Owner of Cumbrian-based family business Ginger Bakers, Lisa Smith, discovered on Thursday 29th October that the company’s Westmorland Pepper Cake had won a highly prestigious award in the Best British Speciality category judged by the Hairy Bikers Dave Myers and Si King, in the annual Great British Food Awards.
The annual awards celebrate the country’s finest home-grown ingredients, as well as the hard-working folk who produce and cook with them.
This year’s judges alongside the Hairy Bikers also included Natalia Ribbe, Adam Handling, William Sitwell, Asma Khan, Raymond Blanc, Rosie Birkett and Michel Roux Jr, who all tasted their way through a huge array of products across the 47 categories covering everything from beer, cheese, charcuterie, seafood, cake and bakes.
There’s no doubt that Ginger Baker’s Westmorland Pepper Cake is a cake with a difference, and happily it also heralded the revival of this historic spiced fruitcake. The cake’s recipe is based on a classic fruit cake, with dried fruits in the batter, however, that’s where the similarity ends. The unusual addition of a number of spices; including ground cloves, ginger, cracked black pepper and black treacle gives this cake it’s unique flavour.
Westmorland Pepper Cake, like many of Cumbria’s historic foods, contains an array of spices, their inclusion and use in the recipe is directly linked to the significant international shipping trade with former British overseas colonies in the Caribbean, Americas, and Far East, through the ports of Whitehaven and Maryport.
In 2014 Lisa’s version of Westmorland Pepper Cake was granted Forgotten Food status by the Slow Food Movement as part of their Ark of Taste project. The Ark was created to point out the existence of products like Westmorland Pepper Cake and draws attention to the risk that these foods might disappear within a few generations if nothing is done to reinvigorate them.
Lisa Smith, owner of Ginger Bakers, commented: ‘’It’s a real achievement for the team that our Westmorland Pepper cake received a high commended award in this year’s Best British Speciality category in the Great British Food Awards.’’
She added: ‘’It’s also really amazing to think that a very nearly forgotten food from the old county of Westmorland, has the potential to be firmly put back in the foodie spotlight. It’s just one example of why we should be justifiably proud of our food heritage. By reviving old recipes like Westmorland Pepper Cake, we are helping to preserve our rich food heritage, whilst at the same time we are making them commercially viable as we introduce them to new audiences, and that’s only got to be a good thing.’