According to the Be-Ro website the story goes that ‘Thomas Bell founded a wholesale grocery firm near the Tyne quays and railway station in Newcastle in the 1880’s. 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 each of the two words of the brand name and turn them into the more catchy sounding Be-Ro.’ How interesting, in all the years I have used a Be-Ro book I don’t think I knew that, or if I did I have totally forgotten about it. The first edition was apparently published in 1923. The oldest book I have is a sixteenth edition which, after goggling it, dates to 1953.
This is my favourite one as it really takes you back in time. In this old edition there are no temperatures given for your oven, you are just told to cook in either a moderate oven, a moderately hot oven, or a hot oven. In the ‘useful hints’ section at the beginning of the book there is a segment about using an ordinary coal oven where it tells you – ‘with a little practice, correct heats can be judged by putting one’s hand in the oven’, which made me smile and would definitely not be recommended today. Under another heading entitled ‘A Budding Housewife’ it says ‘Doris was always asking mother questions, “Why do you do this?” and “Why do you do that?” until finally mother told Doris to read the Be-Ro Recipe Book. That’s why this budding housewife knows such a lot about home baking’. Another thing I noticed while looking through this book is that lard is used an awful lot. This is something we maybe don’t use much of these days, but I must admit that when I have used it in pastry or biscuits it really enhances the flavour and texture. We often associate Be-Ro with cakes and biscuits, but there are some really good savoury recipes to. –
This is an easy ‘Creamy Chicken and Garlic Parcel’ taken from the 40th edition. First of all make some shortcrust pasty by mixing 225g flour with a pinch of salt in a basin. Then rub in 50g lard and 50g margarine. Using a knife to cut and stir, mix with cold water (approx 30ml or 2tbsp) to form a stiff dough. Turn onto a floured surface and knead lightly. Cover with clingfilm and leave to one side. Next heat the oven to 200º and have ready a baking tray. Thoroughly mix together 225g chopped cooked chicken, 150g cream cheese with garlic, 75g chopped mushrooms and some black pepper to taste. Roll out your pastry to a 30cm square and place on baking sheet. Pile the mixed ingredients into the middle of the pastry and with the back of a spoon firmly press the ingredients together. Brush the edges with milk and fold corners to the centre sealing the edges. Brush with a beaten egg or milk and bake for 35 minutes until golden brown.