Rachel Recommends… Getting your Great British Bake On!
Over the last couple of months, food lovers young and old have been on the edge of their sets as 12 British bakers battled it out in the third series of BBC2′s ‘The Great British Bake Off’. Something about this unassuming show captured the hearts of nation, including mine and it’s inspired me to share with you some of my favourite destinations for droolworthy desserts.
I recently had the pleasure of visiting the famous Bettys Tea Rooms in Harrogate where I discovered a plump, fruity, comforting cake called a Fat Rascal. Apparently they date back to Elizabethan times and are also known as Turf Cakes due to the fact that farmers would bake them on turf fires. However, the bakers at Bettys adapted the recipe (and thankfully the cooking methods too) and introduced the Fat Rascal to their menu in the early 80′s. My well informed waitress proudly told me that it was one of their bestsellers and that people travelled to Yorkshire from miles around to enjoy them. No wonder I thought as I let a big dollop of butter melt over the warm cake with it’s glistening cherries and sweet almonds inviting me to devour them! 2013 will mark the 30th anniversary of the Bettys Fat Rascal – the perfect excuse to indulge yourself!
If you can’t get to Yorkshire then how about a good old British Scone? Whether you prefer the sweet or savoury variety, there’s a scone for everyone and you’ll find them on the menu in pretty much every tea room and cafe around the country. They’re also one of the easiest things to bake at home so go on, give it a go! My favourite way to enjoy this Great British classic is with a generous helping of clotted cream and a big dollop of juicy Strawberry jam… just like they do in Devon!
Another place the scone is always at home is on a tiered cake stand filled with dainty sandwiches and fresh cream cakes. Afternoon tea is one of my greatest pleasures and I think the perfect place to enjoy this indulgent treat is Woburn Abbey in Bedfordshire. This is where the tradition of taking afternoon tea is said to have been created by Duchess Anna Maria, wife of the 7th Duke of Bedford. Woburn Abbey was her home during the 1840s and according to the present owners it was here she decided that it was far too long to wait between luncheon and dinner and that taking tea and delicate sandwiches, cakes and biscuits at 5 o’clock helped bridge the gap. I have to agree! Woburn Abbey offers afternoon tea for £16.25 per person. If you do visit Woburn, be sure to check out the on site safari park too where you can get breathtakingly close to the animals including Elephants, Lions and Rhinos!
As you may have gathered by now I have rather a sweet tooth so it’s probably not surprising that of all the mouthwatering cakes I’ve sampled throughout the country my favourite has to be the Kentish Gypsy Tart! I’ve heard that for most people growing up in Kent during the 60′s, 70′s and 80′s, this sweet treat was a regular on school dinner menus. Well, I only wish I’d gone to school in Kent! Made with pastry, evaporated milk and muscovado sugar, Kentish Gypsy Tart is comfort food epitomised!
There’s nothing like the lure of a local delicacy to encourage me to visit, so where next? Just thinking about the options is making my belly rumble… Bakewell, Chorley, Kendal, Chelsea, Eccles…
So what’s your favourite Great British dessert and where should I try it?
All photos by Rachel Kershaw.
About Rachel Kershaw
Rachel Kershaw is 31 and lives in Newcastle Upon Tyne but is originally from Rochdale. With parents who have never even owned passports, it was inevitable that Rachel would fall in love with holidays in Britain. It was her genuine passion that saw her win the opportunity to be VisitEngland’s Fan in a Van in summer 2012 – an adventure that involved ten weeks on the road in a vintage VW camper blogging about everything from bungee jumping, hot air ballooning and surfing to visiting museums, zoos and numerous British eateries! What a lucky lady!