Twice-Baked Cakes – Fat Rascals

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So much of Tolkien’s writing involves travel and journeys that it is quite natural that much of the food in his books is suited particularly for transport and long shelf life (saddlebag-life?)  Beorn’s twice-baked cakes are no exception!

“…he would lade them with food to last them for weeks with care, and packed so as to be as easy as possible to carry – nuts, flour, sealed jars of dried fruits, and red earthenware pots of honey, and twice-baked cakes that would keep good a long time, and on a little of which they could march far.  The making of these was one of his secrets; but honey was in them, as in most of his foods, and they were good to eat, though they made one thirsty.”{1}

The category of “twice-baked cakes” encompasses a broad range of recipes, from the Italian biscotti to English coffee breads to today’s recipe – a traditional biscuit known as a “Fat Rascal”.  In general, the purpose of baking twice is similar to that used when cooking twice-cooked french fries:  the first round cooks the food, the second is used either to dry and to crisp the cake, or to harden a glaze.

Twice-Baked Cakes – Fat Rascals
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 4-8

  • 1 stick (8 tbsp, 110 g) unsalted butter, slightly below room temperature
  • 1.5 c (200 g) all-purpose flour
  • ½ c. (80g) zante currants, small raisins, or dried blueberries
  • The zest of 2 oranges or lemons (or a combination!)
  • 1½ tsp. (7 g) baking powder
  • 6 fl. oz (175 mL) heavy cream
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tbsp. (60 g) honey (or alternatively, 3/8 c (75 g) of granulated or caster sugar)
  • Lightly toasted almonds, extra currants, and maraschino or candied cherries (for decoration)

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 400 F (204 C) – 425 F (218 C) if using sugar instead of honey.
  2. Using a pair of knives, cut the butter into the flour, mixing until it becomes crumbly.
  3. Stir in the remaining dry ingredients (except for the decorative ones), including the zest, and mix thoroughly.
  4. Add the honey and the cream, and mix thoroughly again!
  5. Either roll the dough until it’s around 1″ (2.5 cm) thick, then cut out discs using a glass or a cookie cutter, or shape small biscuits by hand.
  6. Place them on a greased cookie tray, and arrange the decorative cherries, almonds, and/or currants on their tops, pressing them in gently.
  7. Bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove, let cool for 1-2 minutes, then glaze with the beaten egg. Alternatively, you may glaze it with more honey!
  9. Return to the oven for 6-10 more minutes, until the top is golden brown and the biscuits flaky the entire way through!
  10. Let cool, then serve with butter, clotted cream, honey, or jam!

This is, of course, an amalgamation of several fat rascal recipes! Not all of them are twice-baked, but particularly if glazing with honey, I find that the second baking helps give just the right sheen to the outer crust.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit []

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