<div style="display:inline;"> <img height="1" width="1" style="border-style:none;" alt="" src="//googleads.g.doubleclick.net/pagead/viewthroughconversion/1028731116/?value=0&amp;guid=ON&amp;script=0">
6 ISSUES FOR £6 Subscribe to Yorkshire Life today click here

Bettys’ iconic Imperial Easter egg weighs in at 12lbs and is 70 cm high

PUBLISHED: 12:31 21 March 2018 | UPDATED: 12:31 21 March 2018

Lesley Norris, creator of  Bettys Imperial Easter egg, weighing 12lb, almost 70cm high and costs �250

Lesley Norris, creator of Bettys Imperial Easter egg, weighing 12lb, almost 70cm high and costs �250

©Justin Slee 2018

What inspires Bettys’ innovation team to keep producing such cracking Easter treats?

Bettys'  Imperial has a stunning pale green shell Bettys' Imperial has a stunning pale green shell

Don’t tell anyone, but the woman in charge of creating Bettys’ iconic Imperial Easter egg is not keen on chocolate. ‘I don’t have a sweet-tooth,’ said bakery product development manager Lesley Norris, looking nervously over her shoulder as if someone is about to march in and demand her staff badge back. ‘I wouldn’t thank someone for buying me an Easter egg. I’d much rather have a Bury Simnel (a special Easter version of Bettys’ iconic Fat Rascal) or our hot cross buns. But if I had to choose chocolate, I’d probably go for our hand-painted ganache eggs because they’re rich without being too sweet.’

It’s quite an admission for someone who has worked at Yorkshire’s most famous bakery for 38 years, where you’d imagine a sweet-tooth was a job requirement. But could it be that her fondness for the savoury side of life has actually made her better equipped for the job in hand?

‘I honestly think it has helped,’ said Lesley, ‘because I can taste our chocolate as a professional rather than as a fan. I can pick out and appreciate a really good chocolate, it’s just that I don’t want to eat a lot of it. Which, again, is probably a good thing, otherwise I’d be the size of a house by now.’

She joined Bettys as research and development manager in 1980 after training as a home economist at Salford College of Technology. It was a new role for her and for the company, who had already built a successful range of products and was now looking to broaden its appeal.

'The blossoms work really well with our traditional royal icing flowers to give us a fresh oriental take on spring,' says Lesley 'The blossoms work really well with our traditional royal icing flowers to give us a fresh oriental take on spring,' says Lesley

Inevitably, her role has grown and evolved in the last four decades and she now leads a team of product innovators who are constantly trying to stay one step ahead. In other words, when you’re buying your Factor 30 for your summer holiday, they’re designing Easter eggs.

‘We start preparing for Easter in July and have all the designs finalised by October,’ said Lesley. ‘It has to be this way because as soon as Christmas is over, we start our Easter production.

‘You also have to bear in mind that we’re working on multiple projects at once. We’re busy with Easter at the moment, but we’re also working on our Christmas designs, developing a new afternoon tea offering and planning next year’s centenary celebrations. There’s never any time to stand still; we’re always moving forward.’

One of the innovations she’s most ‘egg-cited’ about this Easter (the editor has rationed the puns, so you’ll be relieved to know that’s your lot from me) are a set she calls ‘egglets’ – a trio of mini animal character eggs (a pig, a sheep and a chick) that have more than a hint of Aardman about them, only they’re made from coloured chocolate instead of modelling clay.

Attention to detail is paramount Attention to detail is paramount

‘They’re already selling extremely well,’ said Lesley. ‘We can’t deliver them by post because they’re too delicate, so customers have to buy them in the tea rooms. Honestly, we’ve had reports from staff saying that people are taking them directly off the trays before they’ve even reached the shelves.’

Novelty items have become increasingly popular in recent years, with Bettys’ bespoke chocolate badger (not a phrase that comes up in conversation every day) now firmly established as an Easter favourite.

But nothing can really touch the popularity of the company’s traditional Easter eggs – made in the same moulds for generations.

‘The egg market is changing,’ said Lesley. ‘Some companies are producing very peculiar-shaped eggs now – some are like rockets and some have jagged edges – but that’s not our style. Novelty items are great, but when it comes to Easter eggs, we think they should be egg-shaped.’

The stunning pale green shell of the Imperial � and it�s smaller, more affordable limited edition cousin � is created using several layers of chocolate The stunning pale green shell of the Imperial � and it�s smaller, more affordable limited edition cousin � is created using several layers of chocolate

So, where does she start when it comes to designing a new egg? Unsurprisingly, next year’s design starts with this year’s best-sellers. ‘I’ll be looking round this Easter to see what everyone is doing and what trends are emerging,’ said Lesley. ‘We don’t slavishly follow trends, but it’s important to know what they are. I’ll also keep a close eye on taste tests in magazines and we’ll do our own benchmarking to see how our products stack up.’

And when that’s all done, she hits Pinterest, which is where she found the inspiration for this year’s lavish Imperial egg – a handmade 12lb stunner that stands at almost 70cm high and weighs in at £250. ‘I don’t just look at food images on Pinterest when I’m gathering ideas; I find fabric particularly inspiring too,’ she said. ‘This year’s floral eau de nil egg was inspired by Japanese and Chinese blossom fabrics. The blossoms work really well with our traditional royal icing flowers to give us a fresh oriental take on spring.’

The stunning pale green shell of the Imperial – and it’s smaller, more affordable limited edition cousin – is created using several layers of chocolate. Both while and milk are used to give it the strength it needs to stay upright and in one piece, with the final layer infused with naturally coloured cocoa butter over-lustred in silver.

Lesley has handcrafted six Imperials for Bettys’ tea room windows in Harrogate, Harlow Carr, York (both St Helen’s Square and Stonegate), Ilkley and Northallerton and will probably make another 15 or so for customers. Each egg takes a whole day to make.

‘We have customers who order an Imperial every year,’ she said. ‘I do sometimes wonder whether all of them are given to a loved one. I wouldn’t blame them if they kept them for themselves though. What a treat!’

Fortunately, it’s not just the lucky few who can enjoy a Bettys’ treat at Easter. There’s a whole range of goodies to choose from, including smaller hazelnut and almond eggs, bite-sized champagne truffle eggs, sugar-coated miniature eggs and milk chocolate bunny lollipops.

‘I think our Easter treats come boxed up with a lot of family nostalgia,’ said Lesley. ‘We have customers who were treated to an egg at Easter by their parents and are now doing the same for their own children and grandchildren. It’s become something of a family tradition.’

If you’re planning on taking a family trip to Bettys in Harrogate, take a good look at the person next to you in the queue. You might just see a familiar face. ‘You will occasionally find me lurking outside the tea room listening to customers as they look in the window,’ said Lesley. ‘When I see them pointing at the Imperial egg that I made and saying lovely things about it, well, it just makes my day.’

www.bettys.co.uk/easter

More from Food & Drink

You don’t have to overload on sugar to enjoy a sweet treat

Read more
Thursday, May 3, 2018

Ambitious plans for an all year round holiday retreat are still on the menu at Raithwaite estate.

Read more
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Join Grass Roots Harrogate on Saturday the 12th & Sunday 13th of May for World of Their Own’s opening weekend.

Read more
Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Join Grass Roots Harrogate on Saturday 19th May 2018 for a Royal Wedding Street Party.

Read more
Monday, April 23, 2018

This is your chance to vote for and support Yorkshire’s finest places to eat, drink and stay.

Read more

Ad Feature: Grass Roots Cafe

Monday, April 16, 2018

Grass Roots is an independent, family-run cafe, food hall and garden centre located between Harrogate and Ripon.

Read more
Thursday, April 5, 2018

Veganism is the food trend of the moment, but for some people it’s a lifestyle, as Clea Grady explains

Read more
Thursday, April 5, 2018

Clea Grady shares her favourite spots for a vegan meal in Yorkshire

Read more
Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Afternoon Tea for two for only £25 at The Garden Rooms at Tennants

Read more
Monday, April 2, 2018

Gin tasting is increasing in popularity across the country, we round up some of the best events across Yorkshire. Some of these events sell out fairly quickly, but the organisers do often host multiple events throughout the year.

Read more
Gin
Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Recipe from the Vegetarian Society, vegsoc.org

Read more
Friday, March 23, 2018

Try this recipe for an Easter favourite from expert Lisa Bennison, a senior tutor at Bettys Cookery School

Read more
Bettys
Wednesday, March 21, 2018

What inspires Bettys’ innovation team to keep producing such cracking Easter treats?

Read more
Bettys
Monday, March 19, 2018

From breakfast, brunch and lunch, leisurely afternoon teas and three course meals, whatever time of day and whatever your taste, everyone is catered for at The Garden Rooms Restaurant.

Read more
 
Great British Holidays advert link

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory




Follow us on Twitter


Like us on Facebook

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Yorkshire's trusted business finder

Job search in your local area



Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Property Search