Favourite Cook Books No. 1: The Be-Ro Book

 

I thought I would start a series of posts on the cook books – and books of cookery writing – that I think are the best out there. I end the post with my favourite recipe from the book – Butter Tarts.

So many of you might be thinking, why the heck is the first one up Home Recipes with Be-Ro (or as it is known to me, The Be-Ro Book)? Well it is this book that got me into cookery in the first place because it was the one my Mum used when I was growing up. Before I was even thought of my Mum owned a bakery and so we had the luxury of having most things baked or cooked from scratch. This was the go-to book for all the family staples, and when I was off school on holiday and it was raining outside she would entertain me and my brother by giving us pastry trimmings to cut out. As we got older we chose recipes from The Be-Ro Book and cooked them with help from Mum. So I was essentially brought up on this book and its recipes, and it is certainly where I got my enthusiasm for cooking; I have been conditioned to feel at home in the kitchen.

The copy I have is the Centenary Edition, though it doesn’t say anywhere in the book when in was printed. I know that the Be-Ro Flour Company was formed in the 1880s, so it dates the book to the 1980s. My Mum has an even older copy this one, though the recipes are identical. Be-Ro still makes flour and Be-Ro recipe books are still printed today, these days of course you can go onto the Be-Ro website you will find the same recipes, which haven’t changed.

Well almost; the main difference between my copy of The Be-Ro Book and the modern version is that it suffers rather from a post-war rationing complex – most recipes ask for margarine rather than butter. Luckily shortbread escapes this, but buttercream does not. In fact there’s a lot of nasty margarine-based buttercream.

You are forgiven for not holding this book in as high esteem as I do, yet the classics are here, and they bring back great childhood memories. I also have to say it has really good basic skills teaching too, so don’t underrate it.

Many of the recipes are coming back into fashion, especially now that budgets are a little less flexible and the weather is cold and wet. Personal favourites of mine include a really excellent moist and light milk chocolate cake; its secret is the inclusion of evaporated milk and my Mum still bakes it. The steamed sponge puddings are excellent too as are the many tea loaves. It does fail on a terrible recipe for flapjacks that uses cornflakes instead of oats. You can’t win them all though, can you?

Butter Tarts

In my opinion these butter tarts are the best things in this book, though I have made a few changes to the original recipe. The filling is a mixture of raisins in a sweet caramel sauce that forms a delicious chewy crust as it bakes.

This recipe makes 12 butter tarts.

Ingredients

shortcrust pastry made with 8 oz flour and 4 oz of butter (or butter and lard)

1 oz butter

2 oz caster sugar

2 oz soft dark brown sugar

4 oz raisins

a few drops of vanilla extract

Roll out the pastry thinly and cut out circles using a pastry cutter measuring 3 ½ inches in diameter and line a steep-sided patty pan tray. You can use a tart tin, but I find you can’t get enough of the filling in.

Melt the butter in a saucepan, take off the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients. Add 2 teaspoons of mixture per tray – this should be just enough for 12 tarts.

Bake for 15-20 minutes at 200⁰C (400⁰F) and cool on a wire rack.

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52 Comments

Filed under baking, Books, Britain, food, General, Recipes, Teatime

52 responses to “Favourite Cook Books No. 1: The Be-Ro Book

  1. I say, you’ve been keeping this one pretty close to your chest for a long time! You’ve made me recall a flour-encrusted, fat-splattered copy of this in the kitchen of my childhood (77 departed years). Thanks, I shall use this with great satisfaction over the summer. I also have a 1960 Homepride book of baking recipes that’s pretty good.

    • I never used the Homepride book, but I think it’s great these types of books are still used. It back to basics, which in my opinion, is the best way forward…

  2. jan graham

    the first bo-ro book was produced and handed out free at exhibitions only 19 pages in 1923

  3. Lystra Mann

    I agree – they are the best books. Both my nan and my mum had a couple of copies that i grew up with and I use the later ones (edition 40 and 41) with my daughter now x The earliest copy i have is the 5th edition from the 1920’s. I have now have 23 out of 41 collected 🙂 Its fascinating to read the comments and how attitudes have changed.

  4. Vicky Miceli

    I have enjoyed recipes from the Be-Ro cookbook. Unfortunately, living in Canada, I am unable to purchase the book. My husband is from Malta, Europe and both is mother and sisters use the book. Suggestions on how I can purchase the recipe book would be greatly appreciated. I found a website but it was for UK only. Thank you.

    Vicky Miceli — vlmiceli@hotmail.com

  5. kerry cordell

    please please can you tell me what edition is the above milk chocolate recipe out of? as I have a very well used book and I need to replace it, many thanks.

    • I’m not sure – I know it was the centerary edition, so I think that makes it 1975. My books are tidied away at the moment as I am doing lots of stuff to the house. I seem to remember that i couldn’t find the exact year in the book anywhere… hope that’s some help..?

  6. We had that exact edition, In fact I just texted my mum to see if she still had it so that when I do a recipe from it for my blog, I’ll have a picture of the book..
    That brings back so many memories of my childhood..
    x

  7. Teresa shambrook

    How do I order a book

  8. Suzy1977

    For many years I’ve wondered when the centenery edition was published as it has no date inside it, but only just googled it today and found your page. I grew up in Australia using this book which my grandmother’s sister in Leeds sent her. It has travelled many miles and seen many kitchens and is now back in the UK where I am now. I just got it out today to make my Christmas cakes and how funny to see the exact page I’m using scanned in on your site. It is a wonderful baking book. I did wonder at the many margarine references rather than butter but now I know why! The Easy Fruit Cake on the next page is a brilliant recipe and has been a staple in my house every year. X

    • Thanks for your comment Suzy! It’s such a great book that is pretty much remained unchanged, ignoring changing fads and fashions and keeping its heels well dug in. I’m glad so may others use it too

  9. Doreen Porter

    Oh how I love my little Be-Ro cookbook, I was introduced to it in the late 1950’s early 1960’s at school in the domestic science lessons. Our teacher would select a recipe for us to make, but as our education progressed she advised us to get our own copy. Since which time it has been a constant on my cookery bookshelf – you can tell which one it is – it is the dog-eared one right at the front. I taught both my children to cook, using Be-Ro, and now my grandchildren are being taught by their parents using the good old Be-Ro. The recipes are clear and easy to folllow, with familIarity comes the confidence to experiment with the basis recipes, and that is how our family favourites came about. Thank you Be-Ro.

    • Thanks for your comment Doreen!

      This is one of my most popular posts – definitely the most comment on. It’s so nice to hear from people like you that use this book in the way they do. My Mum cooks from it, I cook from it, and i’m sure the next generation will too!

  10. I am in Canada, If I send you a postal order for 5 pounds could you send me a Bero book to Mrs Alison Heaps 74 Kintyre St. Courtice Ontario Canada L1E 2Y6 Remember these “Gems” from the good auld days.
    Many thanks Alison ………………………. ….email Medfleet@Rogers.com

  11. Have only just visited this site – so many people have memories of Be-Ro. I first used one in home ec at school – still refer to it loads of years later

  12. Kate Bunting

    I still have the (now very tatty) copy that my Mum had when I was a child. No date or edition statement, but there are some line drawings in the style of the 1950s.

  13. Barbarz

    Hi, is there a first edition Bero cook book you have for sale, they all have great recipes.

  14. I have my gran’s Bero cookbook and it is my bible! There is no colour in it, all line drawings. I remember her using it when I was a kid in the 60s. She passed in 1985. I kept her copy and when I got married in 1985 I wrote to Bero and they sent me an updated copy (which is almost identical) printed in 1982. Now my second copy is getting dogeared so I’ll be asking my dad who is still in the UK to order a new edition for me and another for my daughter who is now an adult. Best book ever!

    • Thanks for your comment, Datte

      It truly is an amazing book, but beware! The more recent editions have been a bit trendied up. Gone is the recipe for butter tarts, for example, and instead cupcakes and frosting. I have one from the late nineties that is pretty much the same as the original.

  15. Peon Yu

    You can get a copy from the Be-ro website:

    http://www.be-ro.co.uk/index.asp

    Dear Be-Ro lovers,
    For the 41st edition Be-Ro recipe book, send your name and address along with your payment for £2.50 (this includes P&P to UK) to The Be-Ro kitchen, PO Box 100, Blackburn, Lancs, BB0 1GR. Cheques or postal orders only. No cash please

  16. fff

    the be-ro book is really sop

  17. Janet Raven

    I have a very tatty but well loved copy of Bero Book from the early 1960s. I use it a lot and it is associated with wonderful memories of baking with my mum, grandmas and friends whilst a student at Aberdeen Unifersity . It is a classic!😄

  18. Pauline.

    Can u plz tell me were i can book 100yearscentenary edition

    • Hi Pauline

      Aside from ebay , I have no suggestions, I’m afraid, though do look back on this thread because there’s a message from BeRo about buying copies of the book. They might be able to help?

      Thanks for the comment!

  19. CRAndersen

    Have just rescued my mother’s copy that pre-dated the Centenary version… VERY flour and dough-spattered, but still usable. Hundreds of cakes were baked for church occasions, coffee mornings, bazaars, you name it in the 1960s and 70s. I gave my copy to a friend, but kept the Centenary version as the cure for homesickness here in Denmark!
    We can’t get condensed milk, but make the Milk Chocolate Cake with an extra egg and single cream. (And often double all the quantities – it freezes well.) We simply put white chocolate buttons on the top when the cake comes out of the oven, or a mixture of dark and white for a marbled effect, and then spread them gently when they melt.
    This has been a success at my son’s school years ago, as a present to friends and at our walking club… not to mention as a trusty family favourite.
    I make several of the other recipes regularly too…

    • Thanks so much for your comment. My mum has a very early version which is tiny and very well loved. I expect it to be left to me in the will! It pleases me that there is a sprinkling of people all over the world that use this book.

      I have fond memories of that chocolate cake – it’s still very good AND it predates the times of high cocoa solid chocolate.

  20. Ann Hoult

    Can anyone give me the recipe for easy fruit cake? I’ve had this book for years lost it in house move!

  21. Wendy

    Can the recipes in the wonderful Bero cookbooks be made using Canadian ingredients?

    • They certainly can – some might have to be bought in specialist shops or online (when i lived in the US, suet had be bought online I remember). Let me know if you need anything explaining

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