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Vegan Fat Rascals (Turf Cake)

A cross between a rock cake and a scone, these vegan Fat Rascals are perfect for breakfast or afternoon tea. They’re filled with dried fruits, warming spices and citrus zest and baked until crisp on the outside and soft inside.


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fig, cardamom and semolina cake

Those of you who’ve been following me for a while know how much I love all things vintage. Things just seem so much more intriguing when they have a story behind them, and recently I’ve taken a keen interest in vintage cookbooks. My most recent vintage cookbook purchase is the 1950’s edition of the Stoves Cookery Book. I thought I'd find just a handful of recipes that would catch my interest, but by the time I had finished flicking through the book I had almost bookmarked every page! One particular recipe that caught my attention was called ‘Fat Rascals’, I found it’s name quite amusing and the thought of a fruit-filled cake certainly tickled my fancy, so I had to try it! The original recipe isn’t vegan as it contains lard and egg, so I created my vegan version which I'll be sharing with you today.

fig, cardamom and semolina cake

Yorkshire Fat Rascals


Fat Rascals are a type of scone/cake based on a Yorkshire ‘Turf Bun’. They’re believed to have originated in Yorkshire in the early 1800's and were traditionally made with flour or off-cuts of dough, lard, dried fruits and sometimes fruit feel. Fat Rascals are still served today in England, more so in Yorkshire tea rooms.


How does it taste?


Imagine a cross between a scone and rock cake, crispy outside and soft inside. What's even better is that it’s filled with mixed dried fruit, aromatic citrus zest and warming cinnamon -what’s not to love about that?


Recipe Variations


The traditional recipe calls for a mix of raisins, sultanas and currants, but you can use any dried fruit of your choice. Dried cranberries and blueberries also work well. There is also a bit of cinnamon in them which gives gives the Far Rascals a subtle spicy warmth, but you can use other spices such as nutmeg or ground cardamom. I wouldn’t recommend adding ground cloves as I find it can sometimes give a slight bitter taste.

fig, cardamom and semolina cake

How to serve Fat Rascals


These Fat Rascals are delicious on their own, especially when warm from the oven. My preferred way to serve them is while they’re still a little warm, with a bit of vegan butter or cream and some strawberry jam.


How to store Fat Rascals


Once baked, let them cool down completely, then store them for 2-3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.


Can these Fat Rascals be frozen?


I wouldn't recommend freezing them once they’ve been baked as the texture won’t be as pleasant, however, you can freeze the dough before baking, and then when you’re ready to eat them, simply defrost the dough, shape the Fat Rascals and bake.

fig, cardamom and semolina cake

Fat Rascals Ingredients:


Here’s everything you’ll need for this recipe – consider it your shopping list!

  • Plain flour: You’ll need some white all-purpose flour to make the dough.

  • Sugar: You’ll need some white caster or granulated sugar to sweeten the Fat Rascals. I wouldn’t recommend using a syrup or sweetener in place of the sugar as it’ll change the texture of the dough.

  • Unsalted Vegan butter: The traditional recipe calls for lard, but you can use butter instead. I used the Flora vegan butter block, but ant plant-based butter will do. Using a block butter will give the Fat Rascals a light and crumbly texture. I wouldn’t recommend using margarine as it won’t create the same outcome.

  • Baking powder and baking soda: The baking powder and soda will give the fat rascals a light and crumbly texture. Lemon and orange: You’ll need 1 tsp orange zest and 1 tsp lemon zest to flavour the Fat Rascals.

  • Spices: You’ll need a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg to give the Fat Rascals a subtle warmth and spiciness.

  • Dried fruit: For this recipe I’ve used a combination of sultanas, currents and raisins, but you can use any dried fruit of your choice. Dried cranberries and blueberries also work well.

  • Flaxseed: You’ll need 1 tbsp flaxseed mixed with 2 tbsp water to create 1 flax egg which will be used as the egg replacement.

  • Almond milk: I've used almond milk, but any plant-based milk will do.

  • Blanched Almonds & Glace Cherries: The cherries are used to create eyes and almonds to create a rascally smile. These are optional but if you want to have your Fat Rascals looking fun and authentic, then don’t skip this step.



How to make Fat Rascals


STEP 1:

Preheat the oven to 200°C Mix the flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, sugar, baking soda and baking powder in a large bowl. To make the flaxseed egg, combine 1 tbsp milled flaxseed with 2-3 tbsp water a let it sit for a minute or two until it thickens.


STEP 2:

Add the butter to the dry ingredients and rub together using your fingertips until you get a crumbly texture. Then add flaxseed mixture, orange zest, lemon zest and dried fruit. Mix to combine.


STEP 3:

Add 3-4 tbsp almond milk and knead until you get a soft dough. Divide the dough into about 6-8 evenly sized pieces, then roll onto a ball and place on a lined oven tray, leaving at least 2 inches between each dough ball. Flatten each piece of dough with the palm of your hand so they’re about 2cm thick.


STEP 4:

Brush each Fat Rascal with some melted butter, then decorate with the cherries and the almonds. Use the cherries for the eyes and the almonds for the mouth. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown. When the Fat Rascals come out of the oven, they'll feel a little soft, but don't worry, they're not undercooked. Leave them to cool down for 10-15 minutes and they'll harden. Serve warm or cold with vegan butter and any jam of your choice.

Notes and Tips

  • I’d recommend you use the gram measurements rather than the cup conversions. When it comes to baking, accuracy is key, and cups conversions are never as accurate as grams.

  • Make sure your vegan butter is chilled when preparing the dough as it’ll give the Fat Rascals a crisper texture when baked.

  • When the Fat Rascals come out of the oven, they'll feel a little soft but don't worry, they're not undercooked. Leave them to cool down for 10-15 minutes and they'll harden.

  • Once baked, let them cool down completely, then store them for 2-3 days in an airtight container at room temperature.


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