Cumberland Rum Nicky - Abbi Lawson

Join Abbi as she takes on the role of Annie, an 1840s Cumbrian farmer’s daughter, leading you through the Cumberland Rum Nicky recipe. She gives insights into her life and identity in a historical interpretation that draws attention to the similarities we share with the people who came before us.


Cumberland Rum Nicky Recipe

I’m Abbi, a historical costumer and interpreter living in the little village of Tebay in rural Cumbria – right in between the Lakes and Dales! I have a passion for social history and I love using the surrounding area and its history and heritage as inspiration, particularly when it comes to telling stories that can connect us to each other and the past. My identity is quite firmly grounded in this area and in the rural life here, and in this video I explore how that identity might resonate similarly and differently for someone living here 180 years ago – as well as teaching you how to make a traditional Cumberland Rum Nicky!

YouTube video

Editor’s note: In the interests of decolonising education, this historical reconstruction must be shown alongside the context. Although the recipe is seen as a traditional Cumbrian dish (or from the historic county of Cumberland), many of the ingredients were only introduced to Cumbria in the late 18th Century and were products of the slave trade. The Cumbrian port of Whitehaven was part of the notorious ‘triangular trade’. This involved ships, especially those at Whitehaven, transporting goods to exchange for slaves, transporting in excess of 14,000 African people out of Africa to serve as slaves, and transporting back to Whitehaven the sugar, rum, cotton and tobacco produced by the enslaved labour force.

Follow the links below to read more about Cumbria’s involvement in the slave trade:

Open Learn: Slavery and the North of England 

Cumbria’s Connections to the History and Legacy of Slavery

Lake District Museums – The Rum Story



8oz/225g plain flour
4oz/100g cold unsalted butter
1oz/30g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
1 medium egg
2-3 tablespoons water

8oz dried dates
1 eating apple
2 pieces of stem ginger
2oz/50g brown sugar
2-3 tablespoons dark rum
2oz/50g unsalted butter

+ 1 egg for eggwashing



1. Chop the cold butter into small cubes and rub it into the flour until you get the consistency of breadcrumbs. Add the sugar and salt and stir to combine.
2. Whisk together the egg and water and slowly incorporate into the dough, using a bread knife to “cut” the liquid in, and then your hands to bring it together when clumps start to form. Press the pastry into a flat disc and put it somewhere cold until ready to roll out.
3. Chop the dates and apple into bitesize pieces, and add finely chopped stem ginger. Add the sugar and rum and mix well to combine.
4. Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter an 8-10″ (20-25cm) pie dish or flan dish well.
5. Once the dough has chilled, divide it into roughly 2/3 and 1/3 pieces. Set the smaller piece aside and roll the larger one out to cover the bottom and sides of the pie dish. Carefully lift the pastry into the dish using a rolling pin, and press in well, leaving any extra pastry hanging over the edge.
6. Spread the filling evenly across the bottom and slice the butter into small cubes. Dot the butter evenly over the filling.
7. Roll out the remaining third of the pastry and cut it into thin strips, approximately 1/2″ (1cm) wide. Carefully lattice these over the top of the filling, passing them under and over each other. Roll down the top of the pastry edges to tuck in the ends of the lattice strips and neaten.
8. Beat an egg and brush evenly all over the pastry.