One of the country’s oldest family run bakers is appealing for information from Derbyshire’s older generation to see if it can pinpoint exactly how long it has been producing Christmas cakes using the same recipe.
Luke Evans Bakery has established that the recipe for its Christmas cakes has been used for at least 50 years – but the current managing director David Yates believes it’s almost certainly been used for much longer.
Bakery foreman David Bond, who has been with the business for more than 47 years, was taught the recipe by Joe Evans – the fifth member of the family to run the bakery at Riddings near Alfreton.
“The Christmas cake recipe was passed over to David Bond by Joe Evans, who told him that Luke Evans Bakery had used the recipe for many years previously,” said David Yates. “But we’d love to know if there was anyone who could give us a more precise timescale for how long the recipe has been used.
“I suppose it’s feasible that it could have been used for more than 100 years. We were just wondering if there was anyone who could give us any more information about the history of the Christmas cake recipe. Perhaps they remember their grandparents or parents buying a Christmas cake and trying a piece.”
Founded in 1804, Luke Evans Bakery, which is an eighth generation baking business after Sarah Yates – the great granddaughter of Joe Evans – joined the company last year, bakes around 1,000 Christmas cakes each year, ranging from large luxurious cakes to smaller round traditional cakes.
Some of its wholesale customers also have a long history associated with the Christmas cakes.
Both Rita Bowmer’s General Store, on Belper Lane End, Belper, and Costcutter at Newton, near Tibshelf, now run by Peter Smith and formerly trading as Smiths of Newton and run by his father Frank Smith, known as Chug, have stocked the Christmas cakes for more than 50 years.
“I am 58 and I can remember Luke Evans when I was a little lad and I know we have been with them for over 50 years,” said Peter Smith. “The quality of the cake is excellent and the decoration is excellent as well.”
Luke Evans employee Philip Tomlinson, known as Sam, used to deliver to Chug when he was a van driver. Sam too has a long history of working for Luke Evans Bakery – he joined the company on 1st July 1967 and now has 44 years service.
Luke Evans Bakery sells direct to the public from its shop in Green Hill Lane and supplies around 300 trade and wholesale customers across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, East Staffordshire and further afield, including shops, schools, delis and Pride Park – the home of Derby County Football Club.
Fully trained craft bakers operate 24 hours a day turning out breads, cakes and savoury products.