Cockermouth Christmas Loaf

Cockermouth Christmas Loaf

A chance find in a charity shop led to a marvellous discovery revealing secret recipes lost over 100 years ago and leading to a story spanning the north of England.

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In 2012 York based historian David Lewis accidentally unearthed the notebook of Mary Eleanor Blakey an MBE and the commandant of Cockermouth Auxiliary Hospital in WWI.  Inside were a plethora of recipes from times gone by.

Whilst some of her dishes, like Stuffed Sheep’s Head and Battered Tripe might not grace many tables today, she did record a recipe for a rather delicious Christmas Loaf which she acquired from a Mrs Viddel; which we have featured below.

Mary Blakey led an extraordinary life and was married to a larger than life Cockermouth farmer named Willie Hall of Evening Hill House.

David Glyn Lewis wrote a book on the life and recipes of Blakey and is visiting the Kirkgate Centre to give a talk on her.

David said: “It took me four years to publish it and I’m coming to Cockermouth because I’d just love to know the rest of her story.”

Cockermouth Christmas Loaf (Mrs Viddel’s Loaf)

Ingredients:

  • 8oz Flour
  • 4 Eggs
  • 6oz Sultanas
  • 6oz Butter
  • 6oz Currants
  • 6oz Raisins
  • 2oz Lemon Peel
  • Small Piece of Carrot
  • Lemon Rind
  • 1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice
  • 1 Small Apple
  • A Few Drops of Almond
  • 1 Nutmeg (Ground)
  • 1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
  • A Little Egg & Vanilla + Ginger
  • 2oz Whole Almonds
  • 1oz Glace Cherries

Method:

Beat the butter and sugar, add the eggs gradually, beat well add all the flavourings then add the flour and fruit mixed together. Finally add the baking powder and bake from 3-4 hours.

Editor’s note: Ovens these days are substantially more sophisticated than the ones Mary would have used to bake her loaf, so use your loaf and adjust cooking times to suit.

David Glyn Lewis will be hosting a talk on Thursday 17 November at the Kirkgate Centre at 1:45pm; Tickets are £4 or £2 for over 60s. His book Durability, Efficiency and Economy is available to buy from him on: dglmeb@gmail.com for £6.50 including P+P or from Waterstones for £7.50.

 

 

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