Sepia Saturday – Seventy Years of Baking with Be-Ro:
Raspberry Cheesecake Muffins
It’s Saturday and that can only mean one thing, it’s my weekly Sepia Saturday post, where I attempt to bake my way through seventy years of Be-Ro cookbooks! For those of you who don’t know what Be-Ro is, or what I am talking about when I mention Be-Ro cookbooks, below is a potted history, as posted on the Be-Ro website – I think it’s much easier to let them tell you about the history of these much-loved and traditional cookbooks!
The Birth of Be-Ro
Thomas Bell founded a wholesale grocery firm near the Tyne quays and railway station in Newcastle in the 1880s. Among his top-selling brands were ‘Bells Royal’ baking powder and a self-raising flour.
Following the death of Edward VII, it became illegal to use the Royal name. As a result, Bell decided to take the first couple of letters from the each of the two words of the brand name and turn them into the more catchy sounding ‘Be-Ro’.
In the early 1920s, plain flour was the flour most commonly used. Self raising flour was considered a novelty – consumers bought plain flour direct from the miller and self-raising flour was only sold into independent grocers. In a bid to make self-raising flour more popular among the general public, the company staged a series of exhibitions in the early 1920s where freshly baked scones, pastries and cakes were sold for a shilling to visitors. These were so popular that people demanded that they had copies of the recipes so that they could bake the dishes at home.
As a result a free recipe book was produced and handed out at the exhibitions as well as door to door. The Be-Ro cookbook contained recipes to feed hungry families on a very low-budget. They soon became an essential part of a young woman’s education in running a home and feeding a family. Consequently, the cookbooks achieved their objective of making Be-Ro the best known flour in the North.
Book of generations
The first Be-Ro cookbook was produced in 1923 and contained a total of 19 pages. Traditionally, local women from the North were featured on the front cover and “Miss Be-Ro” became its trademark.
Forty editions later, the book has grown to 86 pages, and is arguably one of the best-selling cookery books ever with more than thirty-eight million copies having been sold. The latest edition is packed with even more inspiring dishes together with a brand new “quick and easy” section which even the novice baker can follow.
So, there is a brief history of the start of the humble Be-Ro cookbook and I am an avid collector of them……I have about eighteen copies, and my oldest one is the 9th edition, which I guesstimate to have been published in the 1930’s, hence my weekly challenge to bake my way through seventy years of Be-Ro cook books! For this week’s recipe, I have jumped RIGHT up to the present day, and I have chosen a VERY modern recipe from the latest Be-Ro book, the 41st edition, from which I have made a batch of Raspberry Cheesecake Muffins. You can tell this recipe comes from the latest edition, as muffins were, (and still are in my mind) little YEAST raised griddle baked buns, sometimes incorrectly called “English Muffins”, they are NOT English, but British and Irish. The muffins in question that I baked from the latest book, are what I would call Buns, or Cakes…….but NOT muffins! However, whatever you choose to call them, these were DIVINE and I WILL be baking them again!
These were weighed, mixed, baked and on the tea table in just over half an hour! Freshly picked raspberries from the garden were added to the batter and the addition of the cream cheese was a brilliant idea that made the muffins moist and almost like cheesecake cakes! I made a pot of tea and we had one each – the rest I popped into the freezer for later.
I highly recommend these little cakes/buns/muffins and I may try them with blackberries next time, I bet that would be great too. That’s it for my Sepia Saturday weekly post; don’t forget the NEW TEA TIME TREATS challenge is open, and it’s a GOOD ONE! Tea Time Random Recipes – A DOUBLE the Fun Cooking & Baking Challenge for September! My Be-Ro bake from last week was a GREAT historical recipe, London “Bath” Buns.
I hope you have enjoyed my weekly Be-Ro recipe, I am back on the fast next week, so look out for some NEW 5:2 diet fast day recipes, as well as my usual meal plan on Monday and many other treats and surprises! Have a wonderful Saturday, Karen.