British Sweets

The British love sweets. Cut us and we bleed Pudding. The next time you hear the national anthem, listen carefully and among all this pomp you will be able to distinguish the word “cookie”, which has been secretly mumbled at least seven times.

We like the little squares of things on porcelain plates served one afternoon after a Game of Cribbage. We like puddings that steam like a juggernaut coming out of a Sauna, made with bulk fat, syrup and shriveled fruit. We like the sweet and crunchy things in the packages. It is no exaggeration to say that tea and biscuits are our real cornerstone.

You see, sweets for the British are a matter of emotions. Our climate and stoicism mean that we need sweets for more than just a sugar fix or an addition to previous classes — they are our national comfort blanket. There is also no room for subtlety, no delicate pastries, delicate sugar, Tiles or twists. No nonsense and no bells and whistles. So, what motivates us?

I was completely blown away when I found out how many of our national sweets are made from dried fruits. With the exception of those under the age of 14 who tend to keep them scoffing like dead flies, we are a Nation of Sultan scoffers, blackcurrant connoisseurs and fig players.



One topic that has engulfed thousands of hours of British debate is the pronunciation of the word Scone. If you want to sound arrogant, rhyme it with “eigen”. If you want to look authentic, go for “con”. These individual buns are so low in fat that they are quite dense. Always divide them and spread them with jam and, if you find them, curd cream. Store-bought Scones can be chalky; the desired effect for a homemade Scone is something with a crispy golden surface and an airy center.

Lard cake

A sweet fruit bread dough made from melted pork fat (lard), sometimes milk and usually raisins (raisins) and citrus peel, depending on the region. The dough is rolled and folded to leave a rather attractive 70s swirling curtain finish, and it is baked into a flatbread to be sliced and served with butter. The great dean of British cuisine, Elizabeth David, recommended turning the baked bread over so that the lard can flow in a strange stream, which is just one of the many reasons why she is so great.

Currant buns

Since “jumping on the cauldron” is a national sport, there is no shortage of sweet regional tea breads to accompany our beloved Arctic char. Almost all of these breads contain dried fruits. These include Welsh bara Brith, which actually contains tea, Scottish Selkirk Bannock and Irish barmbrack. These are all baked in loaves or ears of corn, and then sliced like a regular loaf. They are also sometimes roasted for breakfast.

Chelsea Buns

Rolled yeast bread rolls topped with currants. They have a slight hint of cinnamon or other hot spices like nutmeg and are baked in a donut-sized snail mold. They are covered with a shiny and transparent glaze. Since they are individual buns, they do not need to be sliced and one is more likely to be consumed as a Dessert.



Mention a trifle to a British person born before 1960 and you will probably squint, rock your tongue and start discussing Roy Castle. This retro layered Dessert is almost Camp in its multicolored impertinence. Its bedrock is a sponge, sometimes wrapped in jelly, followed by a thick cream base, a whipped cream surface and a scattering of grated dark chocolate or a cheese cherry. It is usually assembled in a glass bowl to show the layers in all their glory. Among the many flavors, the most popular are Sherry, strawberry, Orange and cherry.

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