Anyone who tells you they don’t love cake is probably lying. Either that or they eat extremely healthy food, not allowing themselves any treats or indulgent snacks. To be honest, that doesn’t sound like a lot of fun.
When we imagine what heaven looks like, it involves getting to eat cake on a non-stop basis like Terry does in our newest TV ad – watch it here. So we figured it was high (tea) time to list some of Britain’s finest. Feast your eyes on 10 of the best cakes in the UK and resist the urge to run to the shops. At least until you’ve finished the list anyway.
1. Bara Brith
A swanking Welsh cake, the name literally meaning ‘speckled bread’. Originally it was made once a week as a treat by adding crumpets to leftover bread dough. Time and plenty of recipes means it’s also baked as a proper fruitcake now, mostly by ditching the yeast and using self-raising flour. Make sure you soak the dried fruit in tea overnight, the Welsh swear by it!
2. Swiss roll
Not from Switzerland, although nobody is actually sure where the name comes from. But what’s in a name? All you need to know is that it’s baked as a flat rectangular sponge which is then spread with jam or buttercream – try both if you love a bit of decadence – before being rolled and sliced to serve. The 19th century chap who invented this sure had a sense of humour – and a thing for cake.
Another cake from the olden days that requires a bit of handiwork is the Battenberg. The yellow-and-pink chequered pattern means you have to bake two sponges in the right colour before cutting and stacking, using jam as some sort of edible glue. Cover the entire cake in marzipan on all sides and it’s ready to eat. Although there’s a small German town named Battenberg, we’re a bit stuffed as to why someone named this cake after it.
4. Banoffee Pie
Okay, so this isn’t a cake in the strictest sense of the word but it’s so delicious! Invented by chef Nigel MacKenzie of The Hungry European Cat in East Sussex, it soared to popularity so fast the special dish became part of the menu permanently. Now that doesn’t surprise us at all. After all what’s not to like about a dessert that combines biscuits, banana, cream and soft caramel? No, we’re not drooling . . .(much).
5. Carrot cake
A lot of foreigners frown at this classic British cake because putting vegetables in a cake is ridiculous. We have news for you, patisserie prudes: carrots have been used to sweeten desserts since the middle ages as sugar was expensive and they are the veggies that contain the most naturally occurring sugars by far. Often the recipes are spiced up with kirsch, cinnamon, nuts and raisins. Eat that!
Named after a small town close to the Manchester city centre, not necessarily the place of invention although it is the place of commercial birth for this cake. Lovely flaky pastry filled with currants and often topped with sugar, it sounds a lot tastier than its nickname ‘Fly Pie’ suggests.
7. Victoria Sponge
Don’t you dare look down on this cake just because it lacks pretty decorations or Battenberg chequers. After all, it was named after Queen Victoria since it was her favourite treat when having afternoon tea. Two sponge halves with raspberry jam and double cream wedged in between, dusted with sugar. Sometimes less really is more.
8. Fondant Fancy
Introduced by Mr Kipling and also known as a French Fancy, these colourful cakes are small sponge squares covered in fondant, marzipan and drizzled with extra flavours such as chocolate. It seems they are notoriously difficult to make, leaving a few contestants in The Great British Bake Off quite frazzled. Why can’t the French come up with something simple for once?
9. Bakewell Tart
We’ve all been tempted by those beautiful Cherry Bakewells in the supermarket at some point in our lives. Although a real tart will see the shortcrust pastry topped with jam before the frangipane, the cherry variation is the one we’ve come to know best. We shouldn’t worry about cake conventions when it tastes good, right?
10. Jaffa Cake
A soft sponge base with a dollop of orange jelly covered in dark chocolate. Is it really a cake though? McVities took the matter to court in 1991 so it could be made official for tax purposes – who knew VAT is different for biscuits than for cakes? They argued that when cakes go off, they get hard while stale biscuits go soft so a Jaffa is definitely cake. The court agreed but we think it’s a shame to leave a pile of cakes untouched just to prove a point.
We’re hungry now and can’t decide which one to go out and buy. Bugger. Maybe one of each?
*Featured image courtesy of antpkr at FreeDigitalPhotos.net