Wycoller is a beautiful, or perhaps too beautiful, a hamlet in Lancashire, close to the border with Yorkshire. It is just a couple of miles from where I lived as a child and I knew it as an abounded hamlet that was a great place for kids to play in and explore. We would climb all over the ruins and then try and tickle fish in the local beck.
Once a year the local primary school, Trawden, used to hold a cricket match against a school from Padiham. It felt light we were being visited by pupils from the big city, in spite of Padiham being just a small town itself. The match would take place on the green in Wycoller, just the other side of the beck and in the shadows of the abandoned Wycoller Hall.
The ruins of Wycoller Hall are central to the village, which itself dates back to before the 10th century BC. The hall is supposedly haunted, after the lord of the manor murdered his own wife there in a fit of jealousy! His spectre can still be heard riding up Wycoller Dean whenever the weather is particularly inclement…… ‘Ferndean Manor’ in Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre is thought to have be based on Wycoller Hall. The hamlet also appears in at least one film, “The Railway Children”.
There are a couple of interesting bridges that cross the beck. There is the beautiful “Pack-Horse Bridge” near the village centre which is twin arched and a little further up “Clam Bridge” which is a single slab of stone thought to be of neolithic origin.
Alas, progress and popularity arrived and the village is now full to overflowing with tourists and, for me at least, it has lost much of its charm. The houses are all renovated, consumerism is rife, and quiet and tranquil are adjectives no longer applicable to the place. No doubt the shop and cafe owners are content, if not the actual residents. I wonder if they still play cricket on the green?
As for the Dean and the beautiful hills around the village, when last I went there it was all fenced off. Public rights of way are still open of course, but visitors are now restricted to them. I guess one can’t blame the farmers, when it was just a couple of kids roaming free there were no real problems. Now with hundreds if not thousands of visitors I can understand that access needs to be controlled. Again a great shame.
Anyway, as usual I have wandered significantly off topic, but I guess many of you know me well enough by now to not be particularly surprised. I often remind myself of Ronnie Corbett, where he would sit in his chair and take five minutes to tell a thirty-second joke!
So the recipe…… well it is from the village of Wycoller and although it is referred to as a “cake” it is not! If I were to describe it in just a few short words I would say it is more like a jam filled shortbread. Either way this cake is simple and delicious.
As a child I used to go round to the next door neighbour’s and watch her bake. Mrs. Eastwood, for that was her name, was often baking. The kitchen area was just inside the door on the left, so it was easy to just slip in and watch her. Who would have thought that fifty years on I would be spending much of my time in the kitchen…… As Steve Jobs said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards”……
So back to the recipe, again…… this is Mrs. Eastwood’s recipe for Wycoller Cake. Probably as authentic as one can get and delicious. I hope you enjoy it:
Makes one 22cm diameter cake
10ml Baking Powder
Sugar (for dusting)
Take the butter out of the fridge and allow to reach room temperature.
Mix the flour and baking powder together.
Rub in the margarine, just rub the mixture between your fingertips until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Rub in the sugar.
Beat the egg and cut just enough of the egg into the flour mixture to form a dough. Just make cutting actions, slicing the blade through the mixute, until the dough starts to come together.
Cutting in the Egg Mixture
The dough should be slightly soft, certainly not hard, but not too soft that it is too difficult to roll out.
Knead the dough briefly to finish bringing it together then cut in half.
Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC.
Roll out one circle, about 22cm diameter.
Place onto a baking sheet.
Spread a good quantity of jam onto the dough circle. I used homemade Blackberry Jelly, it seemed appropriate as blackberries are common in the area!
Roll out the remaining dough to form another circle. Lay it on top of the first, trim the edges then crimp to seal. Make a couple of holes in the top to allow any steam to escape.
Scatter the top with sugar then bake for 15 to 20 minutes or until lightly brown.
Leave to cool on the baking tray.
You will have noticed that the recipe uses margarine. That is the way the recipe was given to me and it works out well. I tend to use butter so I will no doubt be trying the recipe with butter next time. If you try it with butter please let me know how you get on via the comments option on the blog.
tsp – Teaspoon – 5ml
tbsp – Tablespoon – 15ml
2016 Lincoln W. Betteridge