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Yorkshire teacakes

Sat, 18 February, 2023

Yorkshire teacakes studded with raisins are the epitome of a simple pleasure: toasted, with plenty of butter.

yorkshire teacakes

Favourite childhood treats

The best remembered childhood treats are usually very simple: ice lollies, marshmallows on a stick or bread with butter and sugar.

The last is my uniquely fond memory, even more so because it was a rare, sneaked treat: my mother was strictly health conscious.

Now if you were born in Yorkshire, your best-remembered treat might be a toasted buttered teacake. And very rightly so: it’s simple, it’s cheap and it’s immensely comforting, for child as for a grown-up.

The Weather Man, York born and bred, had a particularly sentimental journey a while ago when we were passing through a delectable Yorkshire town of Ripon. A city, in fact, amazingly: the third smallest city in the UK.

In that charming place, in a charmingly old-fashioned tearoom we were served an enormous teacake, sliced and golden toasted, with more butter than we needed, which is highly unusual.

The Weather Man was transported to his childhood and I marvelled how comforting simple things were, enjoying the warm bun with my excellent coffee.

teacakes from Yorkshire

What are Yorkshire teacakes?

And why do I keep referring to them geographically all the time? That’s to avoid any confusion with their slightly spivvy Scottish namesakes, chocolate confections filled with a biscuits and a marshmallow.

Teacakes are barely sweet buns, less spiced and less opulent than hot cross buns.

They come white or granary, plain or fruited, traditionally with currants and these days with raisins, cranberries or cherries. They are sold in packs of six in bakeries all over Yorkshire but not at famous Betty’s – that place is far too posh for humble teacakes.

They need not be snatched straight from the oven to enjoy because, however lovely they will be thus, the ultimate teacake is toasted.

toasted yorkshire teacake

How to make the dough for teacakes?

It is plain and simple, none of the fancy brioche nonsense.

Milk, a little sugar and a little butter (or lard, or margarine – this is old-school baking after all) are all the enrichments to the dough and it is easy to make in a standing mixer but just as easy to knead with some elbow grease.

proven dough

Rising in bulk for an hour and a half, the dough will next have to be divided into twelve chunks.

That makes a modest teacake. If you’re after a Yorkshire-sized buns, cut the dough into ten pieces. The former will weigh about 75g each and the latter – 90g.

Shaping the pieces into balls would produce buns not teacakes so each needs to be flattened with a rolling pin to a thickness of about 1½ cm.

shaping teacakes

Arrange them on parchment-lined trays spaced about 2cm apart. They won’t spread much while rising, but rather rise and puff up.

This second rising should take just short of an hour, ideally somewhere warm.

rising and baking

Bake, eat, toast, repeat

Just before baking, they can be brushed with milk for a discreet sheen but it’s not necessary – these are not showy fellas.

They are ready to come out of the oven when deep golden brown, and only get more delightful as they dry out slightly on the following days, and prepare to be toasted.

Take care when toasting though: they do go from ‘nothing happens’ to burnt really quickly if inserted into ordinary toaster. For the perfect teacake experience I’d recommend toasting them on a griddle, a cast iron hot plate or a large dry frying pan.

yorkshire raisin teacakes

More sweet bun recipes

Soft sweet buns with glace cherries, dried cherries and cherry jam. A little like Chelsea buns, they are rolled around the filling and baked close together so you tear them apart to eat.

Maple and pecan sticky buns, baked upside down, flavoured with cinnamon and cardamom. It's a rich and sticky, sweet and spicy bliss, best enjoyed warm!

Marzipan buns flavoured with cinnamon and cardamom. Homemade marzipan fills these sweet soft buns baked in a muffin tin. These are perfect breakfast buns!

a perfect tea treat

More English teatime treat recipes

Traditional, plain English scones: my best scone recipe produces fluffy classic scones, as big or as small as you want to cut them. They freeze very well though are really the best warm from the oven.

Classic Victoria sponge sandwich cake filled with fresh strawberries and whipped cream, is also known as strawberry shortcake sandwich.

Bakewell tart with a smudge of raspberry jam, soft frangipane filling, almond crust and a cherry on top. Gorgeous textures and flavours in a classic English cake.

old fashioned teacakes

yorkshire teacakes

Servings: 12Time: 3 hours 30 minutes


  • 300ml (1 ¼ cups) full fat milk
    450g (3 ½ cups plus 1 tbsp) strong bread flour
    6g (1 tsp) salt
    7g (1 tsp) instant yeast or 28g fresh
    1 tsp grated nutmeg
    1 tsp ground cinnamon
    40g (3 tbsp) caster sugar
    40g (3 tbsp) unsalted butter, softened
    35g (¼ cup) raisins
    35g (¼ cup) sultanas
    35g (¼ cup) glace cherries
    milk, for brushing


1. Warm up the milk to lukewarm.

2. Place the flour, salt, instant yeast, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar in a large bowl or the bowl of a standing mixer and stir. If using fresh yeast, crumble it into the warm milk and leave for 15 minutes to foam up.

3. Add the butter and milk and mix on low speed with a dough hook or knead by hand until a shaggy dough forms. Keep kneading or increase speed and mix for further 10 – 20 minutes until the dough is smooth and doesn’t stick. If it feels firm or clumps in a bowl around the dough hook, add a little tepid water.

4. When smooth and bouncy, turn the dough out onto a work surface and sprinkle the raisins and sultanas over it. Chop the cherries into quarters and add onto the dough. Knead gently, trying to incorporate the fruit in the dough evenly. Place it back in the bowl, cover with cling film and leave to prove and double in volume for about 1 hour 30 minutes.

5. Turn the risen dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Divide into 12 pieces and shape each into a tight ball. Flatten each one with a rolling pin till about 1cm thick. Place the teacakes on baking trays lined with parchment, spaced well apart. Cover with cling film and prove in a warm place for 50 minutes, until risen.

6. In the meantime preheat the oven to 200C fan/400F/gas 6.

7. Brush the risen teacakes with milk and bake in batches for 13-15 minutes until golden brown. Remove with parchment onto a wire rack and cool a little.

8. To serve, slice horizontally and butter lavishly.

9. To store, place in a bread bin or freeze. They are arguably even better toasted and buttered.

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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