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  • Writer's pictureSarah Franks

Traditional cakes

Growing up in the Lake District, I was surrounded by traditional cakes that were synonymous with the area. Anyone visiting the Lake District will stop by Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread to fuel their long hike, or just take some time out for afternoon tea. The Lake District is also famous for sticky toffee pudding, a deliciously decadent yet traditional pudding that evokes happy memories around the dinner table.


I like to put my own spin on recipes, and make gingerbread with a pudding consistency, that has fast become my signature bake. Traditionally dark and sticky, this gingerbread has the perfect balance of ginger and treacle to make it a firm family favourite. It got me thinking. What other traditional cakes are favourites in different places around the UK?



Sally Lunn’s Bath Buns, Bath, Somerset

Sally Lunn’s is a famous tea and eating house in the centre Bath in Somerset. They are well kown for Sally Lunn’s Bath Buns. First made by Sally, a Huguenot refugee in the late seventeenth century, they are a round bready bun similar to French brioche. Creamy, eggy, and utterly delicious.


Bakewell Puddings, Bakewell, Derbyshire

Bakewell in Derbyshire's Peak District National Park is famous for its cake of the same name. The Bakewell Pudding was apparently first made by accident by a baker at local inn, the White Horse in the 1860s. Puff pastry, egg, strawberry jam and almonds were combined to make a tasty cake. More commonly seen now is the Bakewell Tart, which involves shortcrust pastry, layers of jam, frangipane, and a topping of flaked almonds, often with a cherry on top.


Banbury Cake, Oxfordshire

A spiced, oval-shaped, currant-filled pastry, often enjoyed with afternoon tea, Banbury Cakes are often confused with Eccles Cakes. They have been made in Oxfordshire since 1586, when they were first baked by Edward Welchman. Dried fruits, butter and spice make for a tasty mix – which sometimes has dashes of alcohol to bring out the flavour.


Gypsy Tart, Kent

A mix of evaporated or condensed milk, muscovado sugar and pastry, the dark and tasty Gypsy Tart is native to the southern county of Kent. Super sweet, it was often part of a school dinner menu. Folklore says it was first made by a gypsy woman from the Isle of Sheppey who wanted to make something for them to eat but she only had a few things in her larder. She whipped up this storm.


Chelsea Buns, London

First baked in the 18th century at the Bun House in Chelsea, the Chelsea bun is a currant bun that goes beyond just a fruity cake. A rich yeast dough flavoured with lemon peel, cinnamon or mixed spice, it looks like a spiral. Sweet and sticky they are baked in a tray and torn apart when ready to serve.


What memories do you have of local cakes and traditional bakes? I’d love to know!


Sarah-Jane xx

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