Fat rascals have been around for a long time. Bettys Tea Rooms (they leave out the apostrophe), that beloved institution of the North (of England, that is), may be one of the few places a fat rascal can still be found. No, I'm not making disparaging remarks about tea room patrons! Fat rascals are tasty little buns, similar to scones, that go down a treat with a nice cup of tea. They are a Yorkshire thing, a favorite on the farm at the 10 o'clock tea break.
I have no idea how they came to be called fat rascals, but they've been around since the mid nineteenth century and are a popular item on the menu at Bettys six locations across Yorkshire. It's been eight years since I developed my recipe in honor of my Yorkshire grandfather (who may not have ever eaten a single fat rascal in his entire life, for all I know).
If I recall, the fat rascals at Bettys have glace cherries for eyes and whole blanched almonds for teeth, but I use dried cherries and slivered almonds because that's what I usually have on hand. And ever practical, like a good Yorkshire farmwife (or is that farm wife), if I'm out of whole wheat I just use all-purpose; if I'm out of dried cherries I use raisins.
If you've had a fat rascal at Bettys recently, do let me know how mine compare. I do like to be authentic (except in cases where authentic is not as delicious as it could be).
(Makes 10 buns)
1 1/3 dip-and-sweep cups (6.67 ounces/189 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 dip-and-sweep cup (3.33 ounces/94 grams) whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (4 ounces/113 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/2 cup dried currants
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 large egg
3/4 cup milk, approximately
20 dried cherry halves
30 slivered almonds
1 Preheat oven to 400 degrees (for those in the UK, Gas Mark 6). Grease or line with parchment paper a large baking sheet (I use the Calphalon 14x16-Inch Insulated Cookie Sheet). In a medium bowl combine the flours, sugars, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Cut the butter into the flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal. Stir in the currants, being sure to separate any that are clumped together.