Mrs Arthur Webb’s Cornish raisin cider pie

Mrs Arthur Webb – that is how Mabel Webb, née Edwards was known to her thousands of fans… she would not have called them fans, she would have called the readers or listeners, because she was a writer and broadcaster. She was known across the country as someone who was passionate about recipes, especially old traditional and local recipes, handed down through the generations. Sadly her books are beyond my price range, but I shall keep my eyes open in charity shops, second-hand and junk shops!

I found an article about her and the article mentioned some of the recipes she wrote about, and probably included in her books. The article was for a London newspaper and no doubt picked out odd sounding bucolic recipes to ‘amuse’ their metropolitan audience.

One of the recipes came from Cornwall, figgy hobbin or ‘obbin – if you love figs you might be disappointed because there are no figs in it! To Cornish people figs are raisins – and looking at some of the recipes I can find, it is a simple but yummy sounding accompaniment to a cup of tea. ‘Obbin is suet pastry rolled out, sprinkled with raisins (sometimes they have been soaked in lemon juice, sometimes lemon juice or zest or thinly cut rind), the raisins lightly pressed into the pastry which is rolled up into a sausage shape. Sometimes it is slashed on the top, sometimes brushed with milk, sometimes sprinkled with sugar, then baked and when cooked sliced and eaten, sometimes with butter.

Here is another Cornish recipe very much along the same lines:

Cornish raisin cider pie

  • 12 oz shortcrust or suet pastry
  • 8 oz seedless raisins
  • ¼ pint west country cider
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 oz castor sugar
  • 1  tbsp cornflour
  • 2 oz chopped walnuts
  • castor sugar for sprinkling
  • clotted cream
  1. soak the raisins in the cider and zest overnight
  2. mix the lemon juice, sugar and cornflour very well
  3. put the raisins and cider into a pan and add the lemon juice/sugar/cornflour paste
  4. stir really well as you bring it to the boil
  5. take off the heat and mix in the walnuts then leave it to cool
  6. lint an 8″ pie dish, leaving some pastry for the top
  7. spoon the cool raisin/cider/lemon/walnut mixture into the pie
  8. cover with pastry lid, sealing edges with water
  9. brush with water and sprinkle with castor sugar (I guess if you prefer you could use milk or egg, but this is the original simple recipe!)
  10. bake at gas 7, 425° F, 220º C for 15 mins only
  11. turn down the oven to gas 5, 375° F, 190º C for another 20 mins
  12. serve with clotted cream

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