Wilfra Tarts, North Yorkshire
St Wilfred, or Wilfra, began the construction of the Cathedral in Ripon in the 7th century. He was a great local favourite, and it is said that when he returned from an absence abroad the people feasted in his honour, highly likely given his prominence.
A dish still made, though not in such numbers as in past times, during the first week in August, known in Ripon as Wilfra week, is a little apple and cheese pie. These Wilfra tarts, so-called, were once left on windowsills and other convenient surfaces by the townspeople for visitors and friends to enjoy.
The recipe is a simple and satisfying one. Shortcrust pastry bases in a bun or patty pan tin are filled with cooking apple that has been sweetened with sugar, and softened a little by gently cooking. On top of the apple a slice of Wensleydale cheese is placed, or this cheese is grated if you prefer, followed by a pastry lid in which a slit or more traditionally two are cut to let steam from the apple escape.
After baking for a half hour or so at 180 centigrade, when the tops show the unmistakable golden hue of done pastry, the tarts are ready.
The combination of apple and cheese is one much loved by Yorkshire men and women, as well as by those on the other side of the Pennines : “An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze,” or so the little jingle would have it, though some would strongly disagree.
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