Yorkshire Fat Rascals are a favourite in the region. The basic recipe idea goes back to the 15th century and is based on a Yorkshire ‘turf bun’, so called because they were often baked on a griddle over a turf fire at the end of the cooking day.
Left-over bits of dough and lard were squashed together with honey and fruit and baked into a satisfying and substantial flat cake.
However, in 1983, the Yorkshire firm, Betty’s (and her famous tea rooms) put their own twist on the basic recipe and labelled it a ‘Fat Rascal’.
A Betty’s version of a ‘Fat Rascal’ is a delicious cake, around 4-5 inches in circumference, studded with fruit, and infused with spices secret to the ‘Betty’ herself.
Fat Rascals sell, well, like hot cakes in Betty’s cafés, and people queue out the door at one of the Betty tearooms in Ilkley, Harrogate, and York to sit in genteel surroundings, sup their Yorkshire tea like civilised folk do, scoff their Fat Rascals, and listen to the gentle strains of the pianist in the corner. It’s a right posh treat.
Anyway, there is a Keighley-based baker who reckons he has cracked the genetic code to make a bun very close to Betty’s trademarked recipe. Having tasted both, I think he has got it spot on.
- 8oz/225g self-raising flour, sifted
- 1 teaspoon sweet mixed spices
- 3oz/75g caster sugar
- 4oz/113g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
- 5oz/125g mixed dried fruit
- 150ml/5 fl oz double cream, milk, or crème fresh (I used half milk/half cream)
- I teaspoon lemon juice
- Ingredients for decoration (almonds and glace cherries)
- I beaten egg
- Preheat the oven to 200c, mark 6
- Sift the flour and mixed spices into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar
- Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
- Stir in the dried fruit, then add the beaten egg, lemon juice, cream/milk and combine to form a sticky but firm dough
- Divide the mixture into six equal parts
- Pat them into generous rounds onto a greased baking tray
- Decorate with glace cherries and almonds
- Coat with milk and bake for 20 minutes or so until golden brown and firm.
They are delicious warm, split in two and coated with butter. Let the butter soak in and gobble it up with a lovely mug of Yorkshire tea.
Source: Baker Mike, ‘Keighley News’ see Baker Mike
8 Responses to Turf Buns (‘Fat Rascals’)
What do you mean by “sweet mixed spices” ???
Do you mean like what I’d use in a Christmas Fruity Cake? (equal parts of allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, mace, cloves, ginger, coriander, cardamom??)
Yes. Mixed spice of the type you would use in a Christmas cake.
Great recipe BUT 150ml of liquid makes my dough too “soft”. I suggest trying 100ml of cream/milk and adding a little more IF necessary.
These are very nice but can’t quite be authentic. There is a sign in Betty’s cafe saying that their Rascals are made with currants and CITRUS PEEL. Mixed fruit instead of just currants is fine but adding orange/lemon zest makes a difference. I add zest of one large orange to this recipe.
There is a sign in the window of Betty’s cafe saying that their Rascals contain citrus peel.
It also says that they make theirs with just currants instead of mixed fruit.
I add the zest of one large orange and it makes a difference.
Mixed dried fruit mixture often contains peel, and the lemon juice in the recipe would add to the citrus taste. But adding additional zest of orange and/or lemon sounds good to me.
“However, in 1983, the Yorkshire firm, Betty’s (and her famous tea rooms) put their own twist on the basic recipe and labelled it a ‘Fat Rascal’.” Isn’t correct at all! I’ve got a recipe book from 1950 with fat rascals with that name in it. You can also find recipes and mentions of the name “fat rascal” in 19th century and early 20th century newspapers on the British Newspaper Archive. So Bettys didn’t come up with name in the 1980s.
Betty’s trademarked the name in 1983 for their own ingredients twist that they gave to the basic recipe idea, which originates in the 15th century.