Bessie’s Valentine Cakes – A Victorian Recipe Poem, 1888

BESSIE’S VALENTINE CAKES.History of Valentine Cards | Old Fashioned Holidays

Fast as her little feet can go,

Comes tiny Bessie, her face aglow,

And with almost tears In her bonny eyes,

“Mamma, sweetest,” the darling cries,

“Nellie, Bell, May and Pauline—

Every one have a valentine;

And mamma, dearest, they all make fun

Because I want just a tiny one.

“And all of them say I am too small,

And will have to wait till I’m big and tall.

I can’t wait, mamma, and so please make

For your little Bessie a Valentine cake.

“Put in it raisins, citron and spice;

Make it sugary, sweet and nice.”

“I’ll see,” and mamma, bending, sips

Honey from the sweet red lips.

In the kitchen Bessie without a care

At the table sits in her tall ” high-chair,”

And eagerly watches while mamma makes

For her some wonderful “Valentine cakes.”

Perhaps some other mamma to-day

For another Bessie would know the way

To make these cakes, then listen to me,

While in rhyme I give you the recipe.


Take a pound and a half of flour so white.

Shake it and sift it till smooth and light,

Then make a hole where, well, you know,

A teaspoon of baking-powder must go.

*’ Sweets to the sweet,” or, to make it plain,

Take a pound of sugar, like frozen rain;

Sift this in, and make no mistake,

Then into the pan you must four eggs break.

Take a silver knife, and, with greatest care,

Stir it together till light as air.

Of butter at least three-fourths of a pound,

Then chop it and stir it round and round.

A handful of currants, some raisins nice,

Of citron, translucent as amber, a slice.

Now over this all you must slowly pour

Of milk just half a pint—no more.

Then stir it and knead it, so and so,

Till you make of the mixture a pretty stiff dough.

Roll it lightly—it can’t be tough—

An eighth of an inch will be thick enough.

Next step, you’ll see, is a work of art,

Each cake must be cut like a little heart.

Then into the oven—don’t let them burn,

But bake them all till done to a turn.

Next ice them over—don’t mind the cost,

Let each one look as if touched by Jack Frost.

Source: Good Housekeeping, 1888

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