JAMAICANS ARE a passionate people, so perhaps it’s no real surprise that one of their most remarkable contributions to world cuisine is a bold, full-bodied cake that leaves you wanting more.
Rum cake is a delicacy with deep cultural and historical roots: the sugar, molasses and rum which make the cake so unique, rich and enjoyable are also a reminder of hundreds of years of Jamaican history, rooted in the island’s colonial past.
Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes are no different, made to a secret family recipe passed down from generation to generation, mother to daughter, brim full of juicy fruits and real Jamaican rum.
Agnes Viola Henry, aka “Vie”, was a strong Jamaican woman, a descendent of slaves whose ancestors worked the island’s sugar cane fields. Like many who travelled to Britain in the 1960’s hoping for a better life, she settled and worked hard for her family, but never forgot her Jamaican heritage, becoming renowned for her very rummy rum cakes.
Sadly, Vie is no longer with us. However, her youngest daughter Elaine was determined to mark her passing with a fitting tribute to her inspirational mother and Jamaican heritage. The idea of Vie’s Jamaican Rum Cakes was born!
Elaine was born in Aldershot, Hampshire, spent most of her adolescent years in Ash Vale, Surrey and lived in France for over 20 years of her adult life.
When she moved to the tranquil surroundings of the Lake District in 2019, she certainly wasn’t expecting to find one of the key ingredients for Vie’s cakes right under her nose, let alone a whole host of links to her Jamaican roots. Exploring her new home, Elaine took a visit to the coastal Georgian town of Whitehaven, discovering The Rum Story and Jefferson’s.
Founded in 1785, Jefferson’s is a family wine and spirits business. The company plied its trade across the globe until 1998. Like many merchants from Cumberland and Westmorland, including the Lutwidge’s (of Lewis Carroll fame), Jefferson’s had interests in the Caribbean, interests with deep-seated links to the ‘Triangular Trade’ (slaves, sugar and rum). Jefferson’s 1785 Dark Rum bears testament to that.
Jamaica and Cumbria have a shared heritage which links them indelibly, even to this day, with references across the island to these deep-seated connections: Westmoreland, Kendal, Carlisle Bay and Cumberland.
Inspired by her journey of discovery, Elaine set about working with expert cake maker Lisa Smith from Ginger Bakers, to craft a superlative range of cakes – some made with Jefferson’s rum – to honour her mother Vie, her roots and Cumbria’s shared heritage with Jamaica.
Happily, the gift of a Rum Cake is a token of deep friendship and respect.
Design credit: Claire Steele, www.lilcreativestudio.co.uk