Bonny Marys are not an anaemic version of Bloody Mary, although maybe that would be a good name for an alcohol free version – otherwise known as tomato juice! To explain, here is what Janet Murray told her radio audience in the 1950’s or 60’s – I can’t find out exactly when she was on BBC Scotland’s Morning Call programme – but here is what she says:
You know the kind of fruit cakes I mean – a fruity mixture baked between sheets of pastry. There are various names for them according to the district.
This recipe comes from Elgin, where they used to be baked in small rounds and slashed with three strokes of a knife and they are known as ‘sewers’. In Angus they are sometimes cut in fingers and called ‘bonny Marys’. Some of them you will know as fly cemeteries, and some as Highland fruit cakes.
For the short crust pastry: ½ lb plain flour; 4 oz butter; 1 oz lard; pinch of salt; ½ tsp baking powder.
For the filling: 1 oz butter; 4 oz syrup; 4 oz castor sugar; ¼ tsp each cinnamon, ginger and mixed spice; pinch of salt; 4 oz each of currants, raisins, and sultanas.
First make a good short-crust paste with the flour, butter, lard, salt and baking powder. Make a firm dough with cold water, and divide the dough equally in two pieces. Roll out the two pieces the same size.
Now make the filling. Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan. Mix the castor sugar, cinnamon, ginger, mixed spice and the pinch of salt. Put this in the pan, and then add the currants, raisins, and sultanas. Mix well and let it cool.
Spread this over one of your two pieces of paste, wet the edges with cold water, and put the other piece of paste on top. Fit it neatly on, pressing the edges firmly. Dab all over with a fork then brush lightly with milk. Dust freely with castor sugar and bake in a moderate oven (400 degrees) until it is a pale golden brown. This takes about 30 minutes (I like to see the fruit juice bubbling through the little holes). Cut in squares or fingers before the pastry cools.
400 degrees F, by the way is equivalent to 200 C, gas mark 6, which I would have said was a hottish oven, but Janet knows best! This recipe sounds very like a version of Eccles or Chorley cakes, the fruit within pastry, or even Garibaldi biscuits – I think the fly cemetery reference made me thing of them as they are also known as dead-fly biscuits! It reminds me too of Coventry god cakes, which are the most crumbly, flaky, fruity, yum you can imagine!