Yorkshire Cooking: Fat Rascals

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Yorkshire Fat Rascals.

Yorkshire Fat Rascal cakes are a timeless favourite in the region, although they were only given this name in recent times.Fat Rascals 004

The recipe 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’.

Betty's_Tea_RoomsA Betty ‘Fat Rascal’ is a delicious cake, around 5” in circumference, studded with fruit, and infused with spices secret to the lass herself.

Fat Rascals sell, well, like hot cakes in their 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 local baker hereabouts who reckons he has cracked the genetic code to make a bun very close to Betty’s secret recipe. Having tasted both, I think he has got it spot on.


Yorkshire Cooking: Fat Rascals


Serves: 6 large buns

  • 250g self-raising flour, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon sweet mixed spices
  • 75g caster sugar
  • 100g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 125g mixed dried fruit
  • 150ml 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
  1. Preheat the oven to 200c’ mark 6
  2. Sift the flour and mixed spices into a mixing bowl and stir in the sugar
  3. Rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs
  4. Stir in the dried fruit, then add the beaten egg, lemon juice, cream/milk and combine to form a sticky but firm dough
  5. Divide the mixture into six equal parts
  6. Pat them into generous rounds onto a greased baking tray
  7. Decorate with glace cherries and almonds
  8. Coat with milk and bake for 20 minutes or so until golden brown and firm.

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.

They will keep well in an air-tight tin. But they are very more-ish, and the spice aroma, fresh from the hot oven, will, I predict, defeat your will-power to keep your hands off them for long.

Fat Rascals 001

Colin Neville is a retired university teacher, author of four non-fiction books (on education and local history topics), online seller of art & design-related fine and limited edition books, gardener, chef, granddad.He lives in West Yorkshire, near Ilkley. Currently working on developing an information database of Bradford (Yorkshire) born artists, past and present.

Author: Jackie Jackson

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