British heritage is known for many things, from iconic castles and chivalrous knights to rolling hills and glorious gardens heaving with roses. British foods, however, don’t always get good press. Leaving aside the full English breakfast or Fish and Chips, how many British foods can name on the top of your head? Perhaps a handful? How about fat rascals and singing hinnies? There some truly iconic British dishes worth savouring. These platefuls of delicious don’t always make the headlines for their great taste but for their cheeky names.
A pudding like no other. And by pudding, we mean dessert, a soft sponge cake baked with dried fruit such as currants, sultanas, cherries, cranberries and any other dried fruit your heart desires. The fruit dot the cake with spots. You can make quite a spectacle on Christmas Eve if you pour over a bit of brandy and set it alight. Spotted dick is best enjoyed with a dollop of custard.
Bubble and squeak
A staple dish for a quick Monday dinner following the Sunday roast and on everybody’s radar after the Christmas celebrations. What bubbles and squeaks? The leftover mash potato and roasted vegetables, thrown in a skillet for a good makeover and a hearty warm dish.
Black pudding is Scottish specialty that often spices up the Fully English breakfast when up North. It owes its black colour and the funky name to its ingredients: oats, pork fat or beef suet and pork blood along with an array of herbs and spices. Don’t let the blood put you off, it actually tastes quite good. It’s not unusual for processed meats, like sausages to contain obscure parts of animals; although blood might be particularly foreboding, it’s actually a very ethical choice to not discard a plentiful by-product. Did you know black pudding is so nutritious and rich in iron it is as good as any superfood?
Perhaps the most famous Welsh dish of them all, standing very proud next to the Irish stew, a sturdy Scott egg, and black pudding. Welsh rarebit is a true delight and a very simple dish in essence: cheese on toast turned delicious with a rich cheese sauce. There is a bit of Worcestershire sauce and mustard thrown into the melted cheese to give it its characteristic taste. It works really great with a lovely bowl of soup, too.
Toad in the hole
Contrary to popular belief, this dish never contained any toads. You can find it in Mrs. Beeton’s iconic Book of Household Management, first published in 1861. It’s was a staple, affordable dish for large families even in the 18th century. As meat back in the day was expensive, poorer households used to combine any meat in batter-based dishes to stretch it a little further. The batter is very similar to Yorkshire pudding and it is mandatory to savour Toad-in-a-hole with a nice gravy.
Possibly the sweetest name for any cake. Cooked in a skillet, with the butter singing as it warms up and hinny is a word of endearment for women or children up in Northumberland, the old coal country. If you go a little further up in Scotland, the singing hinnies go by the name fatty cutties too.
If you are after a plump scone, look no further. Scones are one of the most famous British foods, the fat rascals are a delicious Northern variation. Fat rascals are typical of Yorkshire region, their most widely recognised version was established in the 1980s by Bettys’ Tea Rooms but there is an 1859 Dickens story that identifies them with singing hinnies of Northumberland.
Parkin or perkin is northern England’s’ version of gingerbread. It’s very widespread around Yorkshire, Leeds, and Lancashire and widely enjoyed in winter months. This cake is traditionally made with treacle and fresh oatmeal in November, a great way to celebrate Guy Fawkes Night, the famous failure of Yorkshire’s Guy Fawkes to blow up the Houses of Parliament in 1605.
This tablet, although portable and highly desirable, is not to be associated with your electronic go-to device. Tablet is Scottish candy, very similar to fudge but less sticky with a wonderful crumbly consistency. Because all you need to be happy is a bit of milk, a bit of butter and good old sugar. Word of warning, it’s extremely moreish!
Dorset knobs are hard, dry savoury biscuits, one of the many British foods loaded with history. They are triple baked, made with bread dough and they have an extra touch of sugar and butter, rolled and shaped by hand. Moore bakery started baking them in the mid-1800s and is now the only bakery specialising in this British food. They still bake them traditionally in January and February and you can find them in their traditional tins. You can enjoy them with some Dorset blue Vinny cheese, dipped in tea or cider, or with honey and cream locally known as thunder and lighting. If around Dorset in May, check out for the Dorset knob throwing festival!