This Westmorland Pepper Cake is an unusual cake from the Lake District (in North-West England) it is made with lots of black treacle and … pepper! If it were not for the name, and the added pepper and spices, this could easily be just another fruit cake – instead this is a ‘spiced cake’, probably of very old origins. This recipe comes from: ‘Recipes Of Lakeland: Collected By Cumbria’, published in 1966 from readers of ‘Cumbria’ newspaper. The weights and measures have been adapted for the modern kitchen and the method expanded.
Westmorland Pepper Cake Recipe
- 500g plain flour
- 250g sugar
- 250g of black treacle (molasses)
- 125g butter, softened
- 125g currants
- 125g raisins
- 60g candied peel
- 3 eggs, beaten
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Grease a medium sized cake tin with a little butter and line it with baking parchment. It is best to use a cake tin with a removable base to ‘pop’ the cake out after baking.
Preheat the oven to 160C
In a large mixing bowl sift in the flour and stir in the sugar. Rub the softened butter into the flour and sugar to make it resemble fine breadcrumbs.
Add in the ground ginger, ground cloves, baking powder and freshly ground black pepper. Stir to mix.
Add in the mixed candied peel, currants and raisins. Mix in. Then finally add the beaten eggs and black treacle (molasses). Stir the cake mixture thoroughly.
Pour the fully mixed cake batter into the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven at 160C for 1 to 1 and a 1/2 hours (60 to 90 minutes). To tell it is baked push a skewer into the centre of the cake and see if it comes out hot and clean.
Once baked remove from the oven and cool the Westmorland Pepper Cake in the tin for 20 minutes, then turn the cake out, remove the baking paper and leave to cool completely on a wire rack. Ideally store the Westmorland Pepper Cake in an air tight tin – the cake will last several days if kept wrapped in foil in a lidded tin, in a cool place.