minutes at 350 F or until a toothpick inserted in the center is clean.

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