My ancestors were candy makers. Among other things.
When I was a child, going ‘to town’ always meant a visit to the Sweet Shop. For Pontefract Cakes. As far as my matrilineal family members were concerned, Pontefract cakes were their own food group.
My youthful love of licorice was so pronounced that 30 years later, someone I grew up with had only one question when she learned I’d gone paleo: “But you still eat licorice, right?”
No. I said. But: I have licorice lip balm, licorice toothpaste and licorice tea…
This recipe’s for my mum, who died in August. And my grandma, who I still miss.
Whenever I want, I can evoke them with licorice.
Pontefract Cakes (AIP & low-FODMAP)
- 3 Licorice Teabags
- 1 cup Boiling Water
- 2 cups Blueberries
- 1 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla Powder
- ¼ teaspoon Himalayan salt
- 3 tablespoons (grass-fed) Gelatin
Pour the boiling water over the tea bags and steep for four or more hours, until the tea is cool.
In a saucepan, heat the blueberries with half a cup of the licorice tea, the vanilla & salt until the mixture is hot & bubbling.
Meanwhile, pour the remaining half cup of cool licorice tea in a wide bowl and sprinkle the gelatin on top. Stir to combine, pressing out any lumps with the back of the spoon.
Puree the hot blueberry mixture in a food processor.
Add the hot puree to the waiting gelatin. Stir vigorously to combine, ensuring the gelatin is fully dissolved.
Put the silicon mold (if using) on a baking sheet for ease of transport & spoon the blueberry mixture into each shape.
Chill for 4 or more hours in the freezer before popping the frozen cakes out the molds.
Store in the refrigerator.
No silicon mold? No worries…
Line a baking dish with parchment paper & pour the mixture in. Refrigerate until set & cut (laboriously into coin shapes) with a sharp knife or scissors. (Kidding).
My grandmother always had Pontefract Cakes in the sideboard in her dining room. Tucked in the top drawer, with the family silver. Stored in a paper bag, they’d get incredibly tough.
But I loved them that way.
Sitting in the gloom under the dining room table, contemplating the meaning of everything, gnawing on nearly petrified licorice. I did some good thinking that way.
Of course, I was fond soft Pontefract Cakes, fresh from England, too. My grandmother told me were once hand-stamped, every single one, with a picture of a castle & a raven.
I thought it’d be lovely. Surrounded by licorice all day long.
Anytime we went to the movies we always smuggled Pontefract Cakes into the theatre. According to my grandmother this was ethical, because all they inside had was twizzlers.
As far as I’m concerned, it’s still ethical, if all they have inside is twizzlers!