Traditional English Meals and Foods – Part 2

Penny W-TStarred Page By Penny W-T, 16th Jun 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Reviews>Food

Many of us have a ‘sweet tooth’ and can be tempted to try all types of cakes and pastries when on holiday, or even when at home. So join me on a quick sprint around England and see some of the temptations you can discover within our various regions . . . . .

Regional items - Sweet Pastries and Cakes

We are going to tour around in an haphazard way, keeping to an alphabetical approach to our delicacies, rather than a geographical map. Of course I can’t cover all the regions in one article, so I have selected the more well known cakes and pastries (and a couple of other treats) to tempt your palate.
Our first stop is at the town of Bakewell in Derbyshire. I spent a year in Derbyshire during my ‘studying’ years, and this is a town well worth visiting. It is a Peak District town, so the surrounding environment is both picturesque and inspiring countryside. Now, as for sampling the Bakewell Tart, which is a sweet delicacy, there are several places in the town that will provide the opportunity to savour, or purchase for later enjoyment, the traditional local tart. Try the Bakewell Pudding Parlour, the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop or the Bakewell Tart Shop cafe. The "traditional" tart has a shortcrust pastry case, layered with jam and a syrup, egg and ground almond filling.

On the Road . . . .

Then we can nip down the M6 and M5 motorways to the beautiful city of Bath. Here the sightseeing is so awesome – it has both Roman and Georgian architectures that are breathtaking (It is a World Heritage Site) but it has loads of cafes and restaurants where you will be able to sit and rest your feet and try the renowned Bath Bun. This is a rich, round sweet roll that has a lump of sugar baked in the bottom and more crushed sugar sprinkled on top after baking. Variations to these basic ingredients can include candied fruit peel, currants or larger raisins or sultanas. With all that sugar content, I (as a slightly diabetically inclined person) would have to avoid the temptation to over indulge in these delicious items. But if you are on holiday or just enjoying a day out exploring – leave the diet at home and enjoy the Bath Bun, if only for this day.
Having been spellbound by the Roman Baths, and the Georgian Crescent and Circus of houses, we could then nip across the M4 motorway to the grand metropolis that is London, or more precisely to Chelsea, to sample the Chelsea Bun. This is a type of currant bun that was first created in the 18th century at the Bun House in Chelsea, where, it is claimed, various members of the Royal family were known to frequent. The Bun house was demolished in 1839, but fortunately the bun has continued. It is made of a rich yeast dough flavoured with lemon peel, cinnamon or a sweet spice mixture. Before it is rolled into a square spiral shape the dough is spread with a mixture of currants, brown sugar and butter. After cooking, the Chelsea bun is glazed with cold water and sugar, it is glazed while still hot so the water evaporates and leaves a sticky sugar glaze, making the bun much sweeter.
Again, one not to be over-indulged with all that sugar, but then who said sweet cakes and pastries were weight or figure conscious? Most originated in historic periods when there was not the constant focus on figure.

. . . . Into Lancashire

Back on the road again and this time travel the M1 and M6 motorways back to the north where we visit Chorley, in Lancashire, to try their Chorley Cakes.
These are flattened, fruit-filled pastry cakes, traditionally associated with this town, although they are a close relative of the more widely known Eccles cake, which will be mentioned below, There are some significant differences. The Chorley cake is significantly less sweet than its Eccles cousin, and is commonly eaten with a light spread of butter on top, and perhaps a slice of Lancashire cheese on the side. A Chorley cake is made using currants, sandwiched between two layers of unsweetened shortcrust pastry. Some sugar can be added to the fruit, or sweeter raisins or sultanas used instead of currants, but it is the currants that give this cake its local name – it is often referred to as Fly Pie.
Just down the road now and we come to the town of Eccles, part of Greater Manchester to compare their cake with that of their neighbour -Chorley

The Eccles cake is a small, round cake, again filled with currants and made from flaky pastry with butter, sometimes topped with demerara sugar. It is not known who invented the recipe, but a James Birch is credited with being the first person to sell Eccles cakes on a commercial basis, which he sold from his shop at the corner of Vicarage Road and St Mary’s Road (now known as Church Street) in the town centre, in 1793.

Whilst in Manchester, make sure you try the traditional Manchester tart.
This is a baked tart consisting of a shortcrust pastry shell, spread with raspberry jam, covered with a custard filling and topped with flakes of coconut and a Maraschino cherry. Tea rooms and cafes in the area will have these available and there is also a variation of the original recipe that includes slices of banana underneath the custard with the jam, but these may only be available to buy in cakes shops. Worth a try ! Three delicacies from Manchester will set you up for another run down the M6 to Staffordshire, to try their Oakcake.


The Oatcake is one of Staffordshire's most famous culinary treats. These are like pancakes made from oatmeal and yeast. Staffordshire oatcakes are cooked on a hot griddle and are very versatile. Traditionally a food favoured by the potters from the 'Potteries' (also known as Stoke-on-Trent or the 'Five Towns') they can be eaten hot or cold, for breakfast with eggs and bacon or spread with butter and a sweet preserve for tea. They can also be used to wrap a savoury filling and then placed in the oven to bake. So you have a choice here, or maybe try both forms?


A bit of a break here perhaps before starting a cross country journey to Yorkshire. The easiest route would be back up the M6 and onto the M62 which will take you right across the country, and any Yorkshire town will be able to provide you with their famous regional delicacies. Parkin is a dish associated with the winter months. It is like a heavier, darker gingerbread made with oatmeal and black treacle. The dish originally developed because of the plentiful supply of oats in the farming areas, and the farmhouse oven was ideal for baking Parkin, once the oven had cooled slightly after the daily bread had been made. There are many variations on the recipe and it is traditionally eaten around the bonfire on Guy Fawkes Night (5th November). Many of the regions have a traditional items that they have associated with Guy Fawkes (or Bonfire) Night.
Once you have tried this, turn your attention to the delicious Yorkshire Curd Tart. This is a sort of early cheesecake that can be made small or large, although many bought these days tend to be the individual size.
But you will have to make a trip to the town of Pontefract, to try one of the most traditional items – the Pontefract Cake. This is really more of a sweet, as they are a type of small, roughly circular black sweet measuring approximately 2 cm in diameter and 4 mm thick, made of liquorice. Of course these can be purchased in any good sweet shop, but it is always nice to explore the place where these things originate.

'Educational' focus . . . .

Finally, for this trip we will venture back down the M6 and perhaps, for a change down the M40 to the county of Berkshire to try a rather special sweet dish known as Eton Mess. An odd name, but apparently this sweet dish originated at one of the annual prize-givings held at Eton College, one of Britain’s most famous public schools. It was originally made with either strawberries or bananas mixed with ice cream or cream. Meringue was a later addition. Nowadays, Eton Mess consists of pieces of crisp meringue, lightly whipped cream and strawberries, all stirred together - hence the name "mess". So, as Eton college is close to the town of Windsor, you could enjoy this delicacy sitting in a tea room in the shadow of Windsor Castle, or have a walk around the college.
I think this trip has covered quite a lot of miles, a bit of a zigzag around England, but nevertheless, one that has provided an opportunity to see many fascinating locations in our countryside.


Cakes, English Regions, Foods, Recipes, Sweet Pastries

Meet the author

author avatar Penny W-T
Published articles on education themes, travel, history and writing techniques. Written a book on WW1 - Gallipoli, and travel books. Run a marketing network for small businesses.

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author avatar Eileen Ward Birch
16th Jun 2013 (#)

Interesting little tour.
HOw do you get so many pictures together? I seem able to only have one per section.

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author avatar Penny W-T
16th Jun 2013 (#)

I cheat. I open a Word page with a table format. Create a two column/4 line size and it will fit an A4 page. as above. For larger pictures have less lines, but make sure the page is full otherwise it leaves white gaps when added to your text (and I don't know yet how to avoid that)!

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author avatar Penny W-T
16th Jun 2013 (#)

From the word page you then have to save it to 'Paint' so that a pdf format can be produced.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
17th Jun 2013 (#)

The Manchester tart has my heart.. but all are just wonderful...thank you Penny!

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author avatar Penny W-T
17th Jun 2013 (#)

Most of the items I have tried at various times on my travels. It's like a travelogue with food !

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author avatar Retired
28th Jun 2013 (#)

I love pies,this is a great post and I am fond of cooking too,I have some recipes to share too soon.

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author avatar Penny W-T
28th Jun 2013 (#)

Thank you for your comments. I look forward to seeing your recipes on here soon.

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