You salivated over Victoria sponges, pot pies, and Bakewell tarts. Marveled at Paul Hollywood’s piercing blue eyes and admired Mary Berry’s top-notch jacket collection. At some point, you probably couldn’t believe that we Brits actually say things like “soggy bottom” with a straight face or that our idea of a cooking competition involves contestants actually helping each other out. And now you want to know where you can sample the best of the buns, breads and biscuits from the Great British Baking Show. Look no further for your guide to the best #British Famous bakes.
Chelsea Buns at Fitzbillies, Cambridge
Perhaps one of the best moments for Chelsea Buns on the show was when Tamal made them the wheels of his famous “Breadcycle”. Traditionally a swirled, square-ish shape, the Chelsea bun supposedly gets its name from the Old Chelsea Bun House (an establishment favored by Hanoverian royalty), where it was first created in the 18th century. Chelsea Buns are sticky, buttery and sweet, filled with a mixture of currants, brown sugar and butter. Often the dough is flavored with lemon peel and cinnamon.
For classic Chelsea Buns, visit Fitzbillies which bakes them daily in its bakery. Founded in 1921, Fitzbillies, according to its menu, has been “fueling students and dons for nearly a century”.
Cornish Pasties at Philp's, Cornwall (Multiple locations)
Golden, crimped and traditionally stuffed full of meat and vegetables, Cornish pasties are the national dish of Cornwall and serve as a hearty meal eaten either hot or cold. During pastry week in the first (US) season, Richard and Nancy both made their own versions, with Richard winning star baker partly due to his delicious minted lamb pasties. The Cornish pasty, since 2011, has retained Protected Geographical Indication status, meaning that true Cornish pasties must be prepared in Cornwall.
Philp's, a family-owned bakery accredited by the Cornish Pasty Association, freshly bakes their pasties every morning. Grab a couple (because one is never enough!) and, if you’re visiting one of their coastal locations, stroll out to the beach to get the full Cornish experience.
Shortbread at Pinnies & Poppy Seeds, Edinburgh
Shortbread makes regular appearances on the show, often during biscuit week when the bakers need a sturdy biscuit for their showstopper creations. Shortbread originates from Scotland and dates back to the 12th century, although Mary Queen of Scots is often credited with the refinement and popularization of modern shortbread. Shortbread is traditionally created either in one large circle which is divided into segments, individual rounds, or as fingers.
Visit Pinnies & Poppy Seeds, a small, artisan bakery which favors the rounds and bakes their handmade shortbread using local, Scottish ingredients. Be sure to try their Classic All Butter but don’t miss out on their more inventive flavors, such as pistachio and rose, which rotate daily.
Scones at Fortnum & Mason, London
One of the most loved and celebrated British treats is the faithful scone which graces tea tables across Great Britain. Indicative of their high standing in British baking, scones were part of the final technical challenge in season 1 which saw Luis, Nancy and Richard racing to bake classic teatime sweets. Scones can be made with or without fruit (usually raisins or currants) and can be savory or sweet. Some of the best scones in Great Britain are served at decadent afternoon teas (see our Outdoor Afternoon Tea guide for more inspiration) and are accompanied by clotted cream and fruit jam.
Fortnum & Mason’s afternoon tea is renowned worldwide and the scones are wonderfully light. You can choose either plain or fruit versions with Somerset clotted cream, Strawberry preserves, and lemon curd.
Meat Pies at Clark’s, Cardiff
We Brits love our pies whether they’re filled with game, steak and ale, pork and jelly, or four and twenty blackbirds. Just kidding. Meat pies are, indeed, a classic British dish, and were celebrated on the show in season 1 during Pastry Week when the bakers made three-tiered pies, as well as during the wonderful Victorian Week in season 3. We will never forget how casually Ian remarked on using roadkill for his game pies. Pies were originally introduced by the Romans who made their pie crust out of oil and flour. Traditional British pies were made with lard and butter and the thick crust was deemed perfect for preserving the meat and vegetable fillings.
Clark’s uses a closely-guarded family recipe that is over 100 years old and produces their “Clarpies” with a thick short crust pastry. Be wary of A Clark’s Tash (burning the upper lip) and The Hanging Gardens of Grangetown (burning the lower lip) as you eat your potato and beef pie.