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John Thacker's Hare Pie

A rabbit or hare pie designed by John Thacker, cook to the Dean and Chapter of Durham Cathedral in the 1740s and 50s. Click to see Thacker's Recipe.

Elizabeth Browne's 'Little Cakes', a type of wigg or arvel bread, served at funerals in the North-West of England. Elizabeth's buttery cakes are very rich and light and flavoured with coriander and carraway seeds.The recipe, written in her own hand in a manuscript receipt book, dates from 1699. When she died in 1728, 14 dozen wiggs, baked at a cost of seven shillings were served at her own funeral. Click the wiggs to see Elizabeth's original recipe.

lobster pie

Learn how to make intricate decorative pie coffins like Robert May's wonderful lobster pie.

Bake these delicious manchet loaves using ale yeast from the brewhouse and stoneground English flour.

decorating the pie

Gain experience in using pie formers and wooden decoration 'cards' like the examples above. Click the pie former below to find out more about pies, chewitts and pasties.

Find out more about pies

Click to find out more about puddings

Click the pudding design above to see our recipe feature on English baked puddings

Making Westmorland clapcake - one cake cooks on the girdle while another dries on a havercake maiden. Clapcake or havercake is a very ancient oat cake which was formerly ubiquitous in the English Lake District, but now rarely made - other than at Historic Food!


Bread and cakes leavened with fresh ale yeast or 'barm' and baked in a wood fired oven are the antithesis of the tasteless baked goods of the supermarket shelves. Learn to make the wonderful English breads of the pre-industrial period - manchet, cheat, cocklebread, maslin and wiggs. Try your hand at making forgotten hearth-baked specialities from the English regions, such as Westmorland clapcake and tharf bread (see below). Bake a 'great cake' in a wooden 'garth' and learn to ice it in the oven.

Remarkable pies from the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are another feature of our baking courses - chewitts, mermaid pie, lumber pie, lamb pasty and dowlett pie are just a few of the forgetten delicacies of the great English pastry tradition that we regularly make at Historic Food. Learn how to use wooden pie forms and sprung moulds, or to raise a custard coffin in complex shapes from late Stuart designs.

Lobster Pie

Robert May's lobster pie of 1660 made from the woodcut design opposite. Formed from a strong hot water crust, this spectacular shaped pie is presented to table on an eighteen inch charger. It is charger rim is garnished with capers and jagged lemons.
Bakery Course Outline


10 am - Bread in England. 16th - 18th Centuries. Welcome and introduction to the course by Ivan Day. Barms and ale yeasts. The techniques of baking in a brick oven.

10.45 -13.00 - Breads made with finely bolted flours - manchet and French Rolls.

13.00 - 14.00 - Lunch

14.00 - 15.30 - Balm-leavened cakes 16th - 18th Centuries Cakes baked in wooden garths, 17th century saffron cakes, 18th century bridecake. Whigs.

15.30 - 15.45 - Tea

15.45 - 17.00 - Icing cakes in the low oven

17.00 - 20.00 - Free

20.00 - Historic Dinner at Wreay Farm


10.00 - 10.45 - 17th and 18th Century Pies and Pastry. Make pasty paste and standing crusts.

10.45 - 13.00 - Raised and decorated pies - lumber pie, shred pies, mermaid pie and lamb pasty. Using wooden pie forms and sprung metal formers.

13.00 - 14.00 - Lunch

14.00 - 17.00 (Tea at 15.30) - Tarts, custards and English cheesecakes. Make royal paste and custard paste. Tort de Moy, taffety tarts, set custards in baroque forms, English decorated cheesecakes.

Click to find out more about mince pies

A selection of mince pies - click picture to find out more

Two finished clapcakes with an eighteenth century wrought iron spurtle. Martin Campbell, who took these photographs, together with his wife Cecelia, have launched an excellent website devoted to the contemporary food culture of our beautiful region called Outside London, Cumbria is probably the most exciting region in England for good food and this site is the best place on the internet to learn about it.

Photographs ©2006 - Martin Campbell

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