How you eat yours - retro cakes

  • By
    Rejina Sabur-Cross - Food writer

Cake pops, whoopie cakes, churros and of course cup cakes - it can sometimes feel like we're barely able to move for the saccharine tsunami of deliciousness that's flooded these shores from foreign climes.

How you eat yours - retro cakes

However, among these exotic treatlets, and quite possibly because of them, a bigger renaissance seems to be happening in our collective guts and minds. We're talking Fat Rascals, Black Buns and Gypsy Tart; that's right, we're talking about the return of the retro cake.

It could be down to the recession and the consequent yearning for rose-tinted comforts from an easier age or perhaps as Tim Hayward puts it, simply 'because the food in the UK is so damned good - even if it's taken us a while to realise the fact'.

Chelsea bun

He and his wife Alison are the proud owners of Fitzbillies in Cambridge where the famed Chelsea buns are once again rising in the ovens.

'One of our key hirings has been Gill, the original head baker who holds hundreds of old Fitzbillies' recipes in her head,' he tells me. 'I've been working with her on the Chelseas' and I can safely say that the secrets are fascinating. We'll be bringing back many of the old recipes and updating some where necessary but we won't mess with the buns.'

Over at Yorkshire institution Betty's Fat Rascals have become their biggest seller. A cross between a scone and a rock cake, these originated from the turf-griddled leftovers that were combined at the end of a day's baking. Product developer, Lesley Norris believes they're definitely seeing an upturn in the number of people treating themselves to these affordable delicacies.

CupcakesSo what about cup cakes? 'They're very easy for relatively unskilled people to make and sell as a premium item, says Scottish baker Alex Dalgetty. But it seems many of us would prefer a more traditional treat.

Every day Alex is up at 5am and in his baker's whites trying to contend with the demand for classic delicacies like Clootie Dumplings, Shortbreads , Black Buns and Selkirk Bannock.

Dating back from the 1800s, the Selkirk Bannock is a fruity loaf (invented on the Scottish borders by adding sugar, butter and sultanas to leftover dough) which Alex still makes using the recipe passed down through his family. He reckons the secret to making a proper one is in the lengthy (eight or nine hours) fermentation process.

So how do you feel about the Great British cake revival? And what's your favourite old school cake?

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