Ooh, these are my new favourite thing, another in a long list of cakey treats that I’d never heard of but had to bake as soon as I found out about them. They’re a traditional Yorkshire bun, somewhere between a scone and a rock cake in texture, and they’re called Fat Rascals. Isn’t that adorable? Actually, there’s been a bit of a to-do about the name, as a famous bakery/tea shop chain in England bought the rights to the name a few years ago, apparently while no-one was looking, so now everyone else who makes and sells them is supposed to call them Yorkshire Scallywags. “What a beastly swizz!” as they used to say in children’s books in ye olden days. It’s like a chocolate company buying the rights to the word “chocolate” and making everyone else call it “addictive cocoa product”.

I first saw a picture of these chunky scone-ish things the other day, when some friends of the family who live in England went out for a snowy drive across the Yorkshire dales and stopped for tea. They took a picture of a large speckled bun with cherries on top and posted it on Facebook. I instantly lost interest in all their other photos showing stunning snowy countryside and winsome sheep. I leaned towards my computer to get as close as possible to the bun picture and said out loud, “What is that?!” As it happened, their son was in Canberra this week, so I made some in honour of his visit: Fat Rascals for a true Yorkshire scallywag.

I recommend eating them warm out of the oven with a bit of butter on top. I found several recipes on the net and tweaked them to make my own. The biggest change was that I didn’t put sultanas in as I don’t like the way tarnies get swollen and bloated when they’re cooked. When I was a child I usually picked the bloated sultanas out of Mum’s bread pudding and wiped them on the underside of the table. (Sorry, Mum!) I also made mine gluten free, as I’m coeliac, and they worked just fine using pre-mixed flour. Here’s my Fat Rascals recipe:

  • 150g gluten free self-raising flour
  • 150g gluten free plain flour
  • 1 heaped teaspoon gluten free baking powder
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 125g butter
  • 150g currants
  • 1 egg
  • about 5 tablespoons milk
  • 1 extra egg yolk + one tablespoon of water to glaze the buns
  • glace cherries
  • blanched almonds

Heat the oven to 200C

Cube the butter and whiz it in the blender with the flours until it looks like breadcrumbs (or rub it in by hand if you prefer). Tip the mix into a large bowl. Stir in the baking powder, spices, sugar and currants. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Lightly beat the egg and pour it into the dry ingredients with about 4 tablespoons of milk. Mix everything together well and add more milk if the mixture seems dry. You want it to come together like soft dough. Break the dough into eight equal pieces and make each piece round and about 2cm in depth. Put them on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Mix the extra egg yolk and the water together in a cup. Brush the top of each rascal with the egg/water mix, then press two cherries into the dough to make eyes and three blanched almonds to make goofy teeth. Stand back, admire your work and laugh. Then bake them for about 20 minutes or until they’re golden.

They look even funnier when they come out of the oven, as the eyes move further apart during baking. Wait for them to cool a bit if you can, put the kettle on for a cup of tea, then spread some butter on a warm rascal and leave the washing up till later.