Whether it’s a sweet, buttery shortcrust or a delicate filo, many British specialties use pastry as their base. Join us on a journey as we discover some of the must-try UK comfort foods that you won’t want to miss on your visit to Britain!
This is the ultimate pastry extravaganza — juicy fillet steak covered with foie gras (or truffled paté, in some cases) and duxelles, and wrapped in light, buttery puff pastry. Arguably named after the Duke of Wellington, this is Britain’s answer to boeuf en croute and this decadent dish is a favourite at weddings and dinner parties. Its wow-factor ingredients make it the perfect choice for a special occasion.
This West Country classic now has protected status specifying that each pastry product bearing this name must have been prepared in Cornwall. The crimp-edged semicircular snack is filled with skirt steak, diced potato, swede, onion and seasoning, and any visit to the southwest should include a sampling of this famous fare. Other fillings are available throughout the region, including pork and apple or even sweet varieties such as banana and chocolate (although purists will insist that these are not strictly considered a ‘Cornish’ pasty.)
Pie and Mash
No theatre break to London would be complete without trying this Cockney cuisine, an East End favourite that was once the staple of the working classes. It’s a simple, hearty dish — beef mince encased in cold water pastry and served with a scoop of mashed potato, all topped with a parsley liquor. You’ll find a few pie and mash shops still going strong in the capital, and some even have their original marble tabletops and white-tiled walls which date back to the first half of the 20th century.
Lemon Meringue Pie
Nothing says British like this traditional dessert, with its sweet shortcrust base, rich lemon curd layer and fluffy meringue topping. Dating back to the 19th century, it’s a light and lemony family favourite, perfect served warm or cold. It makes a great accompaniment to afternoon tea, or a refreshing summer pudding.
Those with a sweet tooth will love this Kentish classic — a shortcrust base filled with a gooey mix of evaporated milk and muscovado sugar. Most bakeries in the southeast will sell this pleasing pastry product, fondly remembered as a school dinner staple by anyone who grew up in the seventies and eighties.
Dating back to medieval times, a typical English apple pie is true pastry perfection. Whether it’s a double-crusted dessert or a lattice-topped tart, nothing says home cooking like this simple sweet dish. Made with stewed and sweetened cooking apples, this versatile pastry pudding is the pièce de résistance for any English meal, accompanied by a generous helping of whipped cream, ice cream or custard.
Bakewell Tart or Pudding
Another sweet treat for pastry lovers, this specialty confection comes in two tantalizing forms. With a shortcrust base, a layer of jam and a sponge laced with frangipane (sweet almond paste), the Bakewell tart is often iced and topped with a cherry. The Bakewell pudding, on the other hand, consists of flaky pastry, jam and an egg and almond filling. Cherry is the flavour of choice for an authentic Bakewell, although other jams are often used, including strawberry, apple or lemon.
Popular at parties or buffets, this savoury pastry snack is available at most English bakeries. The succulent sausage meat is wrapped in crumbly puff pastry with an egg or milk glaze and can be eaten hot or cold. Recipes for this takeaway favourite date back to the 18th century, which means it’s a true British mainstay food, and the perfect lunchtime delicacy.
You won’t want to miss out on this traditional meat pie, made with roughly chopped pork and hot water crust pastry. Common pies use cured pork, whereas the perfect pie — a Melton Mowbray, named after the Leicestershire town in which it originated — uses uncured, and is made with a hand-formed crust making it irregular in shape. Available in various sizes, this meaty masterpiece is perfect for picnics on an English summer day.
Not to be confused with the Spanish dessert of the same name, this lunchtime staple is Britain’s answer to quiche. An open-faced pastry base is filled with a savoury custard and can be embellished with whatever takes your fancy. Whether it’s summery salmon and asparagus, heart-warming ham, pea and mint, or succulent smoked haddock and spinach, this savoury tart is a beloved addition to any British meal.
This post was written and provided by Show and Stay, the UK’s theatre trip providers.
Flickr images by vissago – byr105063 – purplemattfish – fromform.