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Fat Rascals

Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cumbria, Durham, Northumberland

Large (c5ins diameter) very rich soda-raised flattened buns made from wheatflour with candied peel, sugar and cream. Usually decorated on top with glace cherry slices and nuts. A type of Turf Cake or 'Pan and Cover Cake'.

Fat Rascals as famously supplied by Betty's Tearooms

The original source of this receipt isn't known. Can you help?

Fat Rascals
2 oz lard
2 oz butter
10 oz plain flour
3 oz currants
2 oz candied mixed peel
1 heaped tsp baking powder
3 oz caster sugar
6 oz whipping cream, slightly soured
glace cherries and blanched almond, for decoration

Rub the fat into flour, add the dry ingredients and mix with the cream to a stiff paste. Roll out to ¾ inch thickness and cut into rounds. Decorate the surface with a cherry and two or thre almonds. Brush with milk. Bake at 425 °F / Gas 7 on a floured sheet for 10-15 minutes.

The origin of the name is obscure, it is known in this context at least since the 1855 'Glossary of Yorkshire Words and Phrases Collected in Whitby and the Neighbourhood' of 1855 where the definition of 'Spice Cake' is given as; "tea cakes with currants as well as cakes more generally, known as plum cakes for which this quarter is famous. The tea cakes made rich with butter and cream are called fat rascals."

The Athenaeum Magazine of 1860 has a baffled correspondent asking; "During a recent visit to Yorkshire I was puzzled by a charge made in a bill for Fat Rascals till I discovered as many of your readers are already aware they are a very agreeable species of tea cake. Can it be to these that Shakespeare alludes in the Fourth Part II act iv scene iv Falstaff...?"

The usage in Shakespeare's Henry IV part II is...
"FALSTAFF. You make fat rascals, Mistress Doll.
DOLL. I make them! Gluttony and diseases make them: I make them not."
... which is more possibly a vague attempt at a joke on an old use of the word 'rascal' meaning an unusually thin animal, Mistress Doll's cooking being enough to make the skinniest creature fat.

The 1859 short story 'Mother's First Loger' in Charles Dicken's 'Household Words' magazine has: "You might go across to the baker's too," I whispered, when I got her into the passage, "and ask if they've any fresh-baked fat rascals. Your missus is very fond of fat rascals." ... "we used to have cakes something of the same kind at home, when I was a girl, but they culled them singing hinnies. They are famous at Saltburn for their fat rascals.""

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