Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Holiday Nostalgia: A Recipe for Bishop's Cake

       A recipe is the last thing you'd expect to find on one of my blogs, but something got me to thinking about eatables I used to make (I never cook or bake these days), and I remembered Bishop's Cake, and I thought, gee, if I'm never going to make it again, I ought to share this on my blog so other people could enjoy it this holiday season and in the future.
       It isn't a recipe that comes from my grandmother or  farther back in family history.  In fact, I got it from somebody I worked with in the 1960's.  But then that's ancient history for a lot of the people reading this!  It's a fruit cake, but don't let that name put you off!  It's not the type of fruitcake that you would ever take to the Manitou Springs Fruitcake Toss after Christmas and chuck down the field with a catapult!  It's scrumptious!  It has none of the coarse, sour, bitter stuff like candied citrus peel or citron or even candied pineapple.  And I don't know why it's called Bishop's Cake -- that's just the name my friend gave it.  It's definitely fit for a bishop, or a king!
Bishop's Cake
Mix together:
3 eggs, well beaten
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 cups chopped walnuts
1 cup candied cherries (as I recall, I left them whole.  You could use red and green mixed for extra  color)
1 cup chopped dates (add gradually for even mixing.  I used the pre-chopped, sugared date bits because I'm lazy.  They are a little drier than the whole dates.)
Combine and sift over this mixture:
1 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Mix well.  Add a small amount of water if the batter is too dry to hold togther.
Line a loaf pan (I forget the dimensions -- 4x8? 5x9? -- just the regular size) with wax paper and spoon the batter into it.  I always decorated it with a row of walnut halves down the middle and rows of cherry halves on each side.)
Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/2 hours.  Cool in pan, then lift out with the waxed paper and peel it off the bottom.  The cake is compact, so you don't have to worry about having it fall apart.
Ooh, it's delicious -- my mouth is watering!  I mean, what could go wrong with the combination of chocolate chips, cherries, nuts, and dates?
Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!  And happy holiday eating!


  1. Hopefully one of these days, this recipe would make it to my kitchen.
    Second thought, can you just make it for us and ship it over? :-)

    1. Well, Angela, keep a copy, 'cause it's delicious! It would be good served at a New Year's party, too.
      I can't bake these days because of the arthritis in my hands - can't stir such stiff dough.

  2. That sounds rather nice. You got me thinking with the name, so I did a bit of a Google search to see if I could find out out why it's called Bishop's Cake (I like to find out the origins of things!). There seem to be two different explanations floating around (probably more if I'd spent longer!). One is that it is an old recipe which was much fancier than ordinary people could usually afford to make, so it would only be made when the local Bishop came to visit (one variation on that one said that it was based on an old Slovakian recipe called Bishop's bread which was made when the Bishop visited). The other explanation is simply that because of the big whole cherries and nuts in it, when it is cut it looks like a stained glass window.

    1. Thanks, Vanessa! "Bishop's cake" was just what my co-worker called it, and I never bothered to research it. Both explanations sound plausible (the chocolate chips would have to be a later addition!) but personally I like the stained-glass window one! It does look like that when you cut it, especially if you use both red and green cherries. I hope you try the recipe sometime - it's really tasty! Do you make plum pudding? I associate that with the British!

    2. I'm afraid I tend to buy my Christmas puddings and suchlike rather than make. I make a few things from scratch but not as much as I would like to if I had more time.

    3. I think the traditional steamed pudding is a lot harder and more time-consuming to make. I think my grandmother used to make it - it was called suet pudding - actually had suet in it. She had roots from England (her birth name was Munday), and the Isle of Man, too (the name was Killy). She'd steam the pudding in a coffee can, I think (or some kind of can). She never made it during my lifetime, only back in the 1910's when my mother was a child.

    4. I believe the name Bishop's Cake goes back to Colonial day's when the bishop made his holiday visits on horseback and on a very uncertain schedule. This recipe has wonderful lasting qualities and is quite tasty. It could be made ahead and kept on hand to serve with tea when the bishop unexpectedly arrived.

    5. Sounds likely! I've had quite a few page views on this recipe lately, and I hope somebody tries making the cake for Christmas because it really is scrumptious! Thanks for commenting

  3. Hi Lorinda, My paternal Grandmother made a Christmas cake that sounds much like the one featured in your recipe--only she called it St. Nick's loaf. And yes, it was delicious.

    Here's wishing you a most enjoyable Thanksgiving!


    1. You'll have to get Raymond to try making it! It's really easy, except for being difficult to stir for people with arthritis!
      Would you please check your Facebook messages? I left one there for you.

  4. Lorinda
    I make Bishop's Cake every Christmas and the recipe is the same as yours. I received this recipe from my maternal grandmother who told me that this was a recipe she made when butter was rationed during World War II. When I served it this year, friends asked the origin of the name Bishop's Cake which is how I came across your blog. I'll be serving this again today at my holiday party!