Wet Nelly Cake Recipe: A British Classic

Wet Nelly Cake Recipe: A British Classic

After World War II, Liverpool was devastated by bombing raids and poverty, leading to food rationing – meaning people had to make do with what resources were available – thus Wet Nelly came into being. This cake is inspired by a Nelson cake, a traditional Lancashire fruit cake that according to Speke Hall began life as a bun loaf.

As its name implies, Wet Nelly is a version of bread pudding. This dessert combines different types of bread (soft or stale), custard, dried fruits, eggs and spices before being baked until set. There are numerous variations to Wet Nelly; from Mexico’s Capirotada to Cuba’s Pudin – there’s so many possibilities when it comes to Wet Nelly!

The Wet Nelly was designed after the Nelson cake, a popular Lancashire fruitcake. As poverty and food rationing became widespread after World War II, wedding cakes became too costly and so Wet Nellys were created as cheaper wedding cake alternatives.

Making bread and butter pudding requires using stale bread (preferably the least expensive type) soaked in treacle, then baked. It differs significantly from its counterpart found on restaurant or cafe menus in that its sweetness makes up for any potential lack of butteriness or fruit.

This cake requires only minimal ingredients to create

When cooked, its moist, soft texture will make it ideal for cutting into slices and enjoying with some creamy custard on top. Best served while still slightly warm so the bread can absorb all of its rich goodness!

Start by prepping the bread. Remove its crust, cut into large cubes, and soak for at least four hours or overnight in milk – this helps achieve your desired level of stodge! Next, preheat your oven to 180ºC and line an oblong roasting tin with parchment.

Once the bread has had time to soak, combine suet, sugar spice mixture and mixed fruit in with it. Spoon the batter into your prepared tin and bake for approximately 1 hour 15 minutes or until the top has turned golden brown. Cool before topping with warm custard.

Wet Nelly is not only delicious, it is also an integral piece of Liverpool history. First popularised after World War 2, when food shortages forced families to make do with what was available. Crafted using compressed pastry remnants and stale bun loaf, Wet Nelly became a cheaper wedding cake alternative that has since been fondly remembered by generations of Liverpool people – even today those who remember its original creation fondly recall its flavor!

Wet Nelly is an irresistibly delicious bread pudding, popular in several countries worldwide. You’ll find variations with both sweet and savory elements; from England’s Wet Nelly to Schwarzbrotpudding in Germany.

This recipe for no-bake dessert requires just three simple ingredients and a six inch casserole or cake dish to create something truly delectable!

For optimal results, use stale or dried bread that has been around for a few days – this helps it retain its shape when mixed with custard. Furthermore, toast the bread beforehand for added flavor and a crunchy texture.

While your bread is toasting, begin making the custard

In a large bowl, use an electric hand mixer or 3-4 minutes by hand to whip the butter until it becomes even and fluffy; this should take roughly one minute with an electric hand mixer or three to four minutes by hand. Gradually add milk, cream, sugar, vanilla, and eggs one at a time until thoroughly mixed – repeat this process a couple more times for best results!

Once your bread is toasted, combine everything. Feel free to add any of your desired add-ins now or serve while still warm – this makes a delicious dessert perfect for parties or just plain enjoyment on an idle day! It tastes especially delicious with some creamy ice-cream or freshly made custard as an addition.

Bread pudding is a popular dessert choice worldwide and comes in both sweet and savory versions. Often enjoyed warm with custard, many recipes call for it to be finished off with either nutmeg, cinnamon or whiskey sauce; or perhaps with tart lemon slices or an irresistibly fruity guava marmalade as toppings!

Wet Nelly Cake Recipe: A British Classic


  • Plain Flour: 225g
  • Caster Sugar: 175g
  • Butter: 175g
  • Eggs: 2, beaten
  • Mixed Dried Fruit: 175g
  • Milk: 150ml
  • Ground Mixed Spice: 1 teaspoon
  • Baking Powder: 1 teaspoon
  • Demerara Sugar: For sprinkling


  1. Preparation: Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan). Grease and line an 8-inch round cake tin.
  2. Mix Dry Ingredients: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, caster sugar, mixed spice, and baking powder.
  3. Add Butter: Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
  4. Add Fruits: Stir in the dried mixed fruit.
  5. Combine Wet Ingredients: In a separate bowl, mix together the beaten eggs and milk.
  6. Combine Mixtures: Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and stir well until combined into a thick batter.
  7. Bake: Transfer the batter into the prepared cake tin, smoothing the surface. Sprinkle the top with demerara sugar.
  8. Into the Oven: Place the tin in the preheated oven and bake for 45-50 minutes, or until the cake is golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
  9. Cooling: Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Serve: Slice and serve your moist and flavourful Wet Nelly Cake with a cup of tea or coffee for a delightful British teatime treat!

Cooking Tips:

  • Fruit Variations: Feel free to use your preferred mix of dried fruits like raisins, currants, sultanas, or candied peel.
  • Adding a Twist: Add a dash of brandy or rum to the dried fruit for an extra kick of flavour.
  • Storage: Keep the cake in an airtight container for up to a week for the best taste.

Wet Nelly Cake, a traditional British delicacy, delights with its moist and fruity taste. This easy-to-make cake brings the warmth and comfort of British home baking to any occasion, making it a beloved favourite for generations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *