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Melrose cakes

by Noellen Newton

If you want a successful batch of small cakes when you cook then this is the recipe for you! I have cooked these cakes three times – once in small loaf tins – and they always turn out very well. This week I made patty cakes, which are very easy to make and are quite delicious without icing.

I think that these cakes would be ideal to turn into butterfly cakes. Let us know if you have any other ideas for decorating them.

Melrose cakes recipe

Ingredients: ½lb butter, 1 cup soft sugar (creamed together), 5 eggs, 3 cups flour, 1½ teaspoons cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon carbonate of soda, ½ pint milk (dissolve soda in milk), flavour with lemon.

Mode: Bake in small tins in a quick oven.

Source: Home Cookery for Australia: All Tested Recipes, 1913, Arbuckle, Waddell & Fawckner, Melbourne, p. 129.

My method for cooking Melrose cakes

Here's my list of ingredients and method for cooking the Melrose cakes. Ingredients: 250g butter, 1 cup sugar, 5 x 60g eggs, 3 cups plain flour, 1½ teaspoons cream of tartar, 1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda, 300ml milk, lemon essence.

Method: Preheat oven to 180 degrees (fan-forced). Prepare muffin/patty cake tins by greasing and flouring, or use paper cases. Cream the butter and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time and beat well after each egg is added. Mix in a few drops of lemon essence.

Sift the cream of tartar and flour together. Mix the bicarb of soda into the milk. Add the flour and the milk alternately to the butter/sugar/egg mixture and mix well.

Place a heaped dessertspoonful of the cake mix into each of the paper cases and cook for approximately 20 to 30 minutes depending on the size of the cakes you are making. This mixture made 30 delicious patty cakes.

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17 Apr 2013 11:43am

I had the privilege of tasting many of these recipes when I worked at the Museum, on the 1913 exhibition and with its wonderfully enthusiastic librarians, Noellen and Naomi. It would be hard to prefer one recipe over another, but the Melrose cakes were superb. Quite the most delicious 'research' I've ever contributed to. Thank you for showing us this aspect of life in Australia in 1913! 

20 Apr 2013 12:29am

Noellen, is there any indication in the book as to what the name means? I'm curious about the 'Melrose'! 

Noellen - Mixing Bowl
20 Apr 2013 9:08am

Interesting question Isa - there is no explanation in the cookbook. I was hoping to find a connection between these cakes and perhaps the heroic deeds of a dashing Mr Melrose who had to survive on these cakes alone for a month or so...
It appears however that Melrose is of Scottish origin deriving from the town of Melrose. Several towns in Australia are also named Melrose so I think these cakes may have been a favourite recipe in one of these locations. They're certainly a favourite of mine! 

13 Jun 2013 11:38am

Fantastic recipe, I can't stop eating these little things.

The NFSA thanks you for our delicious morning tea. om nom nom 

Noellen - Mixing Bowl
13 Jun 2013 12:23pm

We are glad that you enjoyed your morning tea. I should have cooked more for you by the sounds of it! 

Glorious Days: Australia 1913 was on show at the National Museum of Australia from 7 March to 13 October 2013.

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