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celebrating the best of british cakes feature
As a nation we love a sweet treat, but according to research, the types of sugary snacks that British people are reaching for have changed over the years.

According to analysis carried out by the NPD group based on sales in restaurants, cafes, pubs, supermarkets, department stores, and food ‘to-go’ sales on public transport, we’ve developed a taste for American-inspired desserts such as brownies and muffins, while sales of traditional puddings, scones and tea cakes have begun to slide.


Between 2014 and 2015, sales of chocolate brownies rose 72 per cent between, American-style muffin sales were up by 72 per cent and cookie sales rose by 18 per cent. At the same time, sales of traditionally British sweet items like tea cakes and scones decreased by 25 per cent.


However, perhaps kept buoyant by shows like The Great British Bake Off, consumers’ interest in cakes and baking on the whole is as strong as ever with a massive 406 million servings enjoyed per year, and we’ve charted the popularity of a civilised afternoon tea here on the blog before. We love cookies, blondies and muffins as much as the average person, however, we thought it might be nice to celebrate some of the best British bakes, many of which are not only steeped in history but are as easy to eat on-the-go as their ‘trendy’ American counterparts. Here are just a few of our favourites.

English Muffin


This round, flat, unassuming yeast-leavened white bread has been a popular teatime treat since the Victorian era when it was sold door-to-door. The Americans often claim the English muffin as their own because British ex-pat Samuel Bath Thomas set up a bakery specialising in these baked delights in 1880, but he had brought the recipe with him from Blighty. Sliced, toasted and buttered, washed down with a cup of tea, English muffins are a simple and filling treat.



Teacakes were designed to be a portable breakfast or lunch for workers in years gone by, and depending on where you live in Britain, you may be familiar with either the currant-laden fruit teacake or perhaps the plain savoury version too. In places like Yorkshire and Lancashire, teacakes are simply round bread buns that can be split and filled or toasted and buttered, whereas fruit teacakes are the sweeter version with added dried fruit.

Lardy Cakes


A photo posted by John Holland (@jiholland111) on

Lardy cakes, also known by names including ‘lardy bread’ and even ‘lardy Johns’ hail from the South of England. The counties of Sussex, Hampshire, Berkshire and Dorset all claim to be the originator of this indulgent doughy bread or bun. Lardy cakes are traditionally popular in areas with large pig rearing populations, and while lard might seem like a calorific inclusion in a dessert, it actually contains less saturated fat than butter. Lardy cakes are said to be a favourite at Buckingham Palace, and a regular feature on the desserts table at the Queen’s Garden Parties.

Bakewell Tarts


A photo posted by mscupcakeuk (@mscupcakeuk) on

The Bakewell tart was voted Britain’s favourite baked treat of 2015 and it’s hard to imagine that this Derbyshire delight could ever fall out of favour. Dating back to the 20th century, this shortcrust pastry tart is topped with jam and frangipane along with flaked almonds. The Bakewell cake is a slight twist on the tart, and is usually topped with an irresistible layer of almond fondant and that all-important glace cherry.

Rock Buns


A photo posted by @cakes_by_naz on

Long before they were namechecked in Harry Potter, rock buns were a popular teatime cake, albeit made with fewer eggs and less sugar than most. During the Second World War the rock bun enjoyed a veritable wave of popularity because this rather rough looking fruitcake could be made with fewer ingredients, which were hard to come by. When it comes to satisfying snacks that are easy to transport, treats don’t get much sturdier than a rock bun.

Chelsea Buns


A photo posted by Jen Rich (@thisisjenrich) on

Chelsea buns may look and taste a little like the American cinnamon bun, but they’re very much British born and bred. They were first made at the famous Chelsea Bun House in the 18th century, and found fans among royalty including King George II. The rich yeast dough swirl is flavoured with lemon peel, cinnamon and mixed spice, and glazed to give it a sweet sticky finish.

Eccles Cake


Okay, so the fact the Eccles cake is often referred to as a ‘Squashed Fly cake’ might put one or two people off. However, if you can get past the alternative name (and you should) this light, flaky pastry cake, filled with currants and topped with sugar, brings together tantalising textures into the perfect snack-sized sweet treat. It has a history that can be traced back to the 1700s and the northern town of Eccles, Manchester.

Welsh cake


A photo posted by Fred (@tendervegan) on

Like many traditional British bakes, these circular cakes made of fat, sugar and dried fruit were first enjoyed as a plain savoury scone, with the sweeter version of the Welsh cake becoming popular in the late 19th century. They are also known as ‘bakestones’, named after the cast iron griddles they were originally cooked on. They smell fantastic while cooking and can be served hot or cold.

Have we missed a local British baked hero off the list? How do you feel about the Americanisation of our baked goods landscape - do you prefer a British butterfly cake over a brownie, or do you think there’s a place for all the sweet stuff in our hearts, stomachs and desserts display? Head over to Twitter to voice your opinion on sweet treat trends at @BunzlLockhart, or share your thoughts with us in the comments below.


Lockhart Catering on 26 February 2016 4:02 AM

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