Yorkshire Cooking: Herders’ Fattie Cakes

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Herders’ Fattie Cakes Recipe.

High on the Haworth to Colne road, on the borders of West Yorkshire with Lancashire, stood an old inn: The Herders Inn. Like many pubs in Britain, this one closed a few years ago and became increasingly derelict (see photo at end of this article).

In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the inn was a half-way stopping off point for the cattle and sheep drovers who drove their livestock to market along this road.

The drovers would start early in the morning and would stop for breakfast at the inn. A favourite with the drovers was the Herders’ Fattie Cakes, and the recipe was a closely guarded secret by the landlord for many years.

It is a delicious and substantial bread-scone, made with ingredients that will cause vegetarians to shudder.

But the smell of these straight from the oven … Man!

Yorkshire Cooking: Herders' Fattie Cakes


Prep time: 

Cook time: 

Total time: 

Serves: 6

  • 10oz plain flour
  • 4oz suet
  • 1.5oz lard
  • Half (0.5) oz dried yeast (or fresh)
  • Half (0.5) teaspoon salt
  • Milk to mix
  1. Mix together the flour and salt, then rub in the lard. Stir in the suet.
  2. Put the yeast in a bowl with five tablespoons of warm milk and a little sugar (around half a teaspoon). Leave it in a warm place until it bubbles and froths.
  3. Pour yeast mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well; add a little more milk to make a pliable dough.
  4. Put the dough onto a buttered dish, cover with a cloth and put in a warm place for 30 minutes to prove (rise a little).
  5. Divide the dough into five or six pieces, shape into rounds, place on a warm, greased tin. Cover and leave to prove again for 30 minutes.
  6. Bake for 7-10 minutes in a hot oven until golden in colour.
  7. Best served warm - delicious!



1In Britain, the movement of cattle and sheep started in medieval times but became particularly important from the 16th century onwards, reaching a peak in the early 19th century.

Before the railways came to an area, the only way to move livestock from farms to market was to drive them along roads and tracks.

This was highly skilled work, often involving at least one drover, often accompanied by a dog. The animals needed to kept moving at a steady place and rounded up when necessary on roads to allow other horse and carriage travellers to pass.

The drovers would walk in stages to their destinations, staying in market towns on their routes where the livestock could be fed and corralled for the night.

Inns sprung up along the main routes to provide food and drink to the drovers and to the packhorse travellers who made their ways along these ancient routes.

Lost Recipes

3I am always on the hunt for food and drink recipes from Northern England, particularly Yorkshire, that have faded from sight and mind.

Many of these old recipes have fascinating names, like Stokos (a harvest drink made from oatmeal and lemon); Tatty scones (made with cheese and potatoes); Stanhope Firelights (an early flapjack recipe); Wet Nellie ( a pastry sandwich with a filling of cake scraps soaked in syrup); and Mary Ann Pudding.

I seek out old recipe books at jumble and car boot sales and ask elderly neighbours for their recipe ideas – often passed down to them from their mothers.

Many modern recipes are, of course, based on these traditional dishes. But there is something special about following these old recipes and particularly using ingredients readily available then, but less so now, for example pork or beef lard from a local butcher.

Using meat lard in this Herders’ Fattie Cake recipe does, I think, positively affect the flavour – I have tried it with vegetable lard, but it is not the same.

Vegetarians – Cover Your Eyes Now

I suggest vegetarians look away now – as I had one of these Fattie cakes today for my lunch: warm from the oven and split in two with a wedge of crisp smoky bacon in its middle.

What the hell, I’ve nearly served my three-score years and ten. And I can tell you, it was Heaven!

The Herders Inn, Yorkshire

This was the old drovers’ inn (now derelict) on the Haworth to Colne road. The Fattie Cakes recipe was a closely guarded secret for many years!


This was the old drovers’ inn (now derelict) on the Haworth to Colne road. The Fattie Cakes recipe was a closely guarded secret for many years!

Anyone want a warm Fattie Cake?


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.

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