Sat morn. I find myself on Norwich market for the second time in 24 hours. Daisy is doing her thing at Maddermarket Theatre, and I’m sitting at The Little Red Roaster stall having a cuppa. The spring sunlight is coming through the gaps in the perspex roof and I can smell the sausages frying at Tony’s Food Bar next door. A good place to write a post.
Opposite is the guy selling herbs and spices. Claire and I used to make a trip here every October to buy the ingredients for our Christmas cakes. I am unable to make Christmas cake without Claire, and so it hasn’t happened for several years. She is precise and organised and makes us weigh out all of the ingredients the night before. She cuts the grease proof paper with a 10p size hole for the top, and she gets us to soak our fruit before we go to bed. I, on the other hand, pour the sherry, and follow Claire around, doing as instructed. It’s a whole day baking extravaganza and there’s no way I would manage it on my own.
“Zut Alors!” I look up from my cuppa as the Herbs man shouts over to the French girl serving at The Red Roaster. “I can’t take it any more! Je suis fatigue. I need un café!” She laughs. I am smiling because I’ve just read the last line of Cat’s comment on yesterday’s post: ‘Do some more baking you lazy sod!’
Looking at his stall of dried fruit and spices has given me an idea: we’ll make Fat Rascals today. They’re a lovely Northern treat and Cat is Northern, the wrong side of the Pennines admittedly, but still Northern. I hop off my stool and buy currants and raisins double-bagged in brown paper.
Then I go mad, loving the hum and buzz of the Saturday morning market. I buy Guatemalan coffee beans for Tom; a huge artisan ciabatta loaf for brunch sandwiches; and eight rashers of premium smoked bacon. This is all done in the spirit of Cat: she loves good food, she loves to shop and she’s partial to throwing money around.
After a lip smackingly good brunch (thank you Pickerings butcher and Norwich Providore Bakery) Tom and I decide we deserve to lounge on the sofas and read the papers (get us!). We tell the kids they need to entertain themselves for half an hour and they do this with gusto, in a way that causes maximum disruption, noise and mess. They cackle in the kitchen over a mixture of vinegar, cinnamon and a whole bulb of garlic; then they start on foot painting, doing foot prints in different coloured paints onto A4 paper.
Tom goes in to put the kettle on and all hell breaks loose. There’s blue paint on the new floors, paint on the walls and green footprints up the stairs. There’s shouting, followed by sobbing in the shower as Daisy tries to get green paint off her legs and out of her hair. Tom gets the 1001 spray out, although this is not unusual, he has it out every day and sees as a remedy for all evil.
Time for a calming down activity with something nice to eat at the end. Fat Rascals. A signature dish of Betty’s Tearooms with a secret recipe that everyone would like to get their hands on. This is my take on it:
- 150g plain flour
- 150g self-raising flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 150g cold butter, cubed
- 75g golden caster sugar
- finely grated zest of 1 orange
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- half a tsp ground nutmeg
- 50g each currants, raisins, glacé cherries
- 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
- a little milk, if necessary
- TO GLAZE AND FINISH:
- 1 medium egg yolk
- slivered blanched almonds and halved glacé cherries
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, fan 180°C, gas 6. Sieve the flours and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.
- Rub the butter into the flour. Add the sugar, zests, spices, fruit and eggs. Mix together to a soft dough; add a little milk if the dough seems very dry.
- Divide the dough into 12 pieces and roll into balls. Place on a baking sheet.
- In a small bowl, lightly beat the egg yolk with a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of cold water to combine. Brush on top of the Fat Rascals.
- Decorate with three almonds and two cherries. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly golden. Serve warm with butter.
Happy Eating! X