By Keighley’s Mike Armstrong, an award-winning master baker with a big passion for baking...

IT seems a lot of us grew up with Be-Ro and it's always fascinating to know people's memories of their favourite recipes from the Be-Ro books, people who like me are still using them to bake with.

For most of us, our battered and torn and well-loved Be-Ro books were the Bible, and one of my favourite recipes was coffee kisses.

I naively thought at one time it might be fun to collect every one of the Be-Ro books published, but have noticed that they can now fetch a hefty price on eBay. Consequently I don't think my collection of four books will ever grow much more, unless I stumble across one or two in a charity shop somewhere. That's now less likely as charities are more wise to the value of things than they used to be, owing to their volunteers being more internet savvy.

People always ask me where my love for baking comes from. It made me think back to a certain Be-Ro book that myself and mum would use at least once a week to make treats for the rest of the family. There are lots of things I've inherited over the years but my treasured and well-loved Be-Ro books take some beating. My mother's Be-Ro book was around and was used throughout my childhood and was always a permanent fixture in our kitchen drawer. My parents married in 1956 and I think it was gifted then, maybe a birthday or Christmas present? Some of the pages have additional notes written in by mum, even so only a handful of recipes were ever used, mostly limited to special occasions and birthdays. The binding is worn but still strong and so old you can see the netted cover that holds the pages together. There are rust stains around the staples with sticky pages that crackle when you turn them throughout the book. It has clearly been used and loved, with some pages being dog-eared on a favourite recipe, but is very much intact and useable.

For me the belief that recipes are inspiration rather than the rule book just sums up how simple those Be-Ro recipes were, transporting us back to happier times. My Be-Ro book feels more like a photo book than a cook book. But remember that a reassuring way to know any books will be recycled and read by fellow book lovers alike is to donate them to a charity shop.


Makes 10
6oz/170g self-raising flour
3oz/85g caster sugar
3oz/85g margarine or butter from the fridge
1 egg, beaten
1 tablespoon coffee essence or strong instant made up with a little boiling water
2oz/50g icing sugar
1oz/25g margarine or butter, softened
A few drops of coffee essence
1. Mix the flour and sugar into a mixing bowl and rub in the margarine or butter to fine breadcrumbs.
2. Stir in the egg and coffee essence and mix well.
3. Form into 20 marble-sized balls and place onto parchment-lined baking trays allowing room to spread.
4. Bake in a moderate oven, 180C/160C fan/Gas Mark 4, for around 10-12 minutes.
5. When cold, sandwich in pairs with the buttercream filling which has been all beaten together to form a cream.