Buffalo Cake/Lemon Honey (1914) ★★★

I couldn't dig up much information on this oddly named cake. I found one modern blogger who has a very similar recipe. She labels it "retro" and says:
"This is a cake I remember fondly from my childhood. I have no idea where it came from, it’s a handwritten recipe in my mum’s recipe folder. Searching online brings no answers either!
It’s a simple sponge with a lemon & coconut icing. Resist eating it for a day or so if you can as it improves with age – it gets heavier and denser. I loved it when I was a child – my mum used to cut it into squares about 2″ x 2″." 
It seems that this blogger is from the United Kingdom. That shows an interesting link between what was eaten in New Zealand and what was eaten in the British Isles. 
On a completely different note, I also found a North American "Buffalo Cake" which has sour cream, nuts, and melted chocolate chips in it. Interesting!
I'm quite surprised by this cake, really. Considering the amount of eggs, butter, and sugar - not to mention fresh lemons! - it must have been very expensive to make, especially in wartime. That said, The Sure to Rise Cookery Book was originally published in 1908, so this is very likely a pre-war recipe. I wonder how much use it got in the coming years.

Original Recipe:

The Verdict:
I wasn't sure if "sponge sandwich tins" meant to just cook two layers, or if these are supposed to be mini cakes. I went with 2 large layers, just because the recipe is called "Buffalo Cake", singular. I used all purpose flour. The recipe was easy enough to follow, but I wish it had included milk in the ingredients list. The cake is okay - not spectacular, and quite plain on its own. With the filling and icing it was good, though.
The lemon honey (which is ironic, because there is no honey in it) didn't really thicken as much as I had hoped. I cooked it for a while, but it didn't get any thicker than runny honey (ha ha). It stayed inbetween the layers well enough, but it was still a little runnier than I would have preferred. Taste-wise it was good. There was also a ton of it left over, so the recipe should be halved, at least.
There was no recipe in the book for icing, so I just went with powdered sugar and lemon juice. Simple enough.
Mr. Man thought it was tasty, but too sugary. I feel like this was probably because of the icing. Overall, I don't think I'd make this again, just because of the effort in making the curd for just an average taste. I would eat it voluntarily, though, so it's not all bad. I just feel like I've made better historical and modern lemon cakes.

Modernized Recipe:
(Adapted from The Sure to Rise Cookery Book)

Buffalo Cake
3/4 cup SUGAR
1 1/4 cups FLOUR
2 teaspoons BAKING POWDER
MILK, to thin

Lemon Honey
1/2 pound SUGAR
2 LEMONS, juiced and zested

Lemon Icing

1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease and flour two sponge tins or cake pans.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Beat in the eggs. Add the flour and baking powder. Little by little, add enough milk to make a thin batter.
3. Evenly divide the batter among the two prepared pans. Bake for about 20 - 30 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
4. Meanwhile, make the lemon honey by mixing all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and cooking over low to medium heat until thickened.
5. When the cake and the lemon honey are cool, but together. Mix together enough powdered sugar and lemon juice to make an icing and spread over the top of the cake. Serve.

Anje graduated with a Honours Bachelors degree in History with a minor in Museum Studies. She currently lives and works in Japan's least populous prefecture as an assistant English teacher.


  1. Judging by your photos you used the correct cake tins. Sponge tins = Victoria sponge tins. Sized like a small dinner plate/luncheon plate.
    The lemon honey seems like lemon butter to me, but it is sometimes called lemon spread here. Is that lemon curd? My memory is that it is tricky to get right. Is honey a colloquial term for a sweet spread? I will definitely try this and experiment a little.

    1. As far as I know, the only difference between this lemon honey and lemon curd is that curd only uses the yolks of the eggs and tends to be thicker. It really is confusing trying to figure out all these different terms, eh?

  2. I have a recipe for Buffalo Cake which my Mum used to make years ago and the recipe is written on a scrap piece of paper. No-one in the family knows how she had the recipe or where it came from either. She used to just put the lemon sugar icing on top with coconut, yuumy.