Top 7 Typical English Sandwiches

It’s a warm summer’s afternoon, the rowers are splashing on the Avon, the picnic rug is set under the parasols, and the butler has just announced afternoon tea… does it get more English?

We can’t all teleport back to Oxford in the 1920s, but we can experience traditional English afternoon tea through the sophisticated and delicate food tradition of high tea.

No-one does a good high tea better than the English, and no high tea would be complete without those delicate, mouth-watering morsels known as tea sandwiches (along with some scones with cream and jam!). Here are our picks for the top seven English sandwich recipes to look out for.

  1. Cucumber

    When it comes to traditional English recipes, nothing gets more quaintly reminiscent of lawn bowls and afternoon tea than a perfect cucumber tea sandwich.

    This delicate mouthful needs to be made with care and finesse: the bread should be crustless, the cucumbers peeled and seedless, and the butter fresh and thick. Don’t even bother if they’re not freshly made, and we’re going to suggest you become a proper English tea sandwich snob and turn your nose up if they’re not cut into delicate triangles. Pass the Earl Grey, darling!

  2. Smoked Salmon

    A classic for the classy, no high tea array of English tea sandwiches would be complete without the intoxicating aromas of smoked salmon, on a bed of crème fraiche or cream cheese, and with the merest hint of dill. Rye or Pumpernickel bread are acceptable here, and we’ll even grant you a few translucent slices of English cucumber. If it smells fishy, forget it — the salmon may be old.

  3. Egg Salad

    Quintessentially English, the egg salad sandwich is a stalwart of afternoon teas across Britain. A good egg salad sandwich consists of lightly hardboiled eggs, mashed with mayonnaise or yoghurt, and well seasoned with salt, pepper, and perhaps something daring like a sprinkle of chives or paprika. And, of course, a thick layer of the best English butter (preferably organic and from grass-fed cows for the best flavour).

    A good egg salad sandwich should be moist but not soggy; rich but not sickening; and eggy but not sulphurous. If you can smell it from more than a metre away, the eggs may be overcooked or old — stay away!

    White bread is compulsory here, crusts are best trimmed, and multiple layers of filling and bread, neatly cut, would be most welcome. For a taste of Harrod’s-style tea sandwiches, simply add some watercress for a classic ‘egg-and-cress’ experience. Subtle but exquisite.

  4. Roast Beef

    Every good English patriot makes more roast beef than they need, so they can enjoy that special treat of a roast beef sandwich the next day. It’s the horseradish that makes it extra special, lifting the flavours of the roast beef and transforming them into a delicacy. Watch out for dry or curled looking slices of roast beef: this shows it might be old and tough. When it comes to traditional English recipes, roast beef sandwiches are really the cream of the crop.

  5. Tomato

    Don’t even bother going here unless it’s the height of summer and you can find beautifully ripe, tasty, English-grown tomatoes. The tasteless watery pulp grown in hothouses or imported don’t deserve the name. A great English tomato tea sandwich should have slices of juicy, flavoursome tomato, a thick spread of good butter to prevent the bread from going soggy, a hearty bread, and a good sprinkle of salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Look for heirloom tomato varieties, which come in all sorts of beautiful colours ranging from blacks, purples, and greens, to the traditional reds, and even orangey-pink. If the bread looks soggy, forget it!

  6. Cheese and Pickle

    England produces some fine craft cheeses, and there’s no better way to try them than in that classic ploughman’s fare, the cheese and pickle sandwich. The piquancy of the pickle should be not too sour, not too sweet, and offset the richness of the cheese. Look for English classic cheeses such as Wensleydale, and places that make their own pickle.

  7. Ham and Mustard

    A classic ‘next day’ sandwich, nothing beats a sandwich filled with thickly sliced ham off the bone, fine English mustard, and perhaps a little cheese. Free-range ham will taste the best — pale shaved supermarket ham, cured in chemicals, has nothing on the thick rustic slices of traditional English recipes. Wholegrain mustard works here, as do some fresh salad greens — something robust like radicchio, even — and a few slices of ripe tomato, when in season. A nice rye or wholegrain bread goes well with the richness of the fatty meat.

    If you happen to come across a delicious ham and mustard sandwich featuring a good melting cheese like Raclette, try toasting it or having it toasted for a radical combination of English and French cuisines — ploughman’s fare meets the croque monsieur!

There are other delicious combinations out there, but these are the classics when it comes to English tea sandwiches. Stick to simple, tried-and-true combinations, fresh ingredients, and avoid soggy or old-looking offerings, and you can’t go wrong.

Now, pour yourself a fragrant cup of tea with milk and a sugar cube, stir it with a dainty teaspoon, and lift one of those delicate little triangles to your mouth… we hope you’re on a lawn somewhere in the sun, watching the cricket, because it doesn’t get more English than this!

How to Buy Good Pastries in London

Whether it’s in the crisp flaking of an early morning croissant, the aromatic puff of steam wafting from a lunchtime sausage roll, or the delicate curl on the crust of a sneaky dessert apple pie, there’s surely something wonderful about pastries at any time of day. We hit up London to sample the very best pastries we could find, and the fair city did not fail to deliver.

But watch out: all pastries are not made equal, and the unaware pastry shopper might find themselves with a stale or sour mouthful of disappointment. Here’s our go-to guide to buying good London pastries.

Freshness is Quality (and can be found more cheaply than you think)

When you buy pastries in London, it’s easy to assume that luxury patisseries piled with treats and bon bons will be the source of the best morsels. This can be true, but is not always the case. Before re-mortgaging your house for a few luxury bites, try your most popular local supermarket first thing in the morning. Supermarkets will often bake on-site, and their high turnover serving eat-and-run commuters means that a pain au chocolat or croissant may have been baked only an hour previously.

If you do try that boutique bakery, aim for places with queues that sell out around lunchtime. Fresh and sold out today means it is far less likely to be stale and on sale tomorrow. Look out for grease spots below the pastry; this usually means the item has been sitting out for some time.

The French are still King

Many good pastries in London hale from French origins. Pastries are a way of life in France, and some of the best have found their way over the Channel. Look out for regional specialities, such as canelés from Bordeaux (small fluted rum and vanilla confectioneries served as breakfast or dessert). Or try a pain aux raisins, sometimes known as an escargot for its spiralised, snail-like appearance. Like the croissant or pain au chocolat, this is made from leavened butter pastry, swirled with crème pâtissière, and studded with raisins (we like to tell ourselves this almost makes it the ‘health food’ of French pastries! Raisins are fruit, after all). Perfect pastries are crisp on the outside and warm, airy and light within, like a day in early Autumn.

France also has the benefit of having absorbed other cultural influences, such as the delicious flavours of Moroccan and Armenian cuisine, featuring rosewater, almonds, and other delicate and fragrant scents and tastes, so look out for these cultural mash-ups when you want to buy pastries in London.

Better Butter

The quality of butter used can make or break a pastry, and in London where butter can be sourced from all manner of dairies and farms, this is the number-one defining factor in pastry quality.

The water and fat content of the butter will affect the colour and consistency of a pastry, so look for good butter and good colour (not too brown, not too pale — we’re aiming for beautifully golden here). And don’t even go near flaky pastries listing palm oil or canola oil as a primary ingredient — it’s not worth it.

Organic, grass-fed butter, properly stored, will be more likely to create a delicious pastry.

Pastry Patriotism

British pastries such as pies, Cornish pasties, and sausage rolls don’t have to be stodgy nightmares: a good British pastry can be a delicate, deeply satisfying affair, and have its own life form. Look for establishments that have been around for a while and that have a good reputation for classic British pastries, or for owners/bakers who hail from a region famous for pasties, such as Cornwall.

Think Outside the Geographical Pastry Box

When you go to buy pastries in London, don’t limit yourself to English and French pastries. Look at Middle Eastern and Turkish places, where there are a wide range of beautiful, exotic, and delicious delicacies available. Common middle eastern ingredients include dates, almonds, rosewater, figs, pomegranate, and pistachios. Börek (savoury Turkish pastries) and baklava are beautiful when fresh.

Warning Signs

If the pastry you’re looking at is glazed with icing, covered in cheese, sprinkled with multi-coloured confetti, or wrapped in bacon, it is usually to keep the pastry longer and disguise a lack of freshness. Any place selling good London pastries should know better.

Be wary also of refrigerated pastries, as this can make the oil or butter content of an otherwise delicious mouthful harden and congeal. Flaky pastry is not designed to be chilled in this way, and the mouth-congealing effect of cold pastries is not a pleasant sensation.

Be careful also of cafés in museums or galleries: often these places have extremely inflated prices. You don’t want to be paying 12 pounds for a chewy, day-old croissant… right?

Are you Filo-ing it?

A perfect almond croissant is a wonderful thing, but don’t write off other less common forms of pastries, such as delicious creations made of filo, or the retro appeal of puff pastry morsels. Pre-rolled, frozen pastry (again, don’t forget to go for quality butter content), is a great way to experiment with pastry creations at home. Again, Turkish and Middle-Eastern places have a way with filo pastry, often pairing it with sticky honey syrups and delicate flavours.

At the end of the day, there’s only one reliable way to research the best pastries in London: using your tastebuds. Immerse yourself in the incredible range of flavours and options available, slow down, and taste every bite. Savour the moment, and really explore the full character of the pastry. Is it fresh? Meltingly delicate? Subtly rich? Indulgently sweet? If the answer is yes, you might just have found your new favourite pastry shop!

Pastry Makes A Comeback: Best Morsels to Look Out For in London

If you want to know what is happening in the world of food, look no further than London. The bustling city is where you’ll find the latest and greatest food trends, and the rest of the world watches eagerly to see where London will lead.

We’re happy to say that one delicious trend is the comeback of pastries—whether it’s global uncertainty, being sick of too many kale smoothies, or just because they taste so good, Londoners are reaching for a chocolate croissant or a new spin on a Danish.

You only live once, so drop the diet, and sink your teeth into something blissfully delicious. Pastry is back, and it’s more creative and pleasurable than ever.

Here are some of the best morsels in London to watch out.

Global Influence

London is a melting pot of cultures, so it’s the perfect place to find a delicious pastry with a twist from another culture. Look out for the influence of Indian sweets like kulfi and magus, South-East Asian fruits like durian and jackfruit, and the inescapable influence of Japanese macha. It’s common in Japan to see green tea-flavoured filling inside everything from cream buns to cat-shaped waffles, so look out for green tea fillings in your favourite pastries as London gets in on the buzz.

Home Flavours

As well as looking around the world for inspiration, pastry chefs are also making increasing use of the bounty of produce available in their own backyard. Rather than just boring old apple, lemon curd, or maybe the occasional tinned apricot, keep your eyes and nose alert at markets and pastry shops for creative morsels using fragrant local quinces, heritage peach and apricot varieties, fresh local raspberries, that English garden staple, rhubarb, and more.

Chefs like Nigel Slater and Jamie Oliver have led the way championing local produce, and the benefits can be seen in increased awareness of the bounty of England’s garden, and increased availability of previously hard-to-find fruits and vegetables. Elderberry turnover, anyone?

A Return to the Classics

They say that burgers, ice-cream sundaes, and cereal bowls had a boom in popularity around the time of the 2008 financial crisis, and in our current uncertain times, people are once again turning to the simple classics. When the going gets tough, people want something comforting, familiar, and delicious. This means the classics, such as pain au chocolat, pain au raisin, almond croissants, donuts, cream buns, custard squares, and éclairs.

Look for the best: find yourself a bakery with high turnover (and apple turnovers!), that doesn’t use any artificial colours or flavours. Find yourself a regular haunt that you think makes the best London pastries: where the buttery flakes are juuuuust right, and every mouthful is melt-in-the-mouth tender.

Another trend that is spilling across from the world of desserts is complete over-the-top indulgence. “Freakshakes”, giant milkshakes featuring so many toppings you can barely see the glass, are a big Instagram-worthy trend, and we can expect to see some of this unrestrained exuberance spilling over into pastries in London. Think chocolate sprinkles, multiple toppings, whipped cream, chocolate AND caramel sauce, and anything else you can imagine. Now is not the time to think healthy!

The Flipside: Health Craze

At the other end of the spectrum, some of the most creative, best morsels in London involve new-era ingredients that ARE a little healthier. Coconut flour brownie, anyone? How about cashew cream custard, thickened with ground chia seeds? Maca and cacao cookies? Or maybe a slice of dairy-free chocolate cheesecake, made with coconut oil, freeze-dried açai, and activated almond flour?

The most exciting things to look out for in this buzzing area are interesting flours, such as buckwheat, coconut, besan (chickpea), and nut flours; superfoods from around the world, such as maca, chia, hemp seeds, goji berries, açai, cacao, macha, and bee pollen; and creative sweeteners, such as agave nectar (made from the agave cactus plant, which is also where tequila comes from!), coconut sugar (made from the nectar of the flowers, and then dried), dates, raw natural honey, and stevia (a naturally sweet leaf that can replace sugar).

Our knowledge of superfoods and creative food chemistry just keeps increasing, so if you have allergies or intolerances, or enjoy eating outside the box, look out for creative reinterpretations of old favourites, using some of these new-era ingredients.

Be warned, however: there are a few things to watch out for. Some of these treats can be very pricey, so if it’s not completely delicious, don’t bother. Watch out for food-world followers, such as big supermarket chains, trying to get in on the trend by adding negligible amounts of certain superfoods: read the labels to check you’re actually getting what you’re paying for. And finally, don’t get too caught up in the (expensive, often-pretentious) health-food buzz: If it tastes disgusting (or anything less than swoon-worthy), it’s probably not worth it. “Pastry” and “healthy” were never meant to go together in the same sentence. What’s the point in living longer if you you’re not going to eat chocolate croissants?!

Beyond Trends: Deliciousness is Never Out of Fashion

London is full of crazy food trends, but some things will never go out of fashion: simple, sweet, melt-in-the-mouth, fresh London pastries—preferably warm out of the oven. In our complex world, it’s the quiet moments that count: sitting down on a park bench with a lemon custard tart. Sharing a custard scroll with someone you love. Pulling a sticky raspberry bun from the brown paper bag at the end of a summer’s picnic, and licking the icing from the paper. Pastries mean pleasure, so start searching for your go-to source now!

10 Ways To Enjoy French Toast That You Never Knew Existed

French toast is such an easy recipe that resourcefully combines eggs, milk and bread to make an exquisite breakfast or sweet treat with your afternoon tea. However, after you have mastered how to make French toast, you might be ready to up your game. You want to get creative and take French toast to new heights. French toast is such a basic recipe that it can take on various additional ingredients. That’s why we found these 10 ways to enjoy French toast that you never knew existed.

  1. Nutella Bacon Stuffed French Toast

    What could be better than putting the two naughtiest foods together for the ultimate taste bud explosion? Everybody loves bacon and Nutella, although there are some who are too shy to say it. The mix of salty with sweet will have you hooked in an instant. We must admit that this is not the healthiest way to dress up your French toast recipe, but it could be the yummiest. If you are feeling invincible, pour some maple syrup on top. Let us stop teasing you and give you the recipe here.

  2. French Toast Bowls

    This is such an awesome twist to a boring bowl of cereal in the mornings. Certainly, its full of the richness a traditional French toast has and that you have come to expect as well as love. However, topping this bowl of lusciously butter and egg soaked bread with healthy berries will make you feel less guilty digging your fork into this slice of culinary heaven. Give this recipe for French toast bowls a go and let us know how they turned out.

  3. French Toast With Peaches And Ice Cream

    When the summer season hits you like a big rock, it’s time to whip up this delicious breakfast treat. Peaches are in their element in the hotter months, so it’s a great way to use up all the peaches you got from the market. Adding that scoop of vanilla ice-cream just lifts this dish. A classic ingredient pair that will never disappoint you. If it’s the dead of winter, you can still use tin peaches to make this tasty French toast with peaches and ice-cream recipe.

  4. Creme Brulee French Toast Bake

    This just makes our hearts skip a beat. Although the French aren’t the politest, are responsible for Napoléon and think they are better than us Brits – they do two things very well. French toast, of course, and creme brûlée. Put them together and you have heaven on earth. Once you bite into this creme brûlée French toast bake, you will have a soft spot for the French.

  5. Cannoli Stuffed French Toast

    After a trip to the country shaped like footwear, you might be missing some of their famous treats. Trying this combination of the Italian dessert with fluffy French toast could get you into some political trouble, but it’s so worth it. When two countries with excellent cuisine join forces you get this amazing French toast.

  6. Churro French Toast

    Speaking about countries coming together to make the French toast world a better place. Somebody married the Spanish treat Churros with French toast and they came up with this. A perfect formula for French toast lovers who like their bread on the crispier side.

  7. Hot Chocolate French Toast

    We didn’t forget the chocoholics across the globe. Imagine French toast drowned in hot chocolate. You can’t, but you hope it’s true. It’s a legitimate fact that this hot chocolate French toast recipe exists. However, it’s totally up to you whether you want to have it for dessert or breakfast. Either way, we won’t judge you. All we can say to those of you who try this recipe, is that you have a good eye for epic grub.

  8. S’more Stuffed French Toast

    A s’more is a common night time campfire treat that campers cook up in their campfire. They roast a marshmallow, get a piece of chocolate and sandwich them between two graham crackers. It sounds very basic, but it’s very tasty. A genius created this s’more stuffed French toast recipe. The French might look at this twist of their national dish with disdain, but it’s absolutely fabulous.

  9. Baked Egg French Toast

    Maybe your sweet tooth isn’t calling your name? However, a spot of French toast could really make your day. Here’s a recipe for baked egg French toast. If the sweet tooth calls you after you plate this delicious recipe, just add some maple syrup to answer to its demands.

  10. Baked Chai Spiced French Toast

    If you are looking for something exotic to add to your French toast, you should try this baked chai spiced French toast recipe. So, if you find your mornings are dull and mundane, add some spice with this avant garde French toast recipe.