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20 of the Best British Desserts to Savor

By | Last Updated: 26th June 2023

English food is known for its versatility and authenticity. When it comes to desserts, a whole lot of puddings, cakes, pies, and custards that the country has in store for you will floor you to the fullest. Milk, cream, eggs, suet, and dried fruits form the major ingredients of most of Britain’s sweet dishes. Read on to know more about the list of lip-smacking desserts the country boasts of.

British Desserts

1. Christmas Pudding – British Holiday Dessert

Christmas Pudding British Christmas Dessert


What is it: A traditional pudding served in Ireland and the United Kingdom during Christmas as a part of its dinner platter. Originating in medieval England, its main ingredients include eggs and suet, alongside dried fruits nutmeg, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves. The cake is almost black, mainly because of the dark sugar and black treacle it contains. Citrus fruit juice, brandy, or other varieties of alcohol, helps to moisten the dough, also contributing towards its long shelf life spanning for a month or even up to a year. The addition of a whole lot of spices adds to its rich aroma. Accompaniments include lemon cream, custard, cream, sweetened béchamel, and ice cream. Though it is alternately known as plum pudding, there is no plum at all. Actually in the pre-Victorian era plum was referred to as raisins, which is present in the cake.

What does it taste like: It is rich, nutty, fruity, and aromatic with the flavor of alcohol dominating.

2. Mince Pie – British Christmas Dessert

Mince Pie British Holiday Dessert


What is it: A sweet pie made of mincemeat (a combination of spices and dried fruits). Traditionally it was known as shred pie, Christmas pie, or mutton pie. People ate mince pie during Christmas, and the tradition continues even at present. However, the number of ingredients in recent times has lessened compared to what it was before.

What does it taste like: Delicious, though a little powdery, with the amalgamation of the various spices and dried fruits creating a fusion in your mouth.

3. Caraway Seed Cake – Traditional British Dessert

Caraway Seed Cake Traditional British Dessert


What is it:  A traditional cake of Britain, comprising of caraway seeds alongside sugar, flour, butter, custard powder, and milk. The cake gained its popularity in the 18th century, mainly during the Victorian Era. It even became famous in Wales and Ireland.

What does it taste like: Earthy, citrusy, and aromatic, also having a fair proportion of sweetness.

4. Apple Cake – A Tasty British Apple Dessert

Apple Cake British Apple Dessert


What is it: Another famed dessert of the country, primarily prepared with apples. The fruit is sliced and added to the base of the otherwise plain cake for enhancing its fragrance. Nutmeg and cinnamon were a part of the traditional version for intensifying its aroma and flavor. Crushed nuts such as almonds and walnut exist in the batter.

What does it taste like: Sweet, crisp, tart, and soft are its primary flavors.

5. Trifle – A Delicious Fruit Dessert

Trifle Famous English Dessert


What is it: A lip-smacking dessert made from fruits, custard and sponge fingers (cut in thin layers) dipped in sherry or other dessert wine. Toppings of whipped cream may even be added. The ingredients of the dish are arranged in a manner to form three or four layers. The versions of trifle vary with some preparations omitting fruits completely and adding coffee, vanilla, or chocolate. Gelatin jelly forms a part of the present-day preparation.

What does it taste like: Soft, tender, and crispy, with the addition of jelly giving it a sweet, spongy flavor.

6. Bakewell Tart – A Layered British Dessert

Bakewell Tart Layered British Dessert


What is it: A tasty confection, having shortcut pastry alongside a thick layer of jam and frangipane, with flaked almond toppings. This desert has a close association with Derbyshire’s Bakewell town, from where it derives its name. One can have it warm with custard or cream or even cold, teamed with a hot cup of tea. This dessert is different from its close cousin Bakewell pudding in terms of the ingredients as the latter has eggs while the former is eggless.

What does it taste like: Crispy, and soft, with the inner layers having a thick consistency alongside a sugary, creamy taste.

7. Bread and Butter – A Traditional British Pudding

Bread and Butter Traditional British Pudding


What is it: A traditional pudding made from buttered bread slices arranged in layers, over which a mixture of egg custard prepared from cream and milk is poured. Seasonings comprise of vanilla, nutmeg as well as other spices and this dish is baked and then served. Traditionally stale bread was used. Jams or marmalades are evenly spread on the bread apart from the butter. It is moist enough, not requiring any sides, though some prefer to team it with cream or custard.

What does it taste like:  Soft, moist, creamy, and buttery, the taste varying with the stuffings and seasonings.

8. Eve’s – A Traditional English Dessert Pudding

Eve’s Traditional English Dessert


What is it: A classic British pudding, prepared by baking apple slices within a sponge cake mixture. The dessert originated for the first time in 1824, deriving its name from Eve, the famous biblical character. One can team this sweet platter with cream or custard.

What does it taste like: Soft and spongy, with the freshness and sweetness of apple dominating in every bite.

9. Blancmange – A Great British Dessert

Blancmange Great British Dessert


What is it: A white upturned sweet made from cream or milk, and sugar, thickened using gelatin, Irish moss or corn starch, and flavored with almonds. Though a typical Blancmange is white, the dish comes in different colors at present. During the Middle Ages, chicken or capon, rice, milk, and sugar went into its preparation, mostly served to the ailing. It transformed into a meatless platter in the 17th century. In the 19th century, its ingredient list expanded with the addition of cornflour and arrowroot.

What does it taste like: Milky, and sugary with a thick consistency, while the inclusion of almond makes it nutty.

10. Jam Roly-Poly –A Popular British Pudding Roll

Jam Roly-Poly Popular British Dessert


What is it: A classic pudding, appearing similar to a Swiss roll, made with flour, spices, bread crumbs, suet, and raisins. A filling of jam is added before arranging it into a roll. It was also known as shirt-sleeved pudding since traditionally, people served it steamed in the sleeve of an old shirt.

What does it taste like: Soft and delicious, with the taste of jam dominating in every bite you take making it immensely sugary. Often served in thick slices, one can team the dessert with cream or custard.

11. Arctic Roll – A Famous English Dessert

Arctic Roll Famous English Dessert


What is it:  A tasty roll made by enclosing vanilla ice cream within a thin sponge cake layer with a raspberry sauce added in between for flavoring. Dr. Ernest Velden invented it during the 1950s and the dessert attained immense popularity since then.

What does it taste like: Spongy, sweet and creamy are the primary flavors of this frozen dessert.

12. Banoffee – An English Dessert Pie

Banoffee English Dessert Pie


What is it: A mouth-watering pie made by placing toffee, banana, and cream upon a buttery biscuit base. Its name is a portmanteau of banana and toffee, the two edibles that go into its preparation. Nigel Mackenzie, The Hungry Mon Restaurant’s owner, along with his chef Ian Dowding created this unique pie in the year 1971.

What does it taste like: Soft, crunchy, crispy, and sweet, with every bite giving you divine pleasure.

13. Crumble – A Classic English Dessert

Crumble Classic English Dessert


What is it: This could be sweet or savory, the former being more popular than the latter. The sweeter type of crumble has stewed fruit with a mixture of sugar, flour, and fat in a crumbled form. Custard, ice cream, or cream act as accompaniments. The savory variety has vegetable, sauce, and meat with cheese substituting sugar. The fruits that go into the preparation of a crumble include peach, apple, rhubarb, blackberry, plum, and gooseberry. Rolled oats, almonds, other nut varieties serve as toppings.

What does it taste like: Crunchy and soft with sweetness dominating.

14. Spotted Dick – A Popular English Dessert

Spotted Dick Popular English Dessert


What is it: A British pudding, prepared from dried fruits (mostly raisins or currants) and suet, mainly served along with custard. Nontraditional variants of this platter include butter replacing suet or even eggs to make a dish similar to sponge cake or pudding. The term spotted indicates the dried fruit present in the dessert, while dick has several etymologies behind it.

What does it taste like: Soft and spongy, with every bite of it making the flavor of dried fruits prominent enough.

15. Sticky Toffee Pudding – An English Sponge Cake

Sticky Toffee Pudding English Cake and Dessert


What is it: A moist sponge cake, enveloped in toffee sauces served with vanilla ice cream and custard. A modern version of this dessert, sticky toffee date pudding, has gained popularity in New Zealand and Australia. The pudding was developed and served for the first time by Robert Lee, and Francis Coulson, at the Sharrow Bay Country House hotel during the 1970s.

What does it taste like:  Moist, sticky, and aromatic, this dessert would taste brilliant, especially when combined with vanilla ice cream.

16. Custard Tart – A British Custard Dessert

Custard Tart British Custard Dessert


What is it:  A baked pastry dish having a crusty outer layer, with an egg custard filling. The modern version of the dessert has ingredients like shortcrust pastry cream or milk, sugar, vanilla, and egg as its primary ingredients with sprinklings of nutmeg. It is alternately referred to as egg custard or egg custard tart to distinguish it from the corn-flour based ones.

What does it taste like: They are mildly sweet with a creamy interior.

17. Hot Cross Bun – A British Easter Dessert

Hot Cross Bun British Easter Dessert


What is it: A sweet bun, spiced with nutmeg, and ground cinnamon, alongside dried fruits. In the UK, as well as a lot of other countries like Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, and certain parts of the United States, people eat it on Good Friday. The white cross on the top has a mixture of sugar and flour. Different parts of the bun have various symbolism, as the cross stands for Christ’s crucifixion, while the spices within represent the spices used for embalming Jesus during his funeral.

What does it taste like: Dense, sweet and fruity, with the spices adding to its savory flavor.

18. Rhubarb Pie –A Typical British Dessert

Rhubarb Pie Typical Christmas Dessert


What is it: A delicious pie filled with diced rhubarb, highly popular in the United Kingdom. Apart from rhubarb, sugar, flour, and butter are the other ingredients added to the dish. Strawberry may sometimes be mixed with rhubarb to create a strawberry rhubarb pie having a blend of sweetness and tartness.

What does it taste like: Crispy, and a combination of sweet and sour since rhubarb has a subtle taste getting sweet when cooked.

19. Fruit Pudding – A Summer Dessert

Summer Fruit Pudding British Summer Dessert


What is it: A fruit pudding prepared from white bread slices as well as a whole lot of summer fruits like loganberries, raspberries, blueberries, and cherries. The contents are placed in a bowl and left overnight to soak thoroughly, to bring the authentic flavors into prominence. This fruit pudding gained popularity in the latter part of the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. People often team this dessert with cream.

What does it taste like: Soft, moist, sweet, and juicy, this dish tastes the best if prepared from stale bread, as the juice from the fruit can soak within the bread thoroughly.

20. Pound Cake – A Traditional English Dessert for Tea

Pound Cake English High Tea Desserts


What is it: A traditional cake prepared from butter, flour, sugar, and eggs, each in the measurement of a pound. A coat of icing or lightly glazed powdered sugar serves as toppings.

What does it taste like: Thick, soft, sugary and buttery, the taste differing with the kind of flavorings used.

The list mentioned here is just a small number of the array of tasty desserts found in the country. Bedfordshire clanger, Carrot cake, Eton mess, and Lardy cake are some of them. On your next visit to Britain, do not miss out on these yummy sweetmeats that would tickle your taste buds to the fullest.

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