baked goods

Overheard an exchange at the supermarket today. An elderly (English) lady asked an (English) employee, "Where are the scones?" And he replied "There are scones just there." She laughed and said "You say scons, I say scoans. It's just one of those things." I recall debating with friends in Illinois nearly 20 years ago about what the "correct" pronunciation of scone was--that is, which was the more British. But, as our little supermarket drama points out, they're both English. John Wells at University College London has done a survey (NB: link is pdf file), finding that two-thirds of the 2000 Britons surveyed prefer the pronunciation that rhymes with con. He found no differences between the north and the south of England, but Scotland is solid 'scon' territory.

One of my favo(u)rite in-class activities is to have my students work in teams to create lexical field box diagrams (a way of representing the relations between word meanings) for terms for baked goods. This never fails to create vigorous debate, as one needs to decide things like "Is a scone a bread or a cake?" or "Is a bagel a type of roll?" Part of what makes the debates so complicated is the differing extents to which American English has infiltrated the class. (God help any American exchange students in this activity.) Not only is the range of baked goods in the two countries quite different (and taste preferences are quite different too), but even the words for the common items are often different.

Scones are sometimes likened to American biscuits, which one of the great lies of our time. I'm seriously wondering at the fact that there haven't been any wars about it.  Scones and biscuits are only as similar as British muffins are to what Americans call English muffins. Superficially, they look the same, but the tastes and textures are very different. American muffins (e.g. blueberry muffins) have made their way to the UK and become popular, though I have heard older people react to them with puzzlement--"that's not a muffin, that's a cake!"

The most recent Waitrose Food Illustrated magazine includes a letter to the editor that calls for a campaign to resist the word cupcake for what would traditionally be called a fairy cake (pictured) in BrE. To me, the two things are a bit different, with fairy cakes being smaller and typically a specific kind of sponge cake (traditionally with icing), whereas a cupcake is a cup-sized cake of any sort. You can get fairy cakes of other types, but the assumption upon hearing "fairy cake" is that it's a vanilla sponge.

British biscuits would be called crackers in AmE if they're savo(u)ry or cookies if they're sweet, but American cookies have made definite inroads here in the past few years, with cookie shops like Ben's Cookies (my favo(u)rite: peanut) and Millie's Cookies (my favo(u)rite: raspberry and white chocolate) serving American-style cookies. One wouldn't call those biscuits, as they're soft. My dad (what a guy!) sent me Christmas cookies the last time I was in England for the holidays. (One needs familiar baked goods at holidays, I think, and in the UK it's all about mince pies [AmE prefers mincemeat pies].) I showed Better Half how we put a slice of bread in the cookie tin in order to keep the cookies soft. He looked at me in horror and said, "Why would you want to do that?"

Digestive biscuits, or digestives for short, are somewhat like American graham crackers--though they differ in shape (round vs rectangular), and I often find digestives to be a bit greasier than graham crackers. My personal favo(u)rite UK biscuit is the malted milk biscuit (pictured), or if I'm feeling super-naughty the milk chocolate malted milk biscuit--with a layer of chocolate on the bottom.

One could go on and on about baked good differences. Ok, one will.

As an American, I can make a sandwich using sliced bread, a roll, a bagel, whatever. In the UK, sandwiches are made with sliced bread, and anything else is called by the name of the bread it's in--for example, a ham and cheese baguette. A bacon roll is bacon inside a roll that's been sliced in half (usually with ketchup or brown sauce), and is a popular hangover treatment. Just to confuse you, a sausage roll is not a sausage sandwich made with a roll, but a sausage baked in flaky pastry. The closest American equivalent is a pig-in-a-blanket, which, when and where I was a child, referred to a sausage (often a hot dog), wrapped in bread or (American) biscuit dough and cooked. Nowadays, I mostly see it referring to sausages wrapped in pancakes (about which more below).

Baps (BrE; pictured left) are soft rolls for making sandwiches with, and also a crude term for a woman's breasts. (Channel 4 recently ended an advertisement for the film [AmE prefers movie] The Gift with "...and Katie Holmes gets her baps out!" Apparently, the highlight of the film.) Baps (the baked kind, too) are softer than a Kaiser roll (AmE; pictured right), more like a hamburger bun, though American hamburger buns are typically rather brown on the outside, and baps aren't. Better Half tells me that barmy cake is a Northern term for a bap or a bap-like roll, but I've found little printed evidence of it, besides a number of sandwich shop names. [Postscript: see comments for a correction.]

Hamburger bun is odd to English ears because buns are usually thought of as being sweet, such as Chelsea bun (pictured), currant bun and hot cross bun (also found in the US).

The god of British baked goods is the crumpet (pictured), which is kind of cheating, as it isn't actually baked. Crumpets are made on a griddle, though I've never known anyone who makes their own. They are heavenly, and because of their relation to American pancakes (though crumpets have yeast), I like to eat them very un-Britishly with butter and maple syrup, but they're equally euphoria-inducing with raspberry jam. (American pancakes, by the way, are thicker than British pancakes, which are more like crèpes. We eat them with different things and at different times. Be cautious in ordering "American pancakes" in UK restaurants, as they're often not cooked all the way through. A lovely British tradition is treating Shrove Tuesday, i.e. the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, as Pancake Day.) The last time I was in the US, the international section of our megasupermarket had something called crumpets, but they looked nothing like the kind you get here. They looked more like thick, misshapen pancakes. I didn't dare try them, as the disappointment of a bad (and overpriced!) crumpet would be very, very keen. Pikelet is another (regional) word for crumpet, sometimes specifically applied to a flatter type of crumpet. Crumpet, you probably know, is also dated (sometimes crude) slang for an attractive person (usually a woman) or sometimes a term of endearment.

Of course there are many many more cakes and breads and rolls and such that are different in the two countries, but my main aim here (as ever) was to point out differences in the language for them. I'm sure others will fill in some of the items I've missed here...


  1. There's a lively discussion about muffins, crumpets, pikelets and the like at a forum I frequent (a pleasantly friendly and un-flamey forum), with AWSOME, BRILLIANT ( ;-) ) full-colo{u}r photographs, if you'd like to visit. You don't have to join to read:,315.0.html

  2. Thanks, Howard.

    I should add another I thought of later last night (on the topic of sandwiches), the butty, as in bacon butty. It's a sandwich with some main filling and butter. The weirdest to American sensibilities is the chip butty, a sandwich of chips, i.e. AmE (thick) french fries. Of course I could have also gotten into sub(marine)s (now found here, thanks to the ubiquitous Subway), heroes, hoagies, po'boys, etc., but didn't want to get too far off on the sandwich tangent. Perhaps that should be its own post some day.

    The chip butty reminds me of a similar starch-on-starch English comfort food: beans on toast (i.e. BrE tinned/AmE canned baked beans poured over a slice of toast. There was a cartoon in The New Yorker in the 90s in which a man says to a waiter: "Would it be possible to get baked beans on toast? I'm not British--I'm just crazy."

    Oh, and my other favo(u)rite way to eat crumpets (again, with a decidedly American flavo(u)r): Toast the crumpet. Put a slice of Cheddar or similar cheese on it. Put under the (BrE) grill/(AmE) broiler until cheese melts and browns a little. Smother with A1 sauce and eat with knife and fork.

    A1 Steak Sauce is a beautiful, beautiful thing that cannot be explained. No, it's not Brown Sauce, though it is brown and has some ingredients in common. If you're really curious and live near London, Fortunum and Mason sells it for £12(!!!!) a bottle. I have my own private supply more economically imported in my luggage, but you'll have to get me into some sort of cosmic debt to you before I'll share any!

  3. When I was student in Hull 30 years ago a bread roll was called a bread cake. In Manchester at the same time they were known as Barm Cakes, the only time I have heard this since is on Coronation Street on TV!!

    BTW I just love A1 Steak Sauce having been introduced to it by my sister who lives in NY. She brings it over for me. Yum.

  4. Aha, it's barm cake, not barmy cake. Thanks, Jas. Many more internet hits for that one. Down here in the Sowff no one uses the term.

  5. I thought a pikelet involved potatoes? Or is that a farl?

    I really think someone should write a book on this. A Grocery Guide to the U.K.

    And first off, of course, would be figuring out the difference between a superstore and a grocery store.

  6. Once when my English friend came to visit I gave him English muffins for breakfast. He must've liked them because the next time he came to visit he requested "some of those English muffiny things."

  7. Kathy--you're probably thinking of farls, but not all farls are potato farls. there's an article about them on wikipedia, if you're interested.

  8. Another postscript:

    One of my students just pointed out that CyberCandy sell(s) A1 Sauce for £3.99 (though it is a smaller size than the £12 one at F&M):

  9. Speaking of candy, I was reading someone's site and they mentioned wine gums. Is there an equivalent in the US? Is it like a gumdrop? Why are they called wine gums if there is no wine in them?

  10. Gumdrops are extremely soft compared to wine gums. I'm not a big eater of gum-type candies (AmE)/sweets (BrE) (except for Haribo Tangfastics, which I find strangely addictive), but I think American (not Canadian) jujubes are a similar consistency, from the descriptions on wikipedia. I see that there are some varieties called soft wine gums, which might well be softer, but I've not tried them as I'm not a wine gum fan.

    They're supposedly called wine gums as the different flavo(u)rs are supposed to remind you of the bouquets of various wines.

  11. I swear I left a comment on this on Sunday, but it must not have posted. Frustrating. (To me)

    My husband is from Durham, while I'm from Yorkshire, and although there are only 100m between our birth places, linguistically they are planets apart. What I refer to as a 'bun', he calls a 'fairy cake' or a 'little cake'. To him, a 'bun' is bread. I call all round floury bread things 'teacakes' whereas he insists a teacake must have currants in it. In Durham they have a thing called a 'stottie' (pronounced with a glottal stop) which is larger than a bread bap/bun and slightly more doughy. They dont' have them down south and although we do have them in Yorkshire, he swears blind they're not as good as the ones found in Durham and Newcastle. They're traditionally eaten with ham and pease pudding.

    To me, a barm cake is definitely a Lancastrian term and as a Yorkshirewoman I'm contractually bound to never say it ;)

  12. Pikelets...

    Well, for international comparison, pikelets in New Zealand are similar to 'hotcakes', I suppose. Smaller than pancakes, and thicker (possibly similar in thickness to amerian pancakes), they often contain golden syrup, and are served warm or cold with whipped cream and jam. Or butter and jam. They look and taste nothing like crumpets, and do not contain yeast. Very difficult to find a photo -

    My father was Headmaster of a city primary school when computers first came into use in the office area. The new comptuer had an automatic spell check ability that every was in awe of. American English, of course. One day, they had typed up the school notice to be sent home to over 600 children, notifying parents that there was to be a school pikelet day and would everyone please bring six pikelets to school. Unfortunately the spell check didn't like the word pikelete and changed it to 'piglet'. This error was not picked up until all the photocopying of hundreds of school notices had been done...

    We also have things called 'gems' which are baked in a very heavy cast-iron 'gem iron' and served hot with butter. The main version are 'ginger gems'. They're rather oldfashioned now, though.

  13. Found a good link to ginger gems on another blog - plus photos!. Ginger Gems

  14. There's regional variation in the U.S. in the names for pancakes: they are also called hotcakes, griddlecakes, and flapjacks. Some of these may be obsolete--I know I've never encountered "flapjacks" in real life.

  15. Flapjack is another word that translates wrong. In the UK, a flapjack is a sweet bar made of oats, something sweet like honey or treacle (AmE= molasses), and sometimes dried fruit, coconut or other flavo(u)rings. The closest US thing is a granola bar.

  16. Sorry to be slow to chime in on this one, but I've been out of town. I've been in Seattle...where what *I* would call a "hoagie" (is that spelled right?) or a "sub" is called a "grinder"! (THAT one made John and I BOTH laugh!)

    John (my Brit) and I have fallen for a food combination that's very American/British. We eat crumpets with peanut butter...but ONLY the American variety, not the less flavoUrful British variety.


  17. That's interesting, as grinder is known as a New England thing...are you sure it was a Seattle native using the word?

    There's a map of sandwich-name preferences in the US here.

  18. Got a question for you, since we're on the subject of sandwiches. Are pb&j sandwiches not common in the UK? I was reading a British expat board and the subject was something like grossest food in America... several people mentioned pb&j. That surprised me since it is so common (and well-loved) here.

    That just reminded me, growing up my brothers and I used to eat fluffernutter sandwiches (peanut butter and marshmallow fluff). (My parents are East Coasters).

  19. No, they don't eat pb&j here, as a rule. In fact, a lot of Britons just don't like peanut butter, including Better Half. He says, "it dries my mouth out". I say, "that's why you need the jelly/jam.

    Part of the reason that it sounds disgusting to British ears is the thought of 'jelly' going in a sandwich, since jelly here means 'gelatin' ('Jell-o'). It's not just that AmE jelly = BrE jam, though. Jelly is a particular kind of jammy thing--which you don't tend to see here. A classic form of the pb&j has grape jelly, which just doesn't exist here. (Of course, you can make a pb&j with strawberry jam or any other kind of jam--but we still call them peanut butter and jelly, rather than peanut butter and jam.) I have a feeling I'll want to do a proper post on this sometime--but no more food for a while!

  20. I'm also a lass from lancashire and a barmcake is a heavenly thing. Try it with tongue and coleslaw or mustard mmmm! lovely

  21. Some pubs in the rural parts of Essex serve “huffers” which I believe are unique to the County: they are large bap type rolls with a filling(s) of choice e.g. beef; tuna; etc. I find that they are really too large to finish!

  22. A1 sauce? Bleh. Give me proper Worcestershire sauce any day!

  23. Just to add that here in Aberdeen, in Scotland, soft bread rolls are also known as 'softies' - since there are so many other varieties of rolls around. Hence while a 'bacon roll' is as you described it, the term 'sausage softie' nicely dodges the confusion with the pastry-wrapped 'sausage roll'.

  24. Regarding the pronunciation of scone, if you include the Scottish place name there are three variants - the ancient location for Scottish coronations is pronounced scoon.

  25. Pancakes here in Scotland are thicker than in England, and more or less identical (I am a layman in these things) to the ones in the US. I love having a US breakfast with pancakes: they really are wonderful with maple syrup.

    I DO like peanut butter, and I love PBJs as well, having had my first one ever in Eleanor Tynsley Park in Houston on the fourth of July 2004.

    By the way, the best US biscuits I have ever tasted were in a Red Lobster and served before the food arrived.

    1. Red Lobster cheddar bay biscuits are so addictive there are songs about them! You can buy the mix at Target.

  26. Just to add some more regional flavo{u}r. In the West Midlands of the UK, especially in Warwickshire, bread rolls are known not as baps, but batches. This word seems interchangeaboe with butty, too, so one could (if you so wished) enjoy a chip batch.

    And in some areas, particularly Birmingham/Black Country, bapsare called cobs, too.

  27. In contrast to your other Yorkshire commenter, we had bread buns where I was growing up in East Yorkshire, although my Mum, who grew up in Hull, says that they were teacakes when she was small.

    I agree on the small cakes = buns though!

    Also, I have just realised that 'oven bottoms' outside the north

  28. What a marvellous blog this is. I've no idea how I found you, but I am so pleased that I did.

    I'll add a little of my own knowledge - Barm cakes are so called because they are made with 'barm'or'yeast' in common English.

  29. Once and for all...Jujubes (JUE-jue-beeze) ARE NOT soft! I often read of Americans leading unsuspecting foreigners astray by assuring them that Jujubes are somehow congruent to a gumdrop. I cannot fathom why people conflate them with "Dots" which are an non-sugar-coated soft, gumdrop often sold in movie theatres. Gumdrops are essentially the same thing, but with a granulated white sugar coating. If you've ever wondered how they keep the ceramic tiles on the space shuttle, it's Jujubes.
    And BTW, everyone I know says "mince pie" not mincemeat.

  30. Greetings, all! A very interesting disussion indeed! In what I think was the original posting dated 22 July 2006, the writer, lynneguist, said of the term "crumpet" that: "Crumpet, you probably know, is also dated (sometimes crude) slang for an attractive person (usually a woman) or sometimes a term of endearment." Has anyone, especially Lynne, heard anyone use the word "crumpet" this way, particularly recently? The reason I ask is because there is the term "strumpet" which, of course, sounds a lot like "crumpet" and which was, and still is, a word applied to prostitutes, attractive or not. Could this use of "crumpet" be akin to a euphemism for "strumpet"? I've never heard "crumpet" used as a term of endearment, but of course I don't live in the UK, Sweetiepie!

  31. Google "bit of crumpet", and you'll get lots of examples.

  32. It's strange, but in Australia people almost exclusively say "biscuits" not "cookies", yet the packaging when you buy them in a shop almost exclusively says "cookies", not "biscuits". This curious situation has been stable for a long time now.

    I have to mention fairy bread, which is white bread that's been buttered and had hundreds-and-thousands sprinkled all over it. It is usually cut into quarters diagonally and is extremely common at Australian childrens' parties.

    In my experience, the very idea of fairy bread tends to make British people turn up their noses when they see it or hear about it. For some reason, the British appear to believe that sprinkling hundreds-and-thousands on buttered white bread (or any sort of bread) is a weird thing to do.

  33. For the Americans out there:

    (BrE--and AusE, it seems) hundreds and thousands = sprinkles or in parts of New England, jimmies. I think there may be some other regional terms for them.

  34. Well ... except that hundreds-and-thousands are a very specific type of sprinkles. In AusE (and I assume in BrE), sprinkles are usually cylindrical and only one colour per jar, whereas hundreds-and-thousands refer exclusively to the spherical, many-coloured type.

  35. Sprinkles has that specific meaning in my dialect too. If they're round, they're balls. One puts sprinkles on ice cream, but you can also get them on doughnuts or cookies.

  36. Hi, I'm new here, and was led to this post by your most recent one. Your blog is fascinating.

    But I've got a question that hasn't been answered here to the best of my knowledge. What is the British term for an American-style biscuit? Scones, IME, aren't the same thing at all except superficially in appearance (for one thing, scones often have Stuff like raisins baked into them, and biscuits don't -- the batter and the way you shape them aren't the same, either, come down to it).

    Or do Brits just not eat American-style biscuits, in which case I'm really sorry to hear that.


  37. American-style biscuits are not found in the UK. But don't feel bad for the British--they have the far superior (in my opinion) crumpets, generally not found in the US, to make up for it.

    (I grew up with American-style biscuits, but never liked them particularly well.)

  38. Now I'm forced to ask, lynneguist, if you grew up in the American North or South? (And apologize if the subject has been addressed otherwhere on the blog.) Because I was unenthusiastic about biscuits until I moved to North Carolina (which... er... for readers unfamiliar, if they exist, is in the South), and now I can't imagine anything being better than a biscuit.

  39. Grew up in the Northeast, where biscuits are primarily (in my family, at least) used for strawberry shortcake (which I don't really like), but have lived in the midwest and Texas, where you get more of the biscuits-and-gravy thing that comes from the South. Still don't get excited about the biscuits, and am really happy to have an ocean between me and sausage gravy.

  40. Scones, IME, aren't the same thing at all except superficially in appearance (for one thing, scones often have Stuff like raisins baked into them, and biscuits don't -- the batter and the way you shape them aren't the same, either, come down to it).

    Very late to the party but I just wanted to point out another difference in the light of meghaera's comment. US scones =/= UK scones. In the UK scones are not necessarily flavoured (the plain scone) and not necessarily sweet (the cheese scone). They have a less crumbly texture than US scones, are shaped differently and are eaten differently. In the UK you split a scone in half, butter it and often add jam (and sometimes clotted cream).

    The plain UK scone is not identical to, but shares some similarities with, the US biscuit - at any rate much more so than the US scone does.

  41. "A bacon roll is bacon inside a roll that's been sliced in half (usually with ketchup or brown sauce), and is a popular hangover treatment."

    I'll have to mind out - I'd no idea ketchup and brown sauce were so sharp!

    (Sorry, it made me laugh and I simply couldn't resist)

  42. Just to report that (for research purposes only) I bought some "Scottish crumpets" in a supermarket here in Glasgow yesterday, and as far as I can see they are exactly what would be called "Scotch pancakes" where I grew up in the S of Eng. Sweetish, floppy discs perhaps a quarter of an inch thick and six inches across, with only a slight waffled effect on one side. Nice enough, but if you were after what's generally known as a crumpet these days, they would indeed be a disappointment.

    Perhaps (I speculate) these are also the same as pikelets, and they're very similar to welshcakes, though welshcakes (to my mind, or at least my great-aunt's formula) are slightly smaller and thicker with no waffling and the same fried-brown effect on both sides.

  43. Re "starch-on-starch English comfort food", I recently had the pleasure of eating the Southern (US) dish of "field peas" on cornbread, which doesn't seem too far from beans on toast.

  44. Apparently I was wrong -- Scotch pancakes (or Scottish as Wikipedia calls them in a perhaps bowdlerised form, avoiding the archaic adjective disliked in Scotland) are fried on both sides and lack the waffled texture of the Scottish crumpet, which is browned on one side only.

  45. Round where I grew up (Bury, north of Manchester) we referred to 'baps' as muffins. So it was common practice to ask for a chip muffin at the Fish and Chip shop.

    I moved further north to Lancaster and found that asking for a 'chip muffin' was a sure fire way to get looked at like I was an idiot.

    I think it must be a Bury peculiarity, my Dad who grew up the son of a baker in Bolton knew them only as barmcakes or flourcakes. The concept only seems to exist nationally in the form of 'oven bottom muffins' as shown by a (originally) local to Bolton bakery, Warbutons.

  46. In Scotland the filling seems to take precedence over the bread: A roll and sausage, a cheese piece (piece as in slice of bread). In the East Midlands a cob is the standard name for a bread roll. So a chip cob, roll and chips in Scotland, chip buttie elsewhere, I don't think anyone ever says chip sandwich. Of course it's all panini and focaccia now...

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  48. Very late contribution, via the more recent '-dgy' post. To my (southern) British ears pigs-in-blankets refers to (pork) sausages wrapped in bacon, which my mum tends to cook especially for Christmas lunch.

    On the other topics, I've just made my own pond-hop to Cambridge, MA from SE England (actually a brief ex-student of yours, Lynne). I've seen a couple of supermarkets that sell crumpets, although I haven't sampled them yet (it will only be a matter of time before I give into the craving though). They were also being sold in a tea shop, along with what was labelled as 'Devonshire double cream' (again, haven't tried these yet). I assume they meant clotted cream (double cream would be a bit odd...), but is there a phrase for this heavenly heart-attack inducing stuff in AmE?

  49. @Andrew: Hello! There's no equivalent in AmE for those kinds of cream--and here's another post on just that topic.

  50. @Missiongiraffe:

    I also grew up in Bury (NW England for those of you who don't know) and I agree - I grew up referring to 'baps' as muffins. To me, a muffin =/= a barm - a flat, soft, floury bap. I'd go to the local bakery and ask for a bacon and egg muffin without getting any strange looks.

    My parents weren't local though, my Dad is from Manchester and though he now says muffin he also uses bread bun or bap. My boyfriend, from neighbouring town Bolton, says barm.

    I use the term bread bun, but I tend to think of it as rounder and possibly firmer than a muffin/barm. As far as I'm concerned, a proper muffin should be floury.

    I always get confused by the American definition of muffins...

  51. Re: PB&J: a close friend had the experience of asking for peanut butter and jelly from a UK relative, and receiving puzzled looks; eventually receiving a Peanut butter sandwich with Jello (gelatine) on it...

  52. Ok then I'm from Manchester

    and the truth is that
    A: You get buns in bun cases not in muffin cases


    B: you don't feed muffins to an Elephant
    (see now we are six by A A Milne)

    Barm Cakes are oven bottom muffins (they dont rise as much and the outside is seared)

    Fairy cakes are small buns in small bun cases

    and finally

    Crumpets are delicious whatever you want to put on them

  53. And since this post was written, I have learnt that what I know as Chelsea buns are very, very similar to what, in the USA is called a cinnamon roll! Except that Chelsea buns arguably have less cinnamon in them, although they do have some, and cinnamon rolls don't, I think, have raisins in them (but I could be wrong). But the general idea is similar.

  54. More on flapjacks:

  55. Blows have been exchanged over definitions of pikelets. In Durham a pikelet is somewhat (but not entirely) like the pancakes you get with that most civilised of US institutions, Sunday breakfast at the diner. The Derbyshire pikelet on the other hand is made with yeast and is a cousin of the Staffordshire oatcake being made with a thin batter containing yeast and more like a tortilla (a Mexican or American tortilla not a Spanish tortilla which is a cold vegetable omelet). The Staffordshire oatcake contains oats, which is all it has in common with the Scottish oatcake, a dry biscuity thing.

    Which all seems to suggest that the linguistics of flatbreads is a minefield to be trodden very carefully.

  56. enitharmon

    Nottingham pikelts are crumpets. At least they were when I was a boy.

    And speaking of crumpets, I went to the Edinburgh Book Festival the other day to hear Joan Bakewell dubbed back in the Sixties 'the thinking man's crumpet'

  57. At least they didn't call her a 'tart'!

    (For non-Brits: Bakewell tart is a kind of cakey tart; 'tart' also means 'prostitute'.)

  58. If you go to Bakewell (the town, not Joan) the locals will insist that it's a Bakewell pudding, not tart. Calling Joan the thinking man's pudding wouldn't be much better.

  59. At least they didn't call her a 'tart'!

    'They' took the person of Frank Muir, a much loved comedy write, performer and general humorist. He was urbane, winsome, and totally devoid of malice

    The comment was on Joan's frequent appearance on the cultural show Late Night Line Up sounding very hip and yet cultivated — and looking extraordinarily pretty and exquisitely fashionable.

    Joan's feminist fans objected to the thinking man's crumpet label and asked why she never objected. Ah, but it was Frank Muir! was sufficient explanation.

  60. I am not sure if this is widespread or just the result of my odd childhood but I was raised to think of sandwich pronounced with the "d" as a small thing you eat at a fancy party or event (e.g cucumber sandwiches) whereas a "sammich" or "hoagie" or "sub" is a normal or large-sized bread/filling/bread combination. I remember feeling confused as a kid that I had to spell the two words the same. In informal conversations I still make the distinction but in formal conversations I stick to sandwich as it is spelled. Though, I must admit I giggle to think of a massive sub in the same category as a twee watercress.....

  61. Sorry, I accidentally deleted this comment. Re-posting the copy from my inbox:

    David Crosbie has left a new comment on your post "baked goods":

    My mother's fairy cakes were not at all sponge-like. They had a firm texture comparably to plain cake, currant cake and chocolate cake. She never iced them.

    Before American-style cupcakes became fashionable here, I associated the term with shop-bought little spongy cakes, baked in paper and covered with a really thick chocolate or lemon icing — giving them a flat top. My mother's fairy cakes were baked in the same tin as her tartlets, and had a domed top.

  62. I'm really shocked there have been 61 comments and not one on what the British, or any other non-American, term is for 'baked goods', which to my Irish ears sounds like a complete Americanism. If I had to express the idea in my dialect I'd say 'breads and cakes' or something else admittedly not quite as comprehensive as the American term.

  63. Iain

    If you do Google Advanced Search of baked goods confined to the domain .ie you get ten pages of hits. It's clearly a term used by people in the trade — if not by the average punter going into in a bakery.

    It's a term we use here in Britain if we have a special interest, as opposed to simply liking to eat the things. So some of us say baked goods quite frequently, others not at all.

    Lynne isn't the first semanticist I've read with an interest in the names of these things. And all semanticists love a hypernym.

  64. ...though I am a semanticist who prefers the term 'hyperonym' (like a number of other lexical semanticists). To quote myself in the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Lexicography:

    "While hypernym is often used, hyperonym preserves the -onym ‘name’ etymon and contrasts more clearly with hyponym in speech."

  65. Lynne

    I was initially resistant to hyperonym because it just wasn't what I'd learned — an unthinking emotional reaction which often underlies out attitudes to contentious AmE/BrE differences.

    What finally reconciled me was the analogy with the pronunciation of hyperbole.

  66. Well, in Scotland, our pancakes are thick and our crumpets are thin!

    Pancake on top of the folded over crumpet. Known as "Scotch pancakes' in England. Often called 'drop scones' here sometimes.

  67. Hi folks, writing from Toronto, Canada. And loving your forum! No flaming! How civilized you all are... really.

    I came across this board while doing a bit of researching for a Brit word -- forget what it was now -- for our cookbook style guide. I work for a publisher and we adapt a lot of UK-published cookbooks for the American market. Canadians of course get a lot of UK phraseology but Americans, not so much. Part of the problem over here is that the countries are so enormous that there can be different words from province/state to province/state, coast to coast. An eternal debate here is "cabin" vs "cottage", you know, the cabin or cottage, as opposed to a tent with floppy walls, where you take a holiday. The debate will never end. Then you've got other terms, like "bunkie" which I loathe, and "camp" which to me certainly implies floppy tents, the "lake house" which implies there is actually a lake.. and on and on.

    Nothing to say about food right now... except that it's late and I'm off to get dinner, or is it supper?? No wait, tea, I think.

    I look forward to more reading. Cheers!

  68. And then there's Australia. Lol. We seem to follow the Brittish terminology and baking style far more closely, although American cookies have become popular in more recent years.
    My best friend makes her own crumpets though. In Australia we tend to first slather them with enough butter that it melts through the holes and leaves a puddle on your plate, and then top it with either golden syrup, honey or, of all things, a thin scraping of vegemite! Once you get your head around a vegemite crumpet not being sweet, they are actually remarkably good.

  69. Biscuits are a glorious thing! Serve warm with butter and jelly or honey. But they have to be made by some who knows how to do it right. My mom makes great biscuits but mine are terrible. You have to have some skill and practice. Restaurant biscuits are not even close to the real thing. Sausage gravy is wonderful too. Home made only, no mixes. It's easy, even I can make it.

    Most of the Brit terms I know come from Are You Being Served? [70's Brit TV comedy] More than once the the men refer to a woman as "That's a nice bit of crumpet, ey?" I highly recommend Are You Being Served for those who love all things British [Netflix]. Very un-PC and very funny.

  70. I'm a German-with-Austrian-dialect speaking person. I like to read "exotic" American/British recipes and I got very confused but this article really helps.

    Recently I tried to discuss the differences between Austrian "Palatschinken" (like crepe) and "Kaiserschmarren" (like scrambled pancake) and pancakes and flapjacks with an Afrikaans/English speaking person from South Africa. At the end we both were so confused... ;)


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AmE = American English
BrE = British English
OED = Oxford English Dictionary (online)