When I was a kid, my mum and dad would take my sisters and I on holiday to various places around the UK, but York was one of our favourites and if we were lucky, we'd go to Bettys for our tea. Now, I know you're probably thinking that York's not very exotic, but we always had fun and Bettys Tea Room is legendary. It's wonderfully old fashioned, with servers in traditional black and weight uniforms, a pianist playing throughout your meal and it's beautifully art deco interior was endlessly fascinating to me when I was a kid. It's been a long time since I was down there, but periodically, as a treat. we'll buy my dad their equally legendary Fat Rascals and have them posted up to us to store in the freezer.
Fat Rascals are somewhere between a fruit scone and a rock cake in my opinion. They're dense and full of dried fruit and peel, with a lovely crunchy crust, but the iconic part is their crooked almond grin and glacé cherry eyes. Needless to say, Bettys is very secretive about their recipe (and rightly so) but I scoured the net for a few homages to them and came up with a couple to play with as my dad love them and their crooked little faces, so I wanted to make him some for Easter.
Here is the recipe I used (I doubled it) which was created by Tom of Gastrolad:
- Preheat the other to 180C.
- Start off by rubbing the butter into the flour and baking powder until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.
- Mix in the sugar, allspice and dried fruit.
- Make a well in the middle of the dry mix and break the egg into it, also adding that splash of milk. Now start to mix the ingredients and they will start to come together into a fairly stiff dough. If needs be, you can add more milk, but don't make it too wet.
- Divide the dough into four (or six), and shape each piece into a hemisphere, i.e. flat bottom, with a rounded top.
- Placed each on on a greased baking sheet, sprinkle with demerara sugar and decorate with three almonds and two cherry halves.
- Brush them with a touch of milk and place in an oven pre-heated to 180C and cook for 25-30 mins.
- They're ready when you insert a skewer or knife into the middle and it comes out clean.
(Note: the original recipe had allspice instead of mixed spice but my sister thought the former seemed wrong and the mixed spice smelt/tasted right when they came out the oven, also I brushed them with milk before putting on the sugar and decorations, because otherwise you'd just brush it all off again!)
So here they are! I made seven fat wee rascals - it should have been eight but I managed to incorporate the eighth into the others, I think once they had their grins they had a taste for rascal dough - and they're almost there. I should have used unsalted butter and they're a bit too crumbly so probably need more liquid but they tasted right bar that! Not bad for a first attempt and they made my dad happy, which as he's had a bug this week is nice.
Also, Happy Zombie Jesus Day! A.k.a. Happy Easter, though it will probably be known as the former from now on in our household, especially as I have spent my evening watching the Zombie dramas and films that the BBC (In The Flesh) and Channel 4 (28 Weeks Later) have provided for us on this Easter Sunday. I love this choice in programming completely and utterly!
I will also retrospectively thank them for the wonderful Zombie/Alien films we had on for Christmas and Valentines Day. Can we have Zombies for my birthday and all major holidays this year too please?
Link | Bettys of York
Link | Gastrolad