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Catholic Recipe: God Cakes


  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup currants
  • 1/3 cup lemon peel
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice
  • puff paste or pie dough


Prep Time: 2 hours

Difficulty: • •

Cost: $$$$

For Ages:11+

Origin: England


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Also Called: Pope Ladies

In England the celebration has always been elaborate and various cakes were made especially for New Year's Day. First among them came the seed cake, but the "god cakes" of Coventry were also very popular. These last were of all sizes, some so small they sold for a penny and some so large they sold for a pound, and they were not really cakes at all, but a sort of tart with a filling and cut in a triangle. At St. Albans cakes were made in the form of a woman and were called locally "pope ladies," but neither legend nor history tell why.

The triangle shape is a reminder of the Trinity, which would make them appropriate for Trinity Sunday.


Mix the butter and sugar thoroughly, and add the currants, lemon peel, and spices. Heat in a double boiler for a few minutes and then allow the filling to cool before using. Make a puff paste (or use your richest pie dough) and roll out 1/4 inch thick and cut into 3-inch squares. Place a teaspoon of the filling in one corner of each square. Moisten the edges of the pastry and fold over from corner to corner to make a triangle; seal the edges with a fork. Bake at 450° F for 10 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350° F and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until brown.

Recipe Source: Feast Day Cookbook by Katherine Burton and Helmut Ripperger, David McKay Company, Inc., New York, 1951