Tuesday, 18 February 2020

A Right Royal Rabbit Hole

You hear something on the radio, and it interests you, then a couple of days later someone blogs about it, and you decide you really should look this up, but you get sidetracked..and before you know it, you have fallen down the rabbit hole, and you end up discovering stuff you had not been looking for, and forgetting quite where it all began...
It began with Radio 4's Kitchen Cabinet.
The programme came from Bakewell, and there was much discussion about the difference between Bakewell Tart and Bakewell Pudding. Explanation here
On Saturday, Jean, a Derbyshire lass, posted all about the same topic- here is her splendid looking tart. She says that her Mum often made one for Sunday tea, and used her BeRo book. That sent me scurrying to check out my well used, stained 1982 copy.
You will notice that there are added comments- so many of the great ladies I have met at Church Teas use this little book. Gwen Toon - in Kirby Muxloe -advises soaking the milk before you make the Coconut and Orange Cake, and Betty [Dudman] of Ferndown added 1tsp vanilla to the Easy Fruit Cake. I think I put [Dudman] in brackets because there are so many ladies called Betty on Church Tea Rotas across the country! 
Then I started wondering, where did the name Be-Ro come from? It appears that Thomas Bell started a company producing flour, baking powder etc 150 years ago in Longhorsley near Newcastle. 
He called his brand "Bell's Royal". But there was confusion with another brand, so he shortened it to Be-Ro [and you thought Su-Bo, SamCam, J-Lo etc was a new idea]
And here is the other brand. Royal is owned now by Kraft foods. The distinctive tin has a Droste Effect recursive design.
The red tin shows a smaller picture of the red tin showing a smaller picture of the red tin, showing a smaller picture of the red tin...
In fact, if you stare at it for too long, it is just like falling down a right royal rabbit-hole. 
For £2.99 you can still buy a copy of the BeRo cookbook [here] now in its 41st edition. You can read the Royal Cookbook free online, at Project Gutenburg [here] This is an Americn Book. It does not include British delights like Bakewell Tart or Toad in the Hole - but you can find recipes for Penuche and Albuminized Orange, whatever they are!


  1. Now, that's the kind of rabbit hole I like, with a dessert or two at the bottom of it! :) Unfortunately, I've not had either Bakewell tart or pudding! Albuminized orange sounds like orange juice to which an egg white has been added and penuche is a type of fudge candy.

  2. Thank you for explaining penuche. But why would you add egg white to orange juice? Is it some sort of health drink?

  3. I have a collection of BeRo books, my earliest being the 17th edition. It's interesting to see which recipes have stood the test of time and are still in the recent editions. There seem to be a lot more small buns and biscuits in the older editions. "Maids of honour", something my mum used to make regularly, appear in the 17th and through to the 40th but are missing from the latest, the 41st edition. Presumably due to food fashion and the increased availability cheaply in the shops of such things.

  4. My Mum made 'maids' too. I wonder if the demise of the little buns was due to the rise of the humungous cupcakes introduced by Nigella and Co 20years ago?

  5. I know this isn't the point of the blog but really - Bakewell Tart is completely fantastic. Just wanted to say that :-)

    1. A truly great comfort food, with the cherry on the top

  6. Did you ever watch Claire Baldings "Who Do You Think You Are"? She discovered it was an ancestor of hers that had started the Royal Baking Powder company.

  7. I love a paradox!!!! (There's a lovely book called Flotsam (a great picture book to get Rosie- it is SO intriguing!) that has a wonderful paradox page in it (which is part of the plot!) I am fussy about dessert and don't like either Bakewell tart OR pudding! We did go to Bakewell last year and my friends all shared a massive pudding!


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