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."
Cissy Green's meat pie
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.
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
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!"
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."
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
selection of the bakery's traditional cakes and pastries
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
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