"...this time was different, and embracing what seemed like an impossible challenge, I decided to make my own in an attempt to match the efforts of Bettys' craft bakers!"
I generally get one of two reactions when I tell people I'm from Harrogate:
a. "You must be posh then" (Harrogate is 'posh Yorkshire'!)
b. "Oh Bettys, have you ever been there? I love it."
In answer to those questions: I'm not (that) posh and yes of course I have been to Bettys. I can't imagine there are many Harrogatonians who haven't joined the queue outside and waited a good 20 minutes before being ushered in though those welcoming doors by a frilly-aproned waitress (like Meat Liquor, there is a no-booking policy, although that's where the comparison ends!).
For those who aren't in the know, Bettys is your traditional cafe cum tea room: think doilies; a chap tinkling on the ivories; pots of darjeeling; scones; cucumber sandwiches; cream cakes and the like. There are six of them scattered throughout North Yorkshire and they are a real institution.
One of the things they are most famous for is a particular Yorkshire cake / biscuit called a 'fat rascal'. These are something akin to a rock bun or scone, and stuffed full of currants, raisins and mixed peel. Have one of these with a cup of Yorkshire tea in yer hand, a flat cap on yer 'ead and a whippet at yer feet, and you're in 'eaven.
When I'm back up north I try to grab a couple to bring back down to London, usually on the orders of my greedy girlfriend, who seems to be as obsessed with them as she is (inexplicably) with musical theatre. Given that I've just enjoyed an Easter weekend back in God's own county, you might have expected me to obey orders and dutifully head off to Bettys in order to grab a couple of rascals and perhaps a curd tart. However, this time was different, and embracing what seemed like an impossible challenge, I decided to make my own in an attempt to match the efforts of Bettys' craft bakers!
Well readers, they were a triumph. It would be rather immodest of me to say they were better than the ones you can get in Bettys, but they were not inferior, not by any stretch! So if you're too tight to buy a couple when you're up in Harrogate, or are unlucky enough not to be visiting soon, follow my easy recipe for a not too shoddy imitation.
makes four big uns or six small uns
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
60g caster sugar
1 tsp allspice
200g mixed dried fruit and peel
a splash of milk (plus more to glaze)
8 whole blanched almoonds
4 glace cherries, halved
- 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 two 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.