Thursday, 29 October 2015

Divil's nose

Today I thought I'd share with you a sweet treat for Halloween. And I have to be honest, it's purely because of the name: my Great Grandmother called it Divil's Nose!  It probably goes by different names around the country but this one seems to be unique to the Wigan area where she grew up. In fact, I found out that it also goes by the name of Singing Lily, possibly in honour of the Wigan lass, Lily Brayton, who was an actress and singer in the early 1900s.

But what is this Divil's Nose? Well, actually, it's what I've always known as a Chorley cake: a layer of raisins between 2 layers of pastry. A frugal dish born of a time when you had to use up every last scrap of food. The ingredients are simply:

Leftover pastry
Currants, or other dried fruits
A knob of butter

Roll out the pastry into a round. Put the dried fruit in the centre, sprinkle with sugar and add a knob of butter.

Run a wet finger around the edge and then fold the edges of the pastry into the centre.

Turn it over so the folded edges are underneath. Roll out until the fruit shows through. Put on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and bake in the oven on 160C/Gas 3 until lightly golden.

Serve as it is or, as we used to when I was little, spread with butter. Mum said mine was a bit thin and I'd browned it too much! Oh dear. It didn't stop her having a piece though :-)

However, she had no complaints about my second version. I wanted to spice it up a bit and, as Chickpea isn't keen on currants, use a different dried fruit.

Instead, I used chopped dates and soaked them in a good splosh of dark rum. Then I spread it out over the pastry as normal.

My pastry was a cobbler mix and already on the damp side. As I folded it in, the extra moisture from the rum made it tear. For this reason, I didn't bother to roll it out but just plonked it on the baking tray.

Rather more rustic in appearance but, oh so good! We actually preferred this version as the rum-soaked fruit made it moist and the cracks in the pastry made the buttery, sugary juices ooze and caramelise on the top. Yum yum yum! I'll be making this version again.

So there you have it, 2 versions of Divil's Nose. What is it called where you live?

I'll be back on Halloween but not with anything spooky: it's Scavenger Hunt time. In fact, I don't even know if we'll be doing anything Halloweeny as we're meeting a group of friends in Manchester for pizza and James Bond! I do have my pumpkin head boppers at the ready though...

See you on Saturday. Almost the weekend. Hurrah!


  1. Living in the north, we know it as Chorley cake. But when my children where small they would question ' what's in it??', so I told them dead flies!! They'd eaten it by then and loved it and they knew it wasn't really dead flies!! But from then on we call them dead fly cakes, yes we are weird! Your dead fly cakes look really good, I especially like the idea of adding alcohol. Sarah

  2. I have never heard of a divils noes, but I do love a good chorley cake which is what the currant one sounds like to me! xx

  3. I've never heard of this - but it certainly sounds like a great recipe - I might just have to try it.

  4. Yummy. I have to make pies soon so will try this with my scraps. A slather of the Caramel Apple Jam I have been making would be good over the raisin one!

  5. I've never heard of this, as Divil's Nose or by any other name, but this post made me think of my Grandad who was from Lancashire and always said 'Divil', with an i rather than an e, which used to amuse me when I was very young!