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1 April 2004
The butcher, baker and meat pie maker
by Anne-Louise Mazzafiore
Barry putting bread in oven
Barry and his historic oven
Barry Haworth has drawn on his experience from working in the meat industry and running fish and chip shops to carry on a baking tradition in Haslingden. He owns Cissy Green's Bakery, which produces meat pies that have been legendary in the town for over 200 years. His cakes are now taking the Germans by storm too.
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INFO

Cissy Green's Bakery
30 Higher Deardengate
Haslingden
Lancashire
Tel: 01706 215099

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meat pie
A Cissy Green's meat pie
The business was called Ashworths when Barry bought it, but he changed its name back to Cissy Green's when he found out about the history of the place. "When I bought this business, people kept coming in asking for a Cissy Green's meat pie, but yet it had Ashworths written over the door. That's because Cissy Green inherited the shop off her parents and then she married a guy called Ashworth. Cissy Green's parents owned this place in the 1880s/1890s, Cissy Green came along herself in the early 1900s. As far as I can gather, she used to make all the meat pies and she used to hand-raise these pies. That's quite a skill and what we still do now."

It's not just the meat pies that have proved a winner, the bakery also produces Rossendale Cakes, a kind of elongated Eccles Cake made with dried fruits and spices. 'Rossie' Cakes as they are affectionately known, have proved to be a real hit in Germany.

Rossendale Cake
The Rossendale Cake
It was Tim Nuttall, the town's twinning officer, that told Barry that some German bakers were coming over and that they wanted to have a look at some local bakeries. Barry gave them a tour of his bakery, "Their bottom jaws were dragging on the floor! You actually bake on those old ovens?! Do they still work?! They were great people, really fantastically friendly people. I gave them some of our meat pies and as they don't really have pies in Germany so it was something new for them. We went over there to visit them too and were really well looked after. They really liked the Rossendale Cake and asked us why there wasn't a Bocholt Biscuit." After a chat over a few beers with Bocholt bakers Hans and Helmut (and overcoming difficulties with the translating of words like raisins and cherries), the idea of the Bocholt Biscuit was born. Barry has been on the case since with a clear vision for the recipe for this biscuit, "I want to make it so it is a specifically difficult handmade product so that a housewife can make it in her own kitchen, I want to keep it small and traditionally handmade in a small kitchen environment."

He's sent a sample over to Bocholt and he's now waiting to see what the bakers over there think of it. It's slightly nerve-wracking, as Barry has enourmous respect for the twin town's bakers.
"They've got some outrageously extravagent slices of cake in Germany! I worked in Hans' bakery and helped him get some big slabs of cake out of his ovens and these slabs of cake were as big as a door! The smell when that oven opens when it's coming out, it's fantastic!"

Follow this link for the recipe for Rossendale Cake


As Barry works on creating baking history with his German counterparts, he is also keen to celebrate baking history in his own town. He wants to set up an annual celebration in Cissy Green's memory. "I've tried to find out when her birthday was because I've got this idea that for her birthday we'll make a massive birthday cake and we'll give everybody in Haslingden a piece, but we've not been able to find out when it's her birthday. I've visited the grave because I thought it might say it on there, but it doesn't. I've never been able to find out where the family are now either."

cakes
A selection of the bakery's traditional cakes and pastries
Barry is also passionate about keeping the old fashioned bakery skills going, "Cissy Green is dead and gone now but some of the recipes that her parents have passed on to her went back way beyond that. There is some real history in the methods of making things. I want to carry on that tradition. It's a real art to be able to bake properly. Bakers are special people, who wants to get up at 3 o'clock and be at work for half past three? Just getting up at that time in the morning would put 99% of kids off today, so it's hard work to find them. But the way we do it in the old fashioned way there's no way round it. We've got to find people and teach them the skills otherwise the business will die. As it stands at the moment, maybe there's another 15-20 years that this place can keep going with the staff that are working here now, but after that unless somebody new comes along that really wants to learn the old fashioned ways, then this business that's been here 200 years is going to disappear."

Do you you know anything about Cissy Green? Could you help us find out when she was born so Barry can bake a big cake for Haslingden?

"Sorry, I can't help you with Cissy but I do like your Web page. Meat pies my favourite food. May get to visit your shop in September. Take care and best wishes"
Dennis Osborne, Cobble Hill, BC, Canada

"I know nothing about Cissy except that her pies are without parallel. I first came across them when I worked at Karrimore in the 1970s (in the old Coop place) and had to go and get the morning orders for my colleagues. Since I make every effort to sample their delights and bring them home for tea everytime I visit Haslingden."
Steve Haines, Windsor, Berkshire


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