Everything You Need to Know About British Cuisine

Everything You Need to Know About British Cuisine

Eat like the Queen

Upon being asked to write an article about British cuisine, I immediately contacted all my friends and family at home, asking what British cuisine means to them. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t long before the responses started flooding in, telling me to “write about sausage rolls!” or to “tell everyone about hot cross buns!” 

Unfortunately there aren’t enough hours in a day to write about every single British dish. However, I have chosen some dishes that really scream Britain. Dishes that make you think of being at the seaside in Wales with your family when you were young; having a picnic in the Lake District in the hills; a summer garden party; lazy Sunday mornings around the family breakfast table. All of the following dishes and drinks will hopefully give you a small insight into the huge world of British cuisine.

Full English Breakfast

Kitchen Stories

The full English breakfast is a national staple. Lazy weekends, birthdays, school holidays and Christmas are all designated full English days—there’s no question about it. Consisting of baked beans (another national favorite), sausages, crispy bacon rashers, hash browns and lots of ketchup or brown sauce, it certainly fills you up for the day ahead. We also serve it with ridiculous amounts of buttery toast to further amp up the feel-good factor. Best served with a cup of tea or coffee and the company of your friends and family. Prepare the perfect bacon for your breakfast and get it right every time with our tutorial for How to Fry Bacon.

Roast Dinner with Yorkshire Puddings

The same way weekends are for full Englishes, Sunday afternoons are designated roast dinner days. If your family doesn’t have a roast dinner on a Sunday, it’s almost enough of a reason to protest in the street. Yes, we love it that much. There’s nothing better than the smell of beef or chicken roasting in the oven, wafting through the house as you get on with reading your book or finishing a bit of housework. 

So, the ingredients for the perfect roast dinner: some form of roasted meat (usually beef or chicken), tons of vegetables, a lot of gravy, roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings. Yorkshire puddings are one of the best creations to grace this earth –pancake batter, but baked in the oven at a really high temperature until brown and fluffy on the bottom and crispy on top. If you don’t have Yorkshire puddings, then you don’t have a proper roast dinner.

Fish and Chips

Kitchen Stories

Probably the cause of most seagull-related incidents around the UK, fish and chips is a quintessentially British dish. Always found at the seaside, it’s impossible to resist the smell of freshly fried, salty, chunky chips topped with vinegar as you walk along the seafront. Accompanied by flaky, locally caught, white fish that’s dipped in batter and fried until golden and crispy, it’s the perfect beachside meal; also enjoyable in the car if it starts to rain, as usual. Try making your own at home following our How to Make Homemade French Fries.

Pimms

Kitchen Stories

You know it’s a sunny summer day in Britain when the supermarket shelves are completely emptied of Pimms. People race to the store to get a bottle for their afternoon barbecue as if the apocalypse were in sight. Originally created in a London oyster bar in the 1820s, it’s been a huge hit ever since. To make the perfect Pimms, simply slice some strawberries, apples and cucumber, add a measure of Pimms and top with lemonade and a sprig of mint. It’s the absolute epitome of British summertime. You can even use champagne instead of lemonade to make a Royal Pimms Cup, if you really want to push the boat out and live like those at Wimbledon for the day.

Pimm's bowl

Pimm's bowl

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Sticky Toffee Pudding

Relatively self-explanatory, sticky toffee pudding is the dessert that dreams are made of. Very moist sponge made with chopped dates, covered in toffee sauce and served with vanilla custard or ice cream—it’s the perfect winter dessert. After initially becoming popular in the 1970s in the Lake District, its origins are rather disputed. Numerous country house owners claim to have developed the recipe, with some sources even stating that the recipe was brought over by two Canadian pilots during the Second World War. Whatever its origin, you can be absolutely certain that a huge wedge of Sticky Toffee Pudding will feature on the dessert menu at most British countryside pubs, especially in the north of England.

Tea

Kitchen Stories

Nearly every Brit’s day starts with a cup of tea. At my house at university in London it is a rarity to go half an hour without hearing “Tea, anyone?” being shouted up the stairs, immediately being answered with encouraging shouts of “Yes please!” One friend even brings each of us tea in bed, every single morning. However, the words “afternoon tea“ make you think of timeless, decadent affairs in the grand hotels of London, as well as small, cosy cafés and tea rooms around the country. Quite different to drinking tea in your pajamas. 

Dainty, hand-cut cucumber sandwiches and salmon finger sandwiches are always found on the afternoon tea tray, along with the star of the show: the scone. Best served warm, freshly baked, and slightly crumbly, and with fresh strawberry jam and clotted cream. We are rather fussy about our clotted cream, and the cream made in the South West of England, in Cornwall and Devon, is usually the most thick, creamy, and delicious of them all. Take a look at our recipe for cranberry scones for a fresher take on the British classic.

This collection of 6 delicacies is only a brief insight into British Cuisine, but will hopefully give you an idea of how things work. Generally speaking, we either like things to be really dainty— such as our tea, biscuits and finger cut sandwiches— or big and filling, like our full Englishes, roast dinners and doorstop-sized wedges of Sticky Toffee Pudding. One thing’s for sure, I could have included many other dishes, like sausage and mash, toad in the hole, Victoria sponge, trifle, and so forth. But then the list would have gone on forever. Try baking some scones on a sunny day and preparing some Pimms to enjoy in the garden, and you’ll feel like you’re in Britain in no time. Enjoy!