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sábado, abril 28

British desserts


(Going on with British gastronomy... - read at Expats' Telegraph on April 24th)

Battenberg cake is said to have been invented in 1884, in honour of the marriage of Queen Victoria's granddaughter, Victoria of Hesse-Darmsadt, to the German prince Louis of Battenberg. Like Coronation Chicken, created for our Queen's coronation nearly 70 years later, it was so popular it never went away.

Eton mess, a sickly-sweet mixture of strawberries, meringue and cream dates back to at least the 19th century, and is a traditional feature of Eton College's annual cricket game against Winchester Collge. Supposedly, it was originally equally common to have it with bananas.

The sweet and sticky Chelsea bun is one of Britain's oldest treats, thought to have been invented in the 1700s at the Bun House in Chelsea, a favourite haunt of high society. The house closed in 1839, but the bun lived on.

A rather more modern invention, the banoffee pie was supposedly the brainchild of the Hungry Monk restaurant in Sussex in the 1970s. Today it's often made with a biscuit crumb base, but the original recipe called for pastry.

The wonderfully-named flummery pudding is thought to have been a Welsh dish that was later adopted by the English. Traditionally oatmeal-based, today there are many variations around the world, with the name often referring to a kind of fruit custard or mousse.

The almond-and-jam flavoured Bakewell pudding has been eaten in Britain for at least 200 years. Closely related to the Bakwell tart (which is usually made with shortcrust pastry instead of puff), it is sometimes claimed it was an accidental invention of a maid in Bakewell.

Anyone who grew up in Kent will remember gypsy tart, an unusual dessert made from evaporated milk and muscovado sugar which was once a frequent feature on school dinner menus. The story goes that a Kentish woman invented it when she wanted to make a treat for a local gypsy family, but only had a few ingredients in her kitchen.

The lardy cake, a type of spiced bread filled with currants and raisins, is said to have been invented by the bakery-owning Caswell family in Wiltshire in the 19th century.

The first known recipe for trifle – a wobbling concoction of custard, cream, alcohol-soaked cake or bread and jelly – was published in the 1500s though then it was little more than a flavoured milk cream. In Italy, there's a not dissimilar dessert called zuppa inglese, or "English soup" that trifle probably inspired.

An essential component of afternoon tea, the scone is believed back to date as far back centuries. There's no real certainty on how the word should be pronounced, and as to whether it's best eaten with a layer of clotted cream, then jam or vice versa.
Eccles cakes are, unsurprisingly, named after the town of Eccles in Greater Manchester, where they are thought to have been manufactured from at least the late 1700s. Banbury cakes, which hark from the Oxfordshire town of Banbury, are very similar, but a little more oval in shape.
Christmas or plum pudding is thought to go back as far as the medieval period, though it was not always associated with Christmas time. It is possibly related to plum pottage, a mix of meat, vegetables, dried fruits and sugar which was a way of preserving meat through the winter.

A childhood favourite, the jam roly-poly pudding used to be nicknamed "dead man's arm" or "dead man's leg" because families often steamed and served it wrapped in an old shirt sleeve. Probably a Victorian invention, it's mentioned in Mrs Beeton's famous cookery book.
Famous for prompting generations of schoolchildren to dissolve in fits of giggles, spotted dick is another steamed pudding, this time containing dried fruit such as currants. The "spotted" element is probably a reference to the fruit, while "dick" is likely to be a corruption of the word "pudding", or "dough".

Popular since Tudor times, syllabub is a rich creamy dessert of milk or cream which has been curdled with alcohol. A staple at celebrations for centuries, some believe it was originally more of a punch than a dessert. Where the name comes from has never been confirmed.

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