Five days into the school holiday – of which four were the long weekend, where double parental supervision was applied – and we have worked through pretty much everything in the programme of activities I suggested, and now we’re lapping ourselves.
It seems hopeful that the dismal drizzle and frosty temperatures may improve as the week goes on, but for the moment, the tour of National Trust playgrounds is on hold and we’re sticking with the indoor activities.
Yesterday, I painstakingly wallpapered a shoebox to create a library for Barbie. I completed at least 95% of the renovations personally, as the project manager who hired me lost motivation in the refurbishment part way through, and I must admit to having concerns about the fruitfulness of the time spent. I’m not even convinced Barbie’s much of a reader.
Today, it was baking’s turn to make it to the forefront again and, nostalgic for our recent sojourn in the lovely Dales, we decided to try our hand at Fat Rascals, which I had greedily scoffed in The Folly, in Hawes. The name is hilarious, even slightly risqué, to the under-6 market and they are remarkably easy to make and to eat: you can have them from conception to plate in well under an hour. A winner all round. They are somewhere between a scone and a rock cake, a Yorkshire speciality of the wholesome breed of baked good that seems virtually essential on a cold, wet day.
Usually, they are made with dried fruit, with glacé cherries and almonds on the top, but we’re not devoted fans of a sultana and mixed peel combo, so I decided to try it with chocolate and orange. I used clementines, because that’s what I had in, but obviously an equivalent amount anything vaguely orange-y would do. I also put in the crushed seeds of a cardamom pod, but I’m not sure it made a significant difference, and they would certainly be equally nice without.
- 150g plain flour
- 150g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 130g butter (fridge cold)
- 90g caster sugar
- Finely grated zest of 2 clementines
- 1 crushed cardamom pod (entirely optional)
- 100g dark chocolate, chopped into small chunks (or use chocolate chips, obvs)
- 1 beaten egg
- 1 beaten egg, to glaze.
- Preheat the oven to 200°C.
- Mix the flours and baking powder together in a big mixing bowl, making sure there are no lumps.
- Cut the cold butter into small cubes, tip into the bowl and rub it between your thumb and fingers in the flour until the whole lot looks like breadcrumbs and there are no big lumps remaining. It takes a while. You could defo employ some child labour here, but give their nails a good scrub before, as anything beneath them will end in the cakes. (Retch).
- Stir in the sugar, orange zest and chocolate.
- Pour the egg into the mix and, using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix in until everything’s combined. You might need to add a dash of milk to get everything to stick together, but go easy, you don’t want the mix to be too wet, so you shouldn’t need more than a couple of tablespoons.
- Divide the mixture into 10 or so and shape each piece into a slightly squashed ball. Keep them as even as possible in shape and size so they cook in the same time. Put onto a couple of baking trays lined with greaseproof paper, well spaced as they’ll spread a bit whilst cooking.
- Brush some beaten egg over each one and pop into the oven for about 12-15 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
If you don’t have a pastry brush, you can scrumple up some kitchen roll and use this to apply the egg wash. If you want to stock up on some bakeware but don’t want to spend much, the Jane Asher stuff from Poundland is actually great.
These are nicest eaten fresh and still warm – and they went down VERY quickly with a glass of milk. If there are some left over, popping them into the oven for 5 minutes to warm will perk them up. You can also wrap them well and freeze, if you’re the sort who can make productive use of -20°C storage.
They are pretty delicious and good to make with impatient little people. If you try them, let me know how you get on!