Bean cakes

These little nutty macaroon-like bites are both delicious and visually unusual. The name is thought to derive from the same root as the term 'banns' and were perhaps eaten to celebrate an announcement of marriage. As well as having a sprinkling of coloured comfits, they also sometimes had gold applied to them to create a truly stunning finish.

Cakes and bakes
Bean Cakes
  • Preparation time 10 minutes (prep. time)
  • Cooking time 15 minutes (cooking time)
  • Serves 8


  • Egg white
  • Icing sugar 225g (8oz)
  • Blanched almonds 225g (8oz)
  • Rosewater ½ tsp
  • Edible rice paper 4 sheets 
  • A handful of seeds such as caraway, coriander or comfits



  • Preheat oven to 160°C.
  • Whisk the egg white until it has soft peaks then fold in the icing sugar.
  • Chop the nuts and fold them into the mixture.
  • Add the rosewater and mix well.
  • Place the rice paper on baking sheets and add the mixture in ½-teaspoon-sized heaps, leaving a 2” gap between.
  • Sprinkle each bean cake with a few seeds or comfits.
  • Bake at 160°C, checking after 15 minutes.
  • To make bean cakes look as white as snow, follow these instructions from the book:

"Take two eggs, beat them to a froth with a little Rosewater, then put in a pound of sugar searced and beat it till it looke as white as snow and it will drop like Puffs and not fall, put in a little Musk and Ambergreece, then take a pound of Almonds blanched in cold watter and cutt of the ends of them, and cutt them in thin round or long slices put them into this sugar stuffe and stir them well together, then drop them upon waffers, and with the point of a knife place the Almonds as Edge wise as you can. Sit them in an Oven lightly heated, let them stand a quarter of an hour; If you please you may strow Caraway, Coraind, or like coulered Comfits on them when you put them in the Oven".