Scottish Sultana Loaf Cake Recipe

This simple Sultana Loaf Cake is such a great one to make when you want a little treat or something to give to guests.

It’s a classic Sultana Tea Loaf, which means it’s perfect for afternoon tea! We’ve been lucky to enjoy it many times when visiting relatives for just that.

You might see other Sultana Loaf recipes where the cake is a darker brown colour, more like banana bread, but this is a classic Scottish Sultana Cake, so it uses just a few ingredients to make a basic sponge-like cake, filled with sultanas.

We can’t find any particular history associated with this Sultana Loaf Cake, only that it is of Scottish origin and often served at tea time. That alone was enough for us to give it a go!

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How to Make Sultana Loaf Cake Pin

We did a lot of testing on this one to make sure that we got it just right. There were quite a lot of traditional Sultana Loaf recipes out there, so we gave most of them a go, including a cherished family recipe, and made some tweaks to create this one.

The result is a light sponge bursting with sultanas throughout. You can slice it like bread and have it on its own or even with a little spread of butter or jam. That’s just what we like, though; definitely not a traditional thing!

This is a simple but tasty loaf recipe, as is our Golden Syrup Loaf, but if you want a more deliciously decadent cake, then definitely check out our Sticky Toffee Pudding Traybake.

Sultana Loaf Recipe sliced on a chopping board

Things You’ll Need to Make Sultana Loaf

  • Loaf tin (approx 2lb size) – we love this tin
  • We like to use loaf tin liners to make it easy to get the cake out after baking
  • Baking scales are useful for this recipe to get the amounts right. They’re a great investment if you intend to do a lot of baking because measuring by weight is much more accurate than cups. We have some similar to these.

Ingredients for Sultana Loaf

  • 130g unsalted butter (4.5oz)
  • 130g caster sugar (2/3 of a cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g sultanas (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 200g self-raising flour (about 1.5 cups)
  • 2 tbsp milk
Sultana Cake Recipe sliced on a plate

How to Make Sultana Loaf Cake – Step by step method

This cake is easy to make, but it’s important to get the measurements right, or it can turn out a little crumbly.

The best way to do this is to use scales (you can buy them fairly cheaply here), but we have given the approximate cup measurements just in case.

Start by preheating the oven to 160C conventional oven or 140C Fan (which is 320/285F).

Cream the butter and sugar together until it turns a lighter colour.

Beat the eggs separately and then add a little to the butter and sugar mixture, plus a little of the flour, adding a little flour helps it to not curdle. Then add the rest of the egg.

Fold in the remaining flour.

In another bowl, toss the sultanas in the tablespoon of plain flour. This helps them to not sink to the bottom of the cake during baking.

Fold the sultanas into the mixture.

The mixture should be thick rather than runny, but if it’s a little on the dry side you can add 1-2 tablespoons of milk to loosen it a little.

Tip the mixture into a greased loaf tin and smooth down the top.

Bake in the oven for approximately one hour, or until a skewer or knife pushed into the middle of the cake comes out clean.

The idea is to bake the Sultana cake at a lower temperature for a longer time so that it cooks and rises evenly.

And there you have it, a delicious Scottish Sultana Cake!

Sultana Loaf Cake on a plate with cup of tea and books

How do you store this Sultana Loaf?

To be honest, it disappears pretty quickly in our house! But if you do want to store it, it’ll be best in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Why is my cake crumbly?

This recipe can sometimes produce a crumbly cake that makes it harder to slice, although the taste is still there! We find it’s very sensitive to the type of flour used.

Our tips to avoid this are:

  • Don’t overmix the cake. Mix only until the ingredients are just combined.
  • If the mixture is really thick, add a couple of tablespoons of milk. It is meant to be a thick mixture rather than runny but not TOO thick so that it’ll be dry.
  • Keep a close eye on it while it’s baking as you want it just done, not overbaked at all.
Yield: 10

Sultana Loaf Cake Recipe

Sultana Loaf Cake Recipe

This Sultana Loaf Cake is based on a traditional Scottish Sultana Tea Loaf, made with a basic sponge filled with juicy sultanas. A Scottish cake best enjoyed with a cup of tea!

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 130g unsalted butter (4.5oz)
  • 130g caster sugar (2/3 of a cup)
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g sultanas (1 1/4 cups)
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • 200g self-raising flour (about 1.5 cups)
  • 2 tbsp milk

Instructions

  1. Turn the oven on to 160C conventional oven or 140C fan oven (320/285F)
  2. Start by creaming the butter and sugar together until it turns a lighter colour.
  3. Beat the eggs separately and then add a little to the butter and sugar mixture, plus a little of the flour, then the rest of the egg. Adding a little flour helps it to not curdle.
  4. Fold in the remaining flour.
  5. In another bowl, toss the sultanas in the tablespoon of plain flour. This helps them to not sink to the bottom of the cake during baking. Fold them into the mixture.
  6. The mixture should be thick rather than runny, but if it’s a little on the dry side you can add 1-2 tablespoons of milk to loosen it a little.
  7. Tip the mixture into a greased loaf tin and smooth down the top.
  8. Bake in the oven for approximately one hour, or until a skewer or knife pushed into the middle of the cake comes out clean. The idea is to bake the Sultana cake at a lower temperature for a longer time so that it cooks and rises evenly.

Notes

This cake is easy to make but it’s important to get the measurements right, or it can turn out a little crumbly. The best way to do this is to use scales (you can buy them fairly cheaply here), but we have given the approximate cup measurements just in case. 

Nutrition Information:

Yield:

10

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 293Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 4gCholesterol: 65mgSodium: 258mgCarbohydrates: 45gFiber: 1gSugar: 25gProtein: 4g

The nutritional data in this recipe is provided by a third party and these values are automatically calculated and offered for guidance only. Their accuracy is not guaranteed.

Other simple cakes to try:

Enjoy,

Phil & Sonja

10 thoughts on “Scottish Sultana Loaf Cake Recipe”

    • Hi Mary, this is tricky because to us a sultana is a sultana! 😂 However, after a quick google it turns out that may not be the case elsewhere. We found this explanation online, hope it helps.

      “In the US, sultanas are referred to as “golden raisins” or “sultana raisins.” These grapes are treated with a preservative called sulfur dioxide to retain the lighter colour of the grape. Sultanas are typically smaller than raisins and are sweeter, juicer and lighter in colour than both raisins and currants.”

      Reply
  1. Made this cake for years, came from an old cookbook of my grannies.
    A real favourite, sometimes I’ve made it as a tray bake. Whichever way doesn’t hang around long.😋

    Reply
  2. A good recipe. Very straightforward and very tasty. Just what I was looking for.
    Rather than using the sultanas dry I give them a few rinses in hot water from the tap and let them sit in the water on the final rinse for about 5 minutes. Then I let them drain in a colander for about half an hour. I find that adding the flour first and then the fruit is enough to get the sultanas evenly distributed during the folding in.
    Thanks for posting the recipe.

    Reply
    • What an excellent tip, we’ll be sure to try this next time we make our loaf. Thanks for this and your kind words. – Phil

      Reply
  3. Just made a couple of these baking in the oven as I write, following your recipes has never let me down and I am sure these will come out perfect also.

    Reply
  4. Could you please let me know if your tablespoon is a 15ml tablespoon or a 20 ml tablespoon. In Australia ours is 20ml but if yours is only 15ml then I would be putting an extra 10mls of milk in it which may affect the final outcome.

    Can’t wait to try this after I find out.

    Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Bev! We use 15ml tablespoons. Thanks for letting us know this! We are currently working on a conversion chart so we’ll be sure to add about the tablespoon size also. Hope you enjoy the Sultana Loaf Cake!

      Reply
  5. Made this for the first time yesterday, next bake I would cut the timing down for a fan oven and perhaps reduce the sugar slightly but a nice bake

    Reply

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