The Yorkshire institution that sells 200,000 mince pies and 26,000 Christmas cakes each year

Tessa Waugh explains why Bettys, a Yorkshire institution founded in 1919, is the finest baker and confectioner in Britain. Photographs by Richard Cannon.

Bettys might be a Yorkshire institution best known for its tearooms, but, at this time of year, business rachets up a gear when the baker and confectioner starts producing masses of Christmas cakes and puddings, mince pies, and chocolatey treats for discerning customers worldwide.

Since it was established in 1919, all manner of sumptuous and finely decorated creations have been produced at the company’s craft bakery in Harrogate. Each year, Bettys sells an incredible 200,000 mince pies and 26,000 Christmas cakes in various designs, including traditional glazed fruit and toasted marzipan, along with, this year, a child-friendly owl chocolate cake.

Bettys’ founder Frederick Belmont was a Swiss baker, confectioner and chocolatier and there’s still a nod to his sophistication and finesse in the wares produced today. Having won countless plaudits and accolades, the company’s soft Iced Star Christmas cake was crowned best cake in the Good Housekeeping Taste Test awards this year.

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I’d love to get my hands on the Bettys mince-pie recipe, which has been perfected over 40 years and is characterised by buttery pastry and well-matured mince-meat containing the juiciest fruits, orange oil, spices and almonds. Throw away the packaging, sprinkle them with icing sugar and pass them off as your own – no one will ever know!