How to make Pilgrims "Cuthbert Cake"

How to make Pilgrims "Cuthbert Cake"

“It’s kind of like a flapjack” is about the closest we’ve come in the last 14 years to eloquently describe our Cuthbert Cake. And it kind of is a flapjack - but it’s also so much more!

Fortunately, it sells itself in looks alone. Crammed full of fruits (rumoured to have been inspired by the gorgeous colours of the Lindisfarne Gospels), nuts and spices, this hearty slab of oaty goodness really hits the spot. Given the namesake of St. Cuthbert himself - we like to think that if ovens existed in 635AD, this would have been top of the menu. 

For years, this recipe was a closely guarded secret, before featuring in Vicky’s cookbook, “A Taste of Holy Island”. Now, after more requests than we can count, we’re sharing our recipe along with a couple of tweaks and some of Vicky’s pro top tips for ultimate Cuthbert Cake perfection. 

Serves 12 (ve, gf is using certified oats)

Preparation Time: 20 Minutes

Bake Time: 20 - 30 Minutes


500g Porridge Oats (these are more absorbent and make for a more structured cake)

250ml Vegetable Oil

250g Golden Syrup

100g Light Brown Sugar (Optional)

1 Lemon - Zested and Juiced

1 Orange - Zested and Juiced

250g Desiccated Coconut

125g Flaked Almonds

125g Pistachios (whizzed into small pieces)

2 Teaspoons Ground Cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg

1 Tablespoon Caraway Seeds

125g Raisins

125g Dried Cranberries

1 Mashed Banana (80 - 100g)


80ml Lemon Juice (2-3 Lemons)

500g Icing Sugar

Finishing touches

A sprinkle of Cranberry Powder

A sprinkle of whizzed pistachios


TOP TIP: Traditionalists may want to stay true to the Pilgrims way, but we would also urge you to experiment and make this cake your own. Swap the nuts and dried fruit for your own favourites. Honey makes a delightful replacement to the golden syrup if you prefer and forgo the icing for a refined-sugar free version.


  • Preheat your oven to 180c/160c fan
  • Line a 20 x 30cm baking tray with greaseproof paper
  • In a large bowl, mix together the oats, desiccated coconut, oil, sugar (if using) golden syrup and lemon/orange juice and zest 

TOP TIP: If you have access to a stand mixer, leave the ingredients to mix for 2-3 minutes so that the oats fully absorb the liquid. If using a wooden spoon mix, then let the mixture sit for a couple of minutes before mixing again. 

  •          4. Add the coconut, both nuts, spices, dried fruit and banana and then mix again. 
  • Empty the mixture into the baking tray, distributing evenly

TOP TIP: Using either the back of your spoon, or your hands if you don’t mind getting sticky, press the mixture down so that it’s really compact

  • Bake for 20 - 30 minutes until golden brown
  • While your cake is in the oven, prepare your icing by sieving the icing sugar into the bowl and then whisking in the lemon juice

TOP TIP: If you want to achieve a glossy finish, add a dash of water to the mixture

  • When the cake is baked, ice it immediately. Spoon over the icing and then, using your oven gloves, gently tip the tray in either direction to cover the cake. 
  • Add your finishing touches and then leave on a cooling rack until cold

TOP TIP: The icing will settle very quickly so if you’d like your finishing touches to stick to the icing, add them quickly! In the cafe, we use whizzed pistachios and powdered cranberries. However, toasted coconut flaked almonds, lemon zest or slices of candied peel would also work well. Alternatively you can leave the toppings - the cake tastes delicious without!


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