Nelson Square

Any old Army Cooks know how deep a Nelson Square should be?

Should the top pastry be iced or just dusted with sugar and water before baking.

I need to make a large batch for a Vets Reunion shortly.


Book Reviewer
Found this on Google:-

8 ozs white bread, crusts removed
1/2 pint milk
4 ozs currants, raisins
2 ozs mixed peel, finely chopped
2 ozs suet
2 ozs demarara sugar
1 to 2 level teaspoons mixed spice (allspice)
1 egg beaten
2 pastry sheets

Soak bread in milk for about 1/2 an hour and beat out lumps. Add dried fruit, peel, suet, sugar and spice. Mix well, add the egg and a little extra milk, if required.

Put mixture between 2 layers of pastry.

Bake in oven at 180 C (350F), Mark 4, for 1/2 to 2 hours.

Sprinkle with sugar before serving. The peel may be replaced by an extra 2 ozs dried fruit, if you prefer.
Joker's recipe looks right (not that I'd really know, but those ingredients should have been available in the early part of the 19th century). There's a few recipes on Google search. Otherwise, 'Lobscouse & Spotted Dog' by Grossman and Thomas doesn't feature it; the closest I can see would be 'Maids of Honour, or 'Savoy Biscuit', both similar in content, but very different in presentation, I think.


Not a Chef but them squares are no biggie. Bakers used to make cheap Nelsons to use up old scraps, cakes, bread and crumbs and they're probably WW2 concoctions. We had to eat the stuff covered in icing sugar in the 1960's, penny a cake. Ours were about an inch high or the thickness of a good sandwich. They can also be date squares or leftover Christmas pudding squares, and apple and cherry.

Nelsons, Waitrose recipe sort of
  • Preparation time:30 minutes
  • Cooking time:30 minutes or less, until cooked, plus cooling time
  • Total time 1 hour funnily enough
Makes: 12

  • 500g ready-made puff pastry or sweet short paste. 1 medium egg, beaten for brushing.
  • 300g old cake crumbs from a sponge, madeira cake or fruit cake, and some old bread.
  • 125g mixed dried fruit or other sweet filling/old Xmas cake if you don't fancy Nelsons.
  • 2 tspsns of ground mixed spice.
  • Caster sugar for dredging
  1. Line a baking tray 3-5 cms deep. The fruit will probably make the squares stick so it's best to line it.
  2. Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5.
  3. Roll out the pastry to a rectangle measuring about 28cm x 50cm. Cut into two sections so you have one square of around 28cm x 28cm and a rectangle of around 25cm x 20cm. Use the square to line the base of the baking tin - the pastry should come up the sides of the tin. Trim the rectangle to a square measuring 22cm x 22cm and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, mix the cake crumbs, dried fruit and spice. Stir in enough hot water (150ml-175ml) to create a stiff paste. Spread this evenly over the pastry in the tin, leaving a slight gap around the sides. Brush the edge of the pastry with some of the beaten egg. Cover with the reserved square of pastry, and pinch the edges together with the bottom layer of pastry, to form a complete crust so that the filling is enclosed. Brush the pastry with more beaten egg, then use a fork to prick holes in the top of the pastry.
  5. Bake for at least 25 minutes until golden and puffed up. Leave to cool in the tin, then turn out on to a rack and let cool.
  6. Dredge with caster sugar and cut into squares.
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