The proof isn’t just in the Yorkshire pudding

Fat Rascals (1)

We like to think we know a thing or two about food here in God’s own country and of course, top of the list is our own Yorkshire Pudding. This glorious dish, essential accompaniment to the Sunday Roast was invented by a canny Yorkshire angel who gave the recipe to a kindly woman to feed her children as she couldn’t afford meat. Now it’s celebrated all over the world.

But we don’t stop with Yorkshire Pudding, there’s a wealth of Yorkshire recipes with. Among these, parkin, curd tart, brack (a tea loaf), oat cakes, shortbreads, spice cake and teacakes all bear the title ‘Yorkshire’. Yorkshire drop was undoubtedly a forerunner of the French clafoutis dessert. It’s based on Yorkshire pudding batter mixture but served up as a dessert with fruit such as plums, blackberries or cherries baked in the batter – a fruity Toad in the Hole.

Towns across the county have been proud to lend their name to Yorkshire delicacies. Harrogate toffee, Doncaster butterscotch, Pontefract (Pomfret) cakes.  There’s a Skipton pudding and a Bridlington cake too. Mrs Beeton even has York biscuits in her book of ‘Household Management’ first published in 1861. And, of course, rhubarb crumble is best made with early rhubarb from the famous Rhubarb Triangle stretching between Wakefield, Morley and Rothwell.

We owe a great debt to our Yorkshire Grandmas (and Great Grandmas) who left us with a legacy of wonderful recipes. Building up their expertise on Yorkshire Ranges (what else?), many of them went into service in the early part of the 20th century and honed their skills in the kitchens of Edwardian households across the country, spreading their message about Yorkshire baking at its best, making scrumptious cakes, succulent puddings and tasty biscuits and crafting tasty recipes from simple ingredients. And rationing in the first and second world wars didn’t stop them either, as they made best use of seasonal food for jams and chutneys and disguised the reduced sugar content of cakes using a variety of spices such as cinnamon, ginger and nutmeg.

Yorkshire is now the centre of a culinary experience producing great chefs and great places to eat. We’re proud to say it’s the home of great baking. I’m very keen to preserve the legacy of these magnificent recipes so I have collated the recipes which I inherited from my own Grandmother, Lizzie Abson. They were written on scraps of paper and collected from her own days in service and over her long life of baking for family and friends.  Now I’m sharing the passion I have for the skills, smells and delights of home baking just as I learnt with Grandma to offer a taste of Yorkshire baking to baking devotees, culinary nostalgics and those new to baking. Better still, I collect ever more recipes as I go across the county demonstrating baking and giving talks.

So, where else could you find not just Scones but fat rascals which have been around in Yorkshire since Elizabethan times.  Take a look at this traditional Yorkshire recipe: 

Fat Rascals

Meryl’s Tips : Fat rascals are usually dome shaped with lots of variations with the dried fruit. I suggest you put in the dried fruit sultanas, raisins, currants, cranberries, apricots – whatever you like best.

8 oz/225g (or 8 heaped tbsps) self raising flour

4 oz/110g butter

2 oz/50g caster sugar

4 oz/110g of a combination of raisins, sultanas, currants and glace cherries

1 oz/25g flaked almonds (if liked)

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp nutmeg

Zest of 1 lemon or orange

7 tbsps milk or milk/water

2 eggs

1 oz/25g demerara sugar

 “Sieve the flour and salt and rub in the butter. Add the sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon or orange zest and dried fruit/glace cherries. Beat the eggs and milk and add to the mixture to make a soft dough. Roll out to ½ – ¾ inch thick and cut into rounds with a pastry cutter. This makes around 10 to 12. Place on baking tray and sprinkle a little demerara sugar on the top of each one. Bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes (425F, Mark 7, 220C).”

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