27 January 2012

Fat Rascals - A Yorkshire Thing



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).

Fat Rascals

(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. 

2 In 2-cup glass measure, combine egg and enough milk to make 1 cup liquid; reserve 1 tablespoon for glaze and pour the rest into dry mixture and gently mix with wooden spoon until just combined. 

3 Divide dough into 10 pieces, each measuring 1/4 cup. Shape each into a ball. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Flatten tops slightly. Brush tops with egg glaze. Decorate each with 2 dried cherry halves for eyes and 3 slivered almonds for smile. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. Serve warm or at room temperature with butter.

Note: To reheat room temperature cakes, wrap loosely in foil and heat at 300 degrees for 10 minutes. Cakes may be frozen, double-wrapped, for up to one month. Thaw at room temperature, wrapped, then unwrap and heat at 350 for 5 minutes.

20 comments:

Cranberry Morning said...

I have never heard of 'fat rascals' before, but I have seen Betty's Tea Rooms. I'm making this recipe for sure! They're so cute. I think the almonds make them look like chubby men with moustaches. Glad you enjoyed my post about England Barns this morning. Have a great weekend, Jean!

Jean said...

Yes, I thought of you as I was making this most recent batch. Anyone who loves Yorkshire as much as you do *must* make fat rascals!

Pundles Farm said...

Can't imagine why you should think I would know about fat rascals! A delicacy of Yorkshire and the north east, I know the term came into use in the mid-19th century, but don't know it's original derivation. Can you shed any clues?

Apron on tomorrow!

Gerry @pundles

Jean said...

Gerry, I have no idea about the original derivation. I hope someone will be able to tell us. But, yes, do get your apron (a Scottish friend says "pinny") on tomorrow and give them a try. You might also like my scones.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

HaHahaHa! Never heard of fat rascals---but love the name so will have to try. Love your non-perfectionist commentary of how like a good farmwife (or farm wife)you are practical--and use what you have if you don't have what the recipe calls for---or if changes will add flavor.

I'm not a scone lover--but my hubby is. Maybe I'll serve him up a batch of fat rascals--just like his wife!

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Jean I was looking for a place to share this on facebook. Alas I see none. Do you not want to share on facebook?

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

Alas I'm a liar. I kept looking and found the facebook sharing tool. I posted fat rascals post. Just love the name!

Cheers!

Susan

Jean said...

Thanks, Susan! I'm always pleased to have readers share my posts on any or all of the social media options, even though I may not have the sharing tool on my blog (simply because I'm sooooo low tech)!

Jenn said...

I've never even heard of a fat rascal before... well other than when my dad called my cat that about two years ago :) I would not turn them away though, if they are close to scones, I'm in. Can I order a few for delivery :)

Jean said...

I love that! Those words "when my dad called my cat that about two years ago" painted a lovely picture for me.

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

Yeah! Thought I was going to be shut out on comments, and even though I don't like/eat many biscuit/buns/breads this one appeals to me. It just looks like the right texture. I'm thinking if it was baked at too high a temp it might come out a little crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside. That would make it even more appealing to me. But the thing that puts it over the top is the name FAT RASCALS? Inspired. And Bettys -- no apostrophe -- makes it even better. 5 Cleavers!

Southerner said...

Absolutely love the title, Jean, Fat Rascals. However if I was to call any child I have taught that name, I would be hauled over the coals, reprimanded and most likely sacked Ha! Ha!

Have a great day,
Tony

PS Betty's Tea Rooms ( Betty as in Elizabeth. Do you use that form in the States?

Near where I live over in Richmond upon Thames there is a world famous tea rooms called The Maids of Honour. They too have their world renowned tea cake.

Here is a link.

http://www.theoriginalmaidsofhonour.co.uk/


PPS Actually come to think of it, the prevalant phrase these days in England is "Fat Bastard." I think that has got a, lets say, more biting edge to it don't you think? It's usually targeted at opposing football supporters.

Jean said...

Five cleavers from Sully? Thanks! Somehow I knew you would appreciate the name AND the lack of apostrophe!

Jean said...

Tony, thank you! Actually, the prevalent phrase in England is also prevalent here! In fact, a young friend shared with me a bottle of wine carrying that name!

Yes, Elizabeths here sometimes go by Betty. My English grandmother Elizabeth always insisted on Elizabeth.

The Maids of Honour has long been on my list of must-do-next-times. In the meantime, I must work up a recipe for the maids! Thanks for the reminder and the URL which I will enjoy looking at with my elevenses.

Abby Rogers said...

I love your blog, Jean! It's very clean, inviting, fun, and the photos are gorgeous.

Would you have any interest in writing a guest post for my blog, www.PictureBritain.com (I believe you've visited it before)? Every Saturday I post about British food, including fun facts and/or recipes. Please contact me if you're interested: picturingbritain [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thank you!

Jean said...

Thank you so much, Abby! I like your blog too! I'll email you about that guest post.

Charles said...

Haha, that name is awesome! Loving it :) They look great - they remind me a bit of something called "rock cakes" - have you heard of/tried them before? I feel like I should get back to my "roots" and cook more Brit stuff sometimes, because we do have some awesome things... especially in the cake/cookie division :)

Jean said...

Thanks, Charles! Yes, it is a great name, isn't it! I've heard of rock cakes, but I've never had them. I'll probably get around to them eventually. You make a wonderful variety of things; if only we had time to make everything that pops into our heads.

Anonymous said...

We live in such a pc world I am quite surprised they are still called "Fat Rascals"! Wonderful web site, by the way.

Jean said...

Thank you! And you're so right - not very PC of a name! Hadn't thought of that.

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