Calling all residents of Ripon – can you bake a Wilfra Cake?
Wilfra tarts and cakes were traditionally made in Ripon for Wilfra Week which celebrated the return from exile of the popular St Wilfrid – or Wilfra – the 7th century bishop who built Ripon’s first cathedral.
Townspeople formed a procession led by a horse carrying an effigy of the saint and Wilfra tarts or cakes were baked and placed on front steps and window-sills for passers-by to help themselves.
Recorded Wilfra recipes in fact pre-date the first recorded Yorkshire Pudding recipe so they really are the traditional Yorkshire dish! The August procession is still very popular but the tradition of baking Wilfra Tarts and cakes has unfortunately fallen by the wayside.
Yorkshire Day, supported by Visit Harrogate, will be a celebrated in Ripon on Wednesday, 1st August with entertainment, activities, a civic procession, four horn blowers, fireworks and so much more. Ripon Museums will be in the Market Place providing some Victorian fun, entertainment, and Punch and Judy, and would like to give, in the old tradition, Wilfra cakes to passers-by.
So, do you know anyone who can bake a Wilfra Cake or remembers baking them? Let’s reinstate this unique Yorkshire tradition back into Ripon’s heritage. If you can bake a Wilfra cake, please bring either to the Ripon Museums stall in Ripon’s Market Place on 1st August, or to the Workhouse Museum the day before, on Tuesday 31st July.
Just in case there are no recipes filed in the cooking books at home, this is how to make a Wilfra Cake – feel free to adapt this so as to be gluten-free or a wheat-free:
8 oz Plain Flour 4oz Butter or Margarine 1 tablespoon Caster Sugar A pinch of salt 1 Egg Yolk 1-2 teaspoons Water
1.5lb peeled and thinly sliced cooking apples
3oz demerara sugar
3oz grated Wensleydale Cheese
Rub the butter into the flour, sugar and salt. Mix to a stiff paste with the egg yolk and a little water. Leave to rest in a cool place until required.
Line a Swiss roll tin or pie tin with half the pastry and lightly prick the bottom. Lay on the finely sliced apples and add the sugar. Grate the cheese onto the top. Put on a pastry lid and brush with milk and sugar. Make a few slits along the top and bake for 10 minutes at 425° F; 220° C; Gas Mark 7; for 10 minutes and then lower to 350° F; 180″ C; Gas Mark 4; for a further 30 minutes. Serve with cream.
The combination of apple and cheese is one much loved by Yorkshire men and women, “An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze,” or so the little jingle would have it!