Looking for the best traditional British desserts? From puddings to tarts to cakes, these easy recipes are fit for a queen and perfect for afternoon tea!
What the British grew up eating is similar to what their parents grew up eating. It’s probably what their kids will become accustomed to eating, too.
If it works, why change it?!
Our friends across the pond are big on tradition, and who can blame them?
If you’re a fan of warm cake with thick custard, sweet pastry tarts, and lots of dried fruit, this list of 24 British desserts is for you!
Brits love strawberries and cream. They put it on everything!
It might have something to do with the fact that summer is so short-lived that they like to make the most of it.
And what screams summer more than fresh strawberries?
This dish highlights the strawberries while providing a lovely creamy base for them to sit in.
It’s almost like fresh strawberry soft serve!
Many British puddings consist of some type of cake or sponge served in a bowl of warm custard.
A few rogues prefer ice cream, but there’s nothing like a big bowl of vanilla custard.
Jam Roly Poly is no exception.
The classic version is a suet-based sponge that gets rolled out and slathered with jam before being rolled up and slow-baked over a water bath for steam.
If the thought of adding suet – raw, hardened beef fat – to your pudding is a little too much, this version is for you.
The sponge is a cross between cake and cookie and needs just six ingredients!
There’s nothing like a day at the seaside followed by fish ‘n’ chips and a Knickerbocker glory.
This traditional ice cream sundae is best served in a tall glass with a nice long spoon.
It must have red and white stripes from vanilla ice cream and raspberry sauce, but I won’t tell if you add some other yummy favorites.
This mixture of dairy and alcohol might not sound (or look) appetizing, but the flavors are quite pleasant.
If a white Russian works, why not this?
It may not be too visually appealing because it can often separate when the wine mixes into the dairy, causing a cottage cheese-like layer to float on the top.
This recipe heats the wine with sugar before slowly adding in the half and half.
Once combined and whipped up, it should stay lovely and thick.
If I could only eat one pie for the rest of my life, it would be Banoffee pie.
The Brits use a digestive biscuit base, which is similar, but a little less sweet than graham crackers.
You can use a store-bought pie crust and a can of dulce de leche to speed things up.
Though making your own is super simple. Just simmer a can of condensed milk in a pot of water for a few hours.
Don’t be shy with the bananas and top with whipped cream and chocolate shavings.
This decadent pudding is made using boiled and pureed dates with brown sugar sponge cake.
But the real star is the sauce. This recipe adds in a touch of brandy, but you could use rum or bourbon, too.
Serve the pudding warm with both toffee sauce and custard.
My favorite thing about an Eaton mess is in the name: mess!
You need not stress about getting your meringue perfect (or even making it yourself).
Everything gets chopped or broken and tossed together for a sweet, fresh, and light dessert that you can throw together in minutes.
If you use store-bought meringue, the most work you’ll need to do is whip the cream.
As you would expect, the Brits use strawberries and cream.
But if you wanted something different, why not travel down under and use mango and passionfruit?
This dish came about when frugal homemakers were looking for a way to use up leftover bread.
By soaking the stale bread in sweet custard before baking, it soaks in all the flavor and comes out tender and incredible.
I like to add rum-soaked raisins to mine, or even chocolate and banana if I’m feeling naughty.
The truth is, you can add in anything you want! Pecans, cranberries, white chocolate, orange zest, dark chocolate, cherries… the list goes on.
Just be sure to let the dish soak for an hour (or even overnight) and, as always, serve with a drizzle of warm custard.
This Scottish version of a strawberry fool uses raspberries instead and throws in some whiskey for good measure.
It also has a nice layer of toasted oats for a little crunch to cut through all that cream.
Rather than folding everything together, this dish has distinct layers and should be served in a nice tall glass.
You will see a few staples in almost every British restaurant, and treacle tart is one of them.
Made using Golden Syrup, there really is no adequate substitution. Golden Syrup has a deep caramel flavor while being sweet and lightly golden.
It is not corn syrup, nor is it a light molasses.
If you want to make this tart and live out all your Harry Potter dreams at home, you will need to either source some or make your own!
It’s pretty easy, and when you see how good it is, you’ll be using it in everything!
In keeping with tradition, this tart is both simple and frugal.
The pastry case is a simple, buttery sweet pastry filled with a treacle (Golden Syrup), egg, cream, and breadcrumbs.
When baked, cut a nice big slice and serve with custard (naturally).
Made by hand, this lightly spiced loaf cake is packed with chunks of apple and dried fruit.
It uses the same method my nana used. Rub the butter into the flour between your fingers until it looks like breadcrumbs.
When incorporating everything else, fold gently so as not to over-mix the batter.
Given the name, apples are essential in this cake. But feel free to experiment with the dried fruits. I like to use candied citrus peel and apricots!
This sweet little dish needs just four ingredients and 10 minutes to put together.
I like to use pound cake for this, and I even will char it if I have the time.
You can throw it on the grill for a few seconds or even under the broiler to give it a little toasty edge.
Top the sponge with canned peaches, ice cream, and warmed jam.
Tea bread and cakes are very popular throughout the UK.
From one end of the island to the other, you will come across a number of different versions (some are the same but have different names).
This Welsh version soaks the fruit in tea overnight (such a great way to infuse extra moisture and flavor) and uses dark brown sugar and spices in the cake.
When baked, you will need to pour the reserved fruit juice over the top.
Serve sliced with some butter. Or if you want to be really British, try serving with some mature cheddar (I kid you not!)
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer!
This steamed pudding is quite dense and usually only made around the holidays.
It is traditionally steamed in a unique pudding basin for a couple of hours.
Luckily, this version uses a bundt pan and water bath to get a similar texture.
The spiced cake is filled with cooked figs, orange peel, and breadcrumbs.
You can serve with whipped cream, custard, or, for something a little more grown-up, why not try making a batch of Brandy Sauce!
Another excellent tea cake recipe, this version comes from Scotland.
This one has raisins and citrus peel with a distinct almond decoration on top.
Where this differs is the marmalade inside!
Making your own marmalade is similar to making jam with pectin. I prefer to make my own so that I can adjust the flavor slightly.
Most store-bought jars can be quite bitter, and I like to up the sugar in mine.
This lovely light pudding is close to an American apple cobbler.
A layer of stewed apples sits on the bottom of a baking dish and gets covered with a light Victoria sponge.
Unlike most cobblers, the apples don’t get any extra sugar or spices. The traditional apple used is Bramley, which can be quite sour.
The sweet cake and added custard cut through the sourness perfectly.
Welsh cakes are like scones; only they get cooked on a cast iron or griddle.
They are dense, and you will need to roll out the dough and cut rounds to cook.
They are the Welsh equivalent of biscuits in the states and are often made as breakfast options, though they are usually sweet and contain raisins.
Serve with your morning tea and a knob of butter.
These delicate little cookies are mostly served around the holidays.
Here’s another chance to use that Golden Syrup you made before! The dough is a combination of butter, sugar, flour, Golden Syrup, and ginger.
When cooked, it will look a lot like caramel and then needs to be worked in the same way as tuile.
Once spooned onto a baking sheet and baked, you can quickly shape before they set.
An excellent option is to place the hot cookie on an overturned cupcake tin to make a little bowl.
Shortbread topped with caramel topped with chocolate… pretty perfect, right?
First, make the shortbread, being careful not to over-mix the dough. You will need to bake and let it cool before topping with the caramel.
For the caramel, you could use a thick store-bought version or make your own with condensed milk.
You’ll need it thick enough so that you can slice it into squares.
After topping with melted chocolate, score your cuts so that it won’t crack when you cut it later.
You might notice a theme: sponge and custard. Ask any Brit, and that’s what they were raised on!
The difference is that many of their sponge puddings are steamed or contain suet.
As mentioned above, suet is hardened beef fat. Think of it like Crisco; only you can cut and grate it.
It’s used to help incorporate moisture, much like shortening, only you can’t whip it into frosting.
This pudding gets its name from the currents dotted throughout, making it ‘spotted.’
It also cooks in a pudding basin, steaming for around 90 minutes. Alternatively, you can try the water bath and keep an eye on it.
Do I even need to say how this gets served? I’m telling you, make a double batch of custard because it goes on everything!
This sweet little tart is crumbly and sweet with a lovely light pastry.
The filling is made using curds, which have a similar texture to cottage cheese.
They’re not like the cheese curds you find in poutine, which are bigger chunks.
When mixed with butter, sugar, eggs, and currents, it will bake into a beautiful, almost cheesecake-like filling.
Trust me, this is one to try! I even had a friend bring me some over after a trip to York and devoured it all in a single weekend.
Something you may have noticed about many of these recipes is their simplicity.
From a bowl of strawberries and cream to a quick apple and sponge pudding, many British desserts use few ingredients.
This buttery shortbread is classic, elegant, and needs just three ingredients.
Using powdered sugar will ensure sweetness with no gritty texture after the bake.
However, it’s not uncommon for British shortbread to get a sprinkling of white sugar.
Keep it simple, or try dipping in chocolate. Either way, it tastes best with a cup of tea.
Mary Berry is the queen of all things baked in the UK. So if you’re going to make this classic bakery item, it should be her recipe.
Enriched, sweet shortcrust pastry filled with raspberry jam and topped with an almond fragipan, you will find these in every single bakery out there.
The raspberry is such a nice tart flavor that compliments the almond filling just right.
You can leave this tart plain, and it will still be delicious, but the icing layer on top makes it extra special.
These no-bake cookies get their name from the quantities needed: 15 of each plus condensed milk and coconut.
Once the biscuit crumbs, marshmallows, and cherries are mixed into the condensed milk, it will thicken to the point you can roll into a log.
After sitting in the fridge for a few hours, cut the log into 15 pieces, and enjoy.
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