Pasty Barm: Stodge Happy Bolton Delicacy is Food

Carrs Pasties with a pasty barm
A pasty barm. Thanks to Carrs Pasties for the imagery.

The pasty is a mighty comfort food smack of pastry, but the idea of jamming more carbs around it is madness. Madness!

Exactly as insane as, for example, creating a Pot Noodle Sandwich.

But the pasty barm does exist. And we’re here to document why it does and whether you should eat it or not.

What’s a Pasty Barm?

The pasty barm is a “elicacy” from Bolton of Greater Manchester. It’s a buttered up barm cake with a pasty as its filling.

The dish also goes by the name of the pastie barm cake, pastie flour cake, and the Wigan kebab.

Now, we’ve now consumed this dish before. But we can imagine what it tastes like as we’ve enjoyed the odd chip butty over the years.

But as for a pasty as a sandwich… yeah, obviously filling. But just a big and heearty carbohydrate hit.

So, be prepared to be bloated after this one.

But you can find it pretty much all over the North West of England, mainly in Lancashire and Greater Manchester. It’s in Bolton where Carrs Pasties thrives.

Carrs has been around since 1938 and continues to go from strength to strength as a pasty specialist. Of the pasty barm, it states:

“A pasty barm (bap, cob, barm cake) is a true Bolton delicacy. It’s something that confuses people who aren’t from Bolton – until they try it and realise that although it is double carbs and probably a little bit of a weird combo – it’s delicious. Now, there are many combinations for pasty barms – do you go for our original meat and potato pasty? Do you spice it up a little with our cheese and jalapeño pasty or do you keep it simple with a cheese or steak pasty? Then of course, there’s the condiments – salad cream, ketchup, mayo, butter? The choice is yours.”

The choice is, indeed, yours. For example, you can get mushy peas (“Manchester caviar”) into the act here. And gravy! If that’s your type of thing.

A more perfect image of Northern English cuisine there does not exist. Do you want a flake with that, love? Ta!

What’s the History of the Pasty Barm Cake?

What’s clear is the dish has been around since at least the 1950s, although specifics are rather vague here.

The only information we can find is the pasty barm was invented by schoolboys in Bolton circa 1950.

Why? Well, like dishes such as fish & chips it’s cheap and filling.

As with many of these stodgy comfort foods we’ve covered in this British food history feature of ours, people up north eat them because they’re cost-effective.

Basically, Northerners tend to be poor and living on a tight budget. So they head for happy, hearty, and traditional foodstuffs to keep them full. Reet proper!

How to Make a Pasty Barm?

It’s Jamie Oliver… but it’s not Jamie Oliver (to the rescue). Because to make a pasty barm, you first need a pasty.

Then you need to get a barm. And you insert the two together for the end result.

Maybe get some ketchup or other spread/sauce into the barm cake as well, otherwise it could be a bit on the dry side of things.

Dispense with some gibberish!

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