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||Hi Nicey, Wifey and YMS|
Very interesting, this bun/cake interpretation. Being a southerner, I'm with you on the definitions. However, what about those "barm cakes" they're always ordering from the caff in Coronation Street? They definitely appear to be a kind of bap or roll with a savoury filling. (I may be going back a few years - haven't actually watched it for ages, but it was in the days when Madge and Alf ran the corner shop).
Then of course, you have things like fish cakes and potato cakes - they definitely don't have sugar in them. Next we'll be onto tarts and pies. And don't get me started on flans - when in Spain, "flan" is actually creme caramel.....
I think we'll just have to accept that we all have different words for things, depending on where we live or grew up, or which tv programmes we watch! All part of the wonderful variety of life, giving us plenty of topics for debate in the office when we have nothing better to do!
Best wishes to all
I can't remember what directed me to your website, possibly the Metro newspaper. But i'm grateful for whatever it was. I love it!
My friends at work and I are tea/biscuit/cake addicts. Many an hour is spent discussing what's the best biscuit/teabag (only PG tips!), and so on. Usually we come to some kind of agreement. But a while ago, we had a debate that went on for weeks...
'What's the difference between a cake and a bun?'
At first we thought it was a north/south divide (i'm a yorkshire girl myself). I say a cake is a big thing that has to be cut up, and a bun comes in an individual case. My colleague said a bun is a bready affair, like a Chelsea bun. I said this wasn't exclusively true, and the debate raged on and on...
Eventually I won the argument by presenting him with 3 separate, non-regional recipes with 'Bun' in the title and no yeast in the recipe (his rules, not mine).
Anyway, I'm interested in your opinion on this important matter. Perhaps you should do a poll and see what your esteemed readers think?
Thanks again for your wonderful site, I shall be sending the link to everyone I like.
-Lizzy Arnott x
(note: I'm an Arnott, my partner is a Crawford, it's like the coming together of two great
|Nicey replies: This is the subject of an internal dispute at NCOTAASD HQ. Wifey who is both Northern and Irish maintains like yourself that small cakes in paper cases are buns. Where as I'm Southern having spent most of my life south of a line that connects the Wash to North Wales. I would consider a bun to some form of small sweetened or spiced bread as exemplified by the Hot Cross Bun.
Perhaps we should ask some elephants as they are supposed to eat buns.
It may well be that your North South explanation is the correct one, and that effectively we have two languages, NOrthen English and Southern English which have a different definition of a bun. This could serve as a useful addition to my dodgy geo-location technique which uses biscuit quality and Marmite tolerance to work out latitude and longitude. When in the UK bun interpretation could also tell you roughly if your were north or south of Birmingham.
Love your website and sense of humour, and especially the original spelling and grammar together with the Joycian rambling off into thoughts far removed. From what? Oh yes, tea and biscuits.
My parents took us from the UK in 1959, when tea was loose and landed us in in Nova Scotia, Canada. Tea is big here, and the vast consumption of it a bit of a giggle to the rest of the country. By 1959, teabags had already displaced most loose tea, and we couldn't get a decent cuppa anywhere except at home. Then we discovered that all the tea came from Kenya and is called orange pekoe. I therefore became distraught at British colonial policy which obviously meant all the decent Indian tea was intercepted shortly after being picked and sent to the UK, leaving the rest of the world to choke down inferior brews. This, I believe, was as a distinct policy decision to make up for the Boston Tea Party, when nascent Americans invented iced tea by brewing it in the harbour.
Nevertheless, my Mum soon discovered the universal "socials", at which other Mums would gather round to discuss their favourite topic or charity. These events were usually chronicled in the local paper with a description of the gathering, and Always the following note: "Mrs. So and So poured". Some of these ladies poured so much tea that they became very good at it, and championships had evolved by about 1885. Of course, my Mum quickly discovered that the nibblies offered at these socials were called ookies -- argh On the other hand, some of these things had morphed into what is generally known as "squares". Never seen anything like them in Blighty, but they have biscuits beaten by a country mile most of the time, as they are homemade, soft, gooey, quite often have lots of choccy nuts and jam in them and make you burp after the third cuppa. The most popular cookie, oh all right biscuit was then and still is the chocolate chip, which is made in every variety from hard like bourbons to gooey bits of mostly chocolate held together with undercooked dough. Hmm... Oreos are industrial floor sweepings and sugar baked into a hard and not very nice biccy. Don't like 'em at all, but some people are addicted. Rats.
The "cookie" aisle at local supermarkets has well over 200 varieties of biscuits, but most aren't much good, although Dare Marshmallow Puffs aren't bad. These are, I should think, similar to Tunnocks tea cakes, but my brother and I used to put them in the fridge until they were cold and then you could pop the chocolate covering off them with your lips, leaving the white blob of marshmallow quivering on the biscuit, hiding the jam under it. Or you treat it like a boiled egg and smack its crown with a teaspoon, splintering the chocolate just enough to allow its removal from the clinging marshmallow with your fingers. Then while the cold chocolate gradually melted in your mouth, you could keep a close eye on the marshmallow, and decide how you were going to dispatch this particular specimen. You could lift it off the biscuit with your tongue and roll it around your mouth while it quietly dissolved, leaving the jammy biscuit behind, or in a fit of venal hunger bite right into the marshmallow and biscuit and chew it up. Delicious.
As you know Wagon Wheels were an invention of Westons, which was a Canadian outfit. Having been quite unimpressed as a schoolboy in Britain with these things, we were eager to find out what the real thing was like. Just as bad with a faint whiff of decaying straw, which every wagon wheel seems to have. Maybe that's the grain content.
There are many makes of digestives, but none of them taste like McVities. We still have Peek Freans here, but the funny little biscuits with the oven-hardened red jam blob in the middle taste remarkably like sawdust, and the tasteless jam sticks to your teeth for far too long. The bourbons are dreadful as well, being hard and with concrete-like filling and the digestives are merely passable. We had Marks and Sparks here for about 15 years, but despite their best efforts, they were unable to convince Canada that having all their goods arrayed around with snooty sales ladies and no pizazz was the marketing wave of the future. However, while they were here, at least people who had visited the UK and knew about M&S could get decent tea and biscuits, along with tinned cock-a-leekie soup, which I understand was a smash bestseller to expatriate Welshmen. The trouble with M&S stuff is that whilst being of first class quality, it never tastes like the original, does it? Something not quite right.
After ten years of living in the colonies, I returned to London to take postgrad studies, and in my five years there downed so many cuppas and biscuits, it was all a bit of a blur really. Tescos were just starting up and were infested with grim-faced women buying the basics in pretty grimy locations like Lamb's Conduit Way, where one had to pass by the proprietor of an Indian restaurant who would call out the wondrousness of his curries and especially Bombay Duck as we Canadians tried to look the other way hurrying to buy some biscuits and a loaf of bread. By the way, ordinary bread in the UK is the best I've ever found by a long shot. I just can't enjoy a decent boiled egg without a proper slice of bread that's both chewy and heavy. Our loaves here weigh a pound and are the same size, which makes them fluffy enough to blow away in a light breeze, but not suitable as a gustatory complement to a humble egg. On the other hand, Britain invented Batchelors dehyrated peas and Vesta curries so you can't have everything your way can you.
Fast forward to 1993 when I made my last trip to the UK, and managed to visit nearly all the friends I made while living in London, this meant travelling the length and breadth of the Uk including the Isle of Islay and quite a few drams of damn good whisky. Where was I, oh yes -- In Manchester, I had to give up tea-drinking by 6pm one day, as I counted back to the beginning of the day whilst sequestered in the loo and realized I had had 23 cups at six different places and a couple of real Eccles cakes from that place in Eccles which claims to have invented them. Very nice but felt a bit queasy.
So now I read on your website that tea consumption is down a lot due to youngsters drinking too much juice and coke, which is a real pity because it leads to diabetes all that sugar. Plus, there's nothing like a quiet gathering with a nice cuppa and a biscuit or three. Anyway, I now buy Brooke Bond tea packaged in India from a local merchant so as to get the real tea flavour I like and make it properly as it's loose. Not like the leaf tea of my youth to look at, little hard granules that explode in boiling water. Not bad at all. On the other hand, besides biscuits of many varieties that would be instantly recognizable to you, we also get stuff from Poland, Germany, France, Belgium and the Netherlands which I have endeavoured to try. I should think that anyone from the aforementioned countries who visited the UK and had a decent cuppa and a UK biscuit would not want to return home. Good Lord, what are these things? Dry, crumbly biccies that don't travel well at all. Our Canadian stuff is much more like yours than these continental things. The Dutch try the hardest, but the German ones come in big bags without liners which mean they get crushed just getting here. I mean Britain gave the world hardtack, didn't it, and if that wasn't the beginning of the digestive, I don't know what is. Unbreakable unless dropped on its edge just so.
Funnily enough, the very best tea I've ever been offered anywhere at a commercial place was in the USA, and I can recommend it highly. Visit the Acadia National Park in Maine, and wonder of wonders, the US National Parks Service serves tea in the garden and adjacent meadow at picnic tables in summer during the late afternoon. It is brought by attractive college students working their summer jobs there and arrives in a giant green porcelain teapot with Parks Service logo together with proper cups and saucers and milk and sugar. Just couldn't believe it when it happened, so had to have another pot with my parents. Wow. Who'd have ever believed it, the setting was perfect, the tea divine. So unexpected.
Well I've written far too much and don't understand those icons, so don't know where this fits. But keep up the good work, I laugh my head off reading it and none of my friends understand why when I show them. I think I'll have a nice cup of tea and read some more, because I'm already sitting down.
|Nicey replies: Thanks Bruce for that mammoth message, and all of that useful information on Canada, its biscuits, cakes and its tea. Also thanks for the tip off about a place in America that makes a decent cup of tea, after four years I think we may be edging towards double figures on that. You also managed a fairly respectable icon haul. If you had kept going a bit longer I'm sure you would have most of the others, and I felt particularly that the kettle and toast icons where within your grasp at one point. |
||Both me and my collegue Mr Nadar have long lamented the disappearance of the celebrated Lemon Puff, which I think was a Peak Freans product. The broad perforated rectangular glazed puff sandwich with its delicious lemon cream filling - a corner-stone of 70s and 80s biscuit tins - was a perfect foil to its heavier based chocolate based counterparts such as the Bourbon.|
The Lemon Puff has resurfaced recently, as an inferior roundel I fear, reintroduced by the supermarkets, and it's not the same: we may have been duped about the shrinking size of a Wagon Wheel, but Rich Tea doesn't seem to have diminished in size one bit, and we cannot be fooled for a moment about the shape, and more generous proportions of the old rectangular Lemon Puff.
I await its appearence on your otherwise excellent website.
PS - have you any info on Kunzle Cakes?
|Nicey replies: Indeed as far as I recall the Lemon Puff was a Peek Frean biscuit and so its custodian-ship moved to Jacobs in due course. As I have often said I respected the lemon puff of old, despite not really liking it.. We had a couple attempts at reviewing the modern and inferior round ones but they were too grim.
As for Kunzle Cakes, I never had one but they sound amazing, there is a very good blog devoted to them.
Terrific site by the way and thought I would put my pennyworth in for a rare item. I am aware of your wary classification of "slices" but remember a particular confection from my army days called a nelson slice which I believe was the first and possibly only hybrid of a biscuit and a cake.
I served as a boy soldier from 65-68 (its a bit like public school but run by pyschopaths) and during a break from being screamed at and run round the square the WRVS used to set up a tea stall and to cater for our meagre wages (we got a quid a week!!) by giving us 1.5 pint mugs of tea and a nelson slice. This was a wonderful confection comprising of a top and bottom layer of the hardest pastry like biscuit with a filling of moist cake like a bread pudding, the whole lot being topped by the most lurid icing in a peculiar pink colour. The whole thing weighed about a LB and lay at the bottom of your stomach like a land mine. The thing is after eating it you were obliged to sit down as standing was impossible. The whole lot came to something like 2.5p in new money and numbed your brain with its calories and e numbers so you could carry on with the abusive regime. (ah happy days!)
Does anyone else remember these and particularly those wonderful souls of the WRVS who believed that even the most tragic case (arm dropping off, death of a close relative) could be cured by a liberal dose of tea, biscuits and nelson slices.
Regards and more power to your elbow (watch those crumbs)
|Nicey replies: Excellent, a military multi-role training biscuit/cake/slice. I wonder what Nelson had to do with it?