Lantern tray bake

This is a no-bake tray ‘bake’ that my mother has been making for years. It pops up all over the place in countless cook books and web pages, and yet few people seem to know where the word ‘lantern’ comes from. It turns out that the recipe originates from a 1970’s issue of Women’s Realm, where it is suggested that it be eaten by lantern light while out carol singing.

Women’s Realm, February 1985

Notably, like many tray bakes from the 1970s, the original recipe called for a ‘small can of condensed milk.’ This refers to the 200g can that Carnation used to make. These days, that tin size is not available, so you need to use half of the 400g version – or make a massive tray bake with double everything.

Lantern tray bake

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By Margaret Eastmond Serves: 18
Cooking Time: Overnight


  • 150g butter
  • 150g plain chocolate
  • 150g raisins
  • 200g condensed milk
  • 250g digestive biscuits, bashed in a bag into shards and crumb



Melt the butter and chocolate in a pan. Remove from the heat and mix in the other ingredients.


Pour into a greased brownie tin and refrigerate overnight.


Cut into squares and lever out of the tin to serve. Just with icing sugar if liked.


A variation to this melts some more chocolate in a bain marie and pours it over the top of the pressed mixture. This gives a smoother and more elegant-looking bake.

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  • Reply
    10/11/2023 at 7:05 pm

    Hi Nigel, I lost my dear Irish Mum last November and decided to make Lantern Tray bake as she did for me as a child.. I’m delighted to discover your recipe and will make it this weekend. I’ll also try your Soda bread recipe. She told me that her mum baked it in Ireland every day back in the 1930s/40s. Kind regards, Jonathan

    • Reply
      Nigel Eastmond
      11/11/2023 at 7:46 pm

      Dear Jonathan, I hope this is like the one your mother made. I think it is probably exactly the same recipe, as my forensics drilled the recipe down to Women’s Realm – which was also popular in Ireland. I am not sure my soda bread is completely brilliant though. We have more Irish recipes on there. My wife really likes Dublin coddle. She adds chilli sauce to it though.

  • Reply
    18/02/2024 at 11:05 pm

    This is brilliant, I can’t wait to try this. My mum used to make this for me as a child in the early 90’s. The recipe came from a recipe book sold by my nursery for funding. I suspect one of the mums got the recipe originally from this magazine! I have fond memories of helping smash the biscuits.

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