A Guide to Classic British Sweets

While I was doing research on classic British meals, I ran across so many incredible dishes that I just had to write an article on desserts as well.

If was hard for me to come up with just 10 delicious desserts, and these are only the most traditional or popular ones. Please let me know any treats you love that I might have missed!

Bakewell Tart

According to legend, a muddleheaded cook invented this confection when they were told to make a jam tart but spread out a layer of jam instead right on top of a shortcrust pastry and then topped with an almond and egg combination.

The result was a custardy, jammy tart and ever since it has been one of the classic British sweet. Bakewell Pudding is very similar and is a variation that uses puff pastry. One delicious Bakewell Tart recipe uses orange zest and raspberry jam.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Pie

British strawberries and British rhubarb are two wonderful things and if you add them to a pie, prepare to be wowed. A few servings of warm strawberry and rhubard pie should at least put to rest the reputation of Britain having terrible food – get the complete recipe over on Foodal

Bonfire Toffee

Every November fifth Guy Fawkes Night is celebrated and is not completed without a bonfire, fireworks, and a big plate full of fresh treacle toffee. It is a brittle black sweet (which in Wales is called lushin du and in Scotland is called claggum) and tastes like butterscotch and molasses.

No one really knows how it evolved into a traditional treat for Bonfire Night but it is definitely worth trying if you are searching for something sticky and rich no matter what time of year it is.

Butter And Bread Pudding

All types of puddings are very popular throughout the British Isles, but one of them, in particular, is very easy to make and it the ultimate in comfort food.

You just simply need to layer buttered bread slices in a dish and then sprinkle raisins in and pour milk (or cream) and egg seasons with vanilla and nutmeg on top. This pudding, when served with custard, is a creamy delight that you are sure to enjoy.

Chelsea Buns

If you are a cinnamon roll lover, then the Chelsea Bun is a sweet you are sure to adore. Invented at the Chelsea Bun House in London around the 18th century, the dough swirls are stuffed with dried fruit, spices, brown sugar, and butter – and drizzled with icing after being warmed in the oven.

They are almost too good to actually be true. Traditionally, the buns are square-shaped, and any mixture of currants, sultanas, or raisins will do just fine.

Eton Mess

The Eton Mess is named after Eton College and is one of the best ever uses for strawberries. Since 1440 the school has educated young boy, and somehow it became associated with the combination of cream, pieces of meringue, and strawberries that look like the leftover smashed up remains of a beautiful dish.

According to Etonian legend, the invented of Eton Mess happened by accident. However, no matter what its true origin is, this dreamy dessert is very sweet and tasty.

Fruit Cake

Although Christmas fruitcakes are something that Americans like to make fun of, the Brits really love their version. It deserves more credit than it receives. An excellent British Fruit Cake gets made months or weeks in advance and is “fed” periodically with alcohol (with no electric green fruits to be found).

At Christmastime, Fruit Cake is definitely traditional fare (covered in royal icing and marzipan) but it is a classic form of British wedding cake as well. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge enjoyed a Fruit Cake of eight tiers that was decorated with a total of 900 sugar-paste flowers for their wedding.

Mince Pies

Mincemeat or Mince pie is another one of long-time popular Christmas dessert. The name dates back to times when mincemeat contained actual mincemeat. However, today the filling is simply a mixture of warming spices, candied citrus peel, fruits, and minced suet.

It is sometimes served with lashings of cream or sprinkles of powdered sugar. Mince Pie has definitely come quite a long way from the past’s sweet-and-savory dish.

Spotted Dick

Despite its strange name, the pudding is actually very delicious. “Dick” is a colloquial word for pudding, and “spotted” refers to the dried fruit that is sprinkled throughout the dough (another name for the dish is “spotted dog” since it supposedly looks like a Dalmatian).

The dish was served traditionally in a pool of custards. Its ingredients are easy enough – it is simply a sponge pudding full of currants or raisins – but it is very rich which makes it a really special treat.


The English trifle is a delicious pile of sponge cake, egg custard, sherry, jelly, fruit and whipped cream that are layered on top of each other, which makes it a true wonder to behold. According to Oliver Wendell Holmes, it is “the most wonderful object of domestic art.” This is definitely a brilliant way to use leftovers and a very impressive dish.

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