The famous and historic liquorice sweet - Pontefract Cakes! Like many sweets, they first came about as a medicine.
Liquorice (a hardy plant) was first grown around Pontefract, Yorkshire by the Dominican monks in the 14th century who settled at Pontefract Priory close to the Castle. Liquorice was grown for it's herbal remedies for easing coughs and stomach complaints.
In the 1600s, the liquorice extract (from the liquorice root) was being formed into small lozenges and then stamped to round 'cakes'.
It was not until 1760 that a Pontefract apothecary, George Dunhill, hit upon the idea of adding sugar to the recipe and began to produce 'Pomfret Cakes' commercially as a 'sweet'.
Pontefract Cake Facts:
1. The stamp on the Pontefract Cakes is the image of Pontefract castle and an owl.
2. 'Pomfet' Cakes as it is sometimes referred to is an old Norman word for Pontefract
3. There were once 10 facrories in Pontefract producing liquorice sweets.
4. Until the mid 20th century all Pontefract Cakes were hand-stamped by a team of 45 women workers who were each able to press between 20 and 25 thousand cakes a day