Blood Cake


Blood cake and black pudding are very similar. The only difference is the casing or skin; the filling is essentially the same. Blood cake is skinless and is cooked in a loaf pan inside a bain-marie whereas black pudding is stuffed into hog casings and cooked like a boiled sausage. Baking it in a loaf pan is definitely the easier option and is much less messy. 

Unless you slaughter your own pigs, or know someone who does, the hardest part about this recipe is obtaining the pig’s blood. It’s almost impossible…you may be able to find it in a specially grocer depending on where you live; I certainly couldn’t get it in stores here and it is illegal to sell in some places. If you can’t source any pigs blood you can buy dried pigs blood online and re-hydrate with water or milk.


1 litre pigs blood
500g pork back-fat, chopped
3 large opinions, finely chopped/diced
300g pearl barley
200g rolled oats (see note below)
4 cloves of garlic
15g salt
10g ground coriander
10g dried sage
10g dried mace
10g white or dark pepper
3tbs brandy

You can use this recipe to make black pudding in casings or blood cake in a loaf tin. You can adjust the quantities in the recipe to suit your needs. With the above quantities you will end up with at least two loaf tins of blood cake!

Note – cover the oats with cold water and soak for as long as possible.  If time permits, soak them overnight.


Rinse the pearl barley in a sieve under running cold water until the water runs clear, then place in a pot and cover with water. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer for at least 40 minutes (or per the packet instructions), then drain and leave to cool. Be careful not to overcook the barley otherwise it will give the cake a mushy texture. It will also be cooked again later in the oven.


While this is happening, preheat your oven to 170°C and gather all your remaining ingredients. Finely chop your onions and back-fat. Especially for the back fat it helps to use a sharp knife to chop the pieces as small as possible. You can also try partially freezing the back-fat so it is firmer and easier to slice.


In a large heavy bottom non-stick pan, take some of the backfat and gently render in the pan. You can use duck fat or oil, but I didn’t see the point when I had all this amazing pork back-fat!


Add in your onion and garlic, leave to sweat until they become translucent in colour and soft in texture.


Once the onion is ready, transfer to a bowl or plate and cook the rest of the back-fat. You want the back-fat to be soft and clear but not browned.


Combine the onion and back-fat until evenly mixed.


Stir through the pearl barley.


Add in the oats.


Then add in the brandy and stir through the spice mixture.


Now the fun begins!  Stir the pig’s blood to prevent clots from forming and then strain through a sieve into a bowl to remove any lumps and clots that may have formed.


Slowly add in and stir through the blood and leave to simmer for at least 15-20 minutes until the blood starts to thicken. The consistency should be like a pancake batter. Making sure to stir the mixture from time to time. Taste the mixture and adjust the seasoning if necessary.


Lightly grease a loaf/terrine dish and carefully ladle the trays with your mixture. Cover with aluminum foil. Then place your loaf pans into a water bath or bain-marie .


For my bain-marie I used a large roasting tray; I placed my loaf pans inside a large roasting tray that was filled 3/4 full with boiling water (add the water after you have put the pans in to avoid a messy spill!).
Place in the oven for 1.5-2 hours. To check to see whether it’s cooked through and ready by inserting a wooden skewer/toothpick into the centre, it should come out clean. Just like you would baking a cake.


When ready, remove from the tins and allow to cool on a wire rack. For better results place in the fridge overnight to firm up and set properly – great for breakfast in the morning! It’s really fun to make and even better to eat.

There is plenty got go around, so this is the perfect excuse to invite your family and friends over!

Slice up the blood cake and heat up in a frying pan until heated through and crisp on the outside.  It is delicious for breakfast with bacon,  eggs, hot mustard, cracked pepper and toasted rye or sourdough bread. I also like to add some gherkins on the side.

Keep the blood cake covered and store it in the fridge.


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