Jam Drops and Marble Cake

Judging at the very first Land Cookery competition - 1949

Judging at the very first Land Cookery competition – 1949

What does everyone think of when they hear CWA? Surely, not just Tea and Scones! Although  a cup of tea and a tasty treat are indeed a long standing tradition of the Association  and have been used very effectively not just to sit and chat over, but to attract attention, entice people to join and as always to fundraise. Tea and scones have carried us a long way!

In 1949 the Association, in conjunction with the Land Newspaper, started The Land Cookery Contest as a means to raise funds for the Seaside Homes Appeal (respite services for people in the country to visit the ocean). In the first year alone they raised the astonishing amount of almost £1000 and created a celebration of culinary skills during a period where cooking was seen only as a necessary skill to feed the hungry hordes around you.

The Land Cookery Contest today has women, children and even the odd man (!) competing in different categories at branch, group then state level. Each year a schedule of these competition categories is released and in the early days of the competition you could simply use your own favourite recipe and tin to enter with, life used to be so much simpler… Over time recipes were provided and strict rules adhered to about which pan or tin was allowed and to how they are to be judged.

The Land Cookery Contest is still running today and it is not just for members, or adults. You and/or your children can also compete!  If you think you’re a dab hand in the kitchen and would like to test your skills against the best…see the schedule here and find your local branch here. If your skills are somewhat short of what you would like, they’ll help you bring them up to prize winning standard!

Some recipes have remained on the schedule for years with no alteration to ingredients or cooking style. Over the last 60 years we have compiled these award winning recipes and only last year released them in ‘Jam Drops and Marble Cakes’ (available here for any bakers with a love of history, tradition and who want the winning recipes, or those, like me, who just don’t have enough cook books!). While you’re waiting for it to arrive you can practise on a title recipe, one of my favourites – the marble cake.

It goes just as well with that cup of tea! YUM!

MARBLE CAKE                                                                                                      

First Judged in 1977 – makes 1 x 20cm round cake


220g butter, softened                              150g self-raising flour, well sifted

220g caster sugar                                     185 ml milk at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla essence                     1 tablespoon cocoa powder

3 eggs                                                          Pink food colouring

150g plain flour, well sifted                      Pale pink icing, to serve

1. Preheat oven to moderate (180°C/350°F/Gas 4). Grease a deep 20 cm round cake tin and line base with baking paper.

2. Cream butter and sugar very well, add vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Fold in the well sifted flours alternately with the milk.

3. Divide the mixture into three equal parts. Leave one part natural, colour one pink and use the cocoa mix with a little hot water to colour the chocolate portion. Place alternate spoonfuls of the different mixtures into the prepared tin. Lightly tap tin on bench and run a knife through the mixture to give the marble effect.

4. Bake for around 50 minutes. When cold, ice with your favourite icing recipes in pale pink.

HINT: Nelleke Gorton a member of the State Land Cookery Committee has told me that to get the best marbled effect you use the blunt end of a wooden chopstick to make a figure 8 in the batter – then give a 1/2 turn of the cake tin and repeat a second figure 8. Don’t be tempted to go wild!

unbaked marble cake (2)

Marble Cake