Yorkshire Recipes


Lovefeast Loaf

Here are three recipes for Lovefeast Loaves, but first here is some background information:

The Lovefeast was a form of religious assembly, where groups of worshipers came together to eat food and praise God. Although the origins are with Jesus and his of sharing bread with his disciples, it was the Moravians in Germany in the early part of the 18th century who established the practice as a way of bonding worshipers. This quickly spread to other Moravian groups world-wide.

John Wesley first encountered Lovefeasts among the Moravians in Savannah, Georgia, around 1737. His diary notes: ‘After evening prayers, we joined with the Germans in one of their love–feasts. It was begun and ended with thanksgiving and prayer, and celebrated in so decent and solemn a manner as a Christian of the apostolic age would have allowed to be worthy of Christ.’

In Yorkshire, Methodism became firmly established in the mid 18th century. Wesley was a regular visitor to the region and Methodist preachers soon gained a strong following. Meeting houses and chapels were established across the region, providing education and entertainment to worshipers, as well as moral and religious instruction.

The Lovefeast became a regular part of the Methodist scene and among offshoot groups, including Wesleyans, Independents, Primitives, New Connexion, and Bible Christians.   It was an opportunity for the worshipers to enjoy each other’s company, as well as give testimony to God’s grace, hear exhortations, and to learn about the spiritual lives of others.  Hymns, songs, and other forms of praise would be given – and food would be eaten.

A large communal cup of water was also often passed around.  From 1830 onward the more affluent chapels often acquired their own two-handed tankards, made of white earthenware with hand-painted inscriptions recording the name of the chapel and the word ‘Love-Feast’ (see example above).  Food would be especially prepared, including a Lovefeast loaf.  Here are some regional Lovefeast loaf recipes recorded in the early 20th century, but originating well before then.

(1) Arkengarthdale Lovefeast Loaf


  • 14 oz (400g) flour
  • 1 oz (28g) butter
  • 1 oz (28g) lard
  • 1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 oz (55g) currants
  • 1 tablespoon of candied peel
  • 10 fl oz (half a pint) milk
  • pinch of salt


  1. Mix the flour and salt, rub in the fats and mix in the remaining dry ingredients
  2. Stir in the milk to give a dropping consistency
  3. Transfer the mix to a greased and lined 2lb/9oog loaf tin and bake in a moderate oven at 180C/350F/gas mark 4 for 50-60 minutes.
  4. When cool, it is sliced and spread with butter.

Source: Peter Brears. Traditional Food in Yorkshire (2014) p.268. Prospect books.


Joanna Dawson also records two other regional lovefeast bread recipes in her survey of Methodism.

(2) Middlesmoor Lovefeast Bread


  • 2 lbs (32 oz/900g) plain flour
  • 1 lb (16 oz/450g) sugar
  • 1 lb (16 oz/450g) currants
  • 4 oz (113g) lemon peel
  • 3 eggs
  • 5 oz (140g) butter
  • 5 oz (140g) lard
  • 8 oz (225g) sultanas
  • 2 oz (55g) baking powder
  •  1 pint (20 fl oz) milk


  1. Mix flour and baking powder, rub in the butter and lard and add fruit
  2. Beat the eggs with the milk and add to the dry ingredients
  3. Put into loaf tins and bake in a moderate oven (around gas mark 4/350F/180C) until firm.

(3) Pateley Lovefeast Bread


  • 2 lbs (32 oz/900g) plain flour)
  • 6 oz (170g) lard
  • 8 oz (225g) sugar
  • 1 lb (16 oz/450g) dried fruit and peel mixture
  • 1 oz (28g) fresh yeast
  • 1 teaspoon bi-carbonate of soda
  • Dash of nutmeg and salt
  • 1 teaspoon mixed cake spices


  1. Mix yeast with a little warm milk and water
  2. Mix flour and dry ingredients
  3. Rub in the lard
  4. Knead and leave to rise in a warm place until risen, around 60-90 minutes
  5. Knead again and put into warmed bread tins
  6. Bake for 75 minutes in a slow oven (gas mark 2/300F/150C)


Dawson, J.M. (1978) Methodism at the Grass-Roots in the Great Haworth Round. Wesley Historical Society, Yorkshire Branch, Occasional Paper no.3.


See also The First Lovefeast in the West Riding

One Response to Lovefeast Loaf

  • Rachel Frankel

    I loved your post on the Lovefeast Loaf.  I posted about it on my Twitter account: @BreadShapes: about ‘bread symbols, shapes, foodways and folklore.’  And cakes and pies.

    If you have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or other social media accounts I will follow you and re-post content. Great website – Excellent historical background!

    Thanks so much.  Rachel (In London…)

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