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15 Vintage British Desserts Worth Trying Today

Travel back in time across the pond and drool over these traditional British desserts.

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Rhubarb Fool with StrawberriesTaste of Home

These classic British desserts are creamy, fruity, sticky and glorious. They may have funny names, like syllabub, but they are totally delightful. Let’s go back in time and learn a little bit more about these British sweets. And don’t miss these other vintage desserts worth trying today.

Check out these other desserts from around the world!

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Jam roly poly, jam roly-poly, English dessertMShev / Shutterstock

Jam Roly-Poly

Fond memories surround this classic school lunch dessert. It’s a rolled pudding with layers of fruity jam in every bite. Like most other British desserts, it’s served with hot custard. Our best cake rolls are very similar to this vintage treat.

For a twist on the jam roly-poly, try our cinnamon twirl roly poly.

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Grandma's Molasses FruitcakeTaste of Home

Fruitcake

Fruitcake dates back to the Middle Ages. It was easy to keep for a long time because the alcohol and fruit acted as preservatives (remember there was no refrigeration back then!). Fruitcake has long been the traditional cake at royal weddings and, by the way, here’s what royal wedding cakes have looked like throughout the years.

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close up lemon, raspberries and coconut knickerbocker gloryMatthew Bechelli / Shutterstock

Knickerbocker Glory

The knickerbocker glory has captured the hearts of British people since the 1930s. It’s a glorious, layered ice cream sundae served in a tall glass with a very long spoon. Here are more ice cream desserts to stick your spoons into.

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Rhubarb Fool with StrawberriesTaste of Home

Fruit Fool

This simple dessert consists of custard or whipped cream and fruit. The most popular types of fruit include gooseberries, raspberries and rhubarb. It’s quite easy to whip up, and it looks stunning. Try our Rhubarb Fool with Strawberries.

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Fresh mango and lime syllabub served in a dainty emerald green glass dessert dish garnished with mint and icing sugar on distressed green wooden work surfaceShutterstock / Louise Crouch

Syllabub

Similar to the fruit fool, a syllabub is a creamy, fruity bowl of fluff. It’s made with cream, lemon juice and wine, and topped with more fruit, if desired. This dessert actually originated as a drink in the 16th century, and has since been turned into a sweet treat.

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Banoffee pie with bananas, whipped cream, chocolate, coffee and toffeeirina2511 / Shutterstock

Banoffee Pie

The banoffee pie isn’t as old as, say, the syllabub, but it has been around since the 1970s. It was invented by Ian Dowding and Nigel McKenzie, the chef and owner, respectively, of The Hungry Monk restaurant in East Sussex. The name combines the two main stars of the dessert: bananas and toffee.

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Warm Sticky Toffee PuddingWarm Sticky Toffee Pudding

Sticky Toffee Pudding

It’s been said that this recipe came from a Canadian Air Force officer during World War II. He asked a hotel manager to make it while he was in Britain. The dessert was soon adopted by another hotel, and its popularity eventually spread to the whole country. You might see it at Kensington Palace, as it is one of Kate Middleton’s favorite foods.

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Classic british summer dessert called Eton Mess.Shutterstock / Yulia Grigoryeva

Eton Mess

The story goes that a cook at Eton College dropped a strawberry meringue and still served the messy dessert; hence the name, Eton Mess. Prince William and Prince Harry both attended the all-boy’s school, so they are especially familiar with this dessert. Here are the favorite foods of the royal family.

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Bread Pudding with NutmegTaste of Home

Bread & Butter Pudding

Poor British families would turn to bread and butter pudding as an inexpensive dessert. It was a great way to use up stale bread instead of throwing it out. It’s unclear whether it originated in the 11th or 17th century, but we do know it was one of Princess Diana’s favorite foods.

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cranachan with raspberry, whipped cream and roasted oatmeal in a glassShutterstock / Joerg Beuge

Cranachan

The Cranachan is a Scottish dessert that was originally made in the summer after the raspberry harvest. Now that we have refrigeration, it’s made year round. This treat is made with fresh raspberries, whipped cream, honey and steel-cut oats. It almost looks like oatmeal! The traditional way to serve it is to place a bowl of each ingredient on the table for people to create their own.

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TREACLE TART / PIE SLICESCKP1001 / Shutterstock

Treacle Tart

We can’t talk about British desserts without mentioning the treacle tart. “Treacle” refers to syrup and is the star component of this dessert. If you’re a Harry Potter fan, then you’ve certainly heard of this. Here are other magical Harry Potter-inspired recipes.

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Christmas puddingShutterstock / Shebeko

Figgy Pudding

Figgy pudding has gone through a big transformation throughout the years. It was created in the 14th century as a savory dish made of beef, mutton, raisins and prunes. It became a dessert in the 16th century and is now made with brown sugar, currants, alcohol and spices. Surprisingly, figs aren’t always included in the recipe! This is why we sing about figgy pudding at Christmas.

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Holiday English TrifleTaste of Home

English Trifle

A traditional English trifle is made with sponge cake, custard, jelly, whipped cream and berries. This stunning-yet-simple dessert has been a favorite of the Brits for over 300 years. Just make sure you don’t accidentally combine an English trifle recipe with a shepherd’s pie just Rachel did on Friends!

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Arctic roll, Artic Swiss roll dessert cakeneil langan / Shutterstock

Arctic Roll

A Czechoslovakian lawyer who fled his homeland during World War II created the arctic roll after moving to Britain. He began selling this frozen dessert in 1958 and it soon became a hit throughout the country. To recreate this dessert, roll a sponge cake layered with raspberry sauce around a log of vanilla ice cream. Slice and enjoy!

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Spotted dick pudding with custardMargoe Edwards / Shutterstock

Spotted Dick

Puddings are quite popular English desserts and have very interesting names! “Dick” is a common term for pudding, possibly derived from the word “dough.” A spotted dick is a boiled pudding “spotted” with raisins. Who would have thought this was a beloved dessert just by looking at the name! Here are 11 Classic British Foods Explained to Americans.

Emily Racette Parulski
Emily Racette Parulski is a Senior Editor for Taste of Home, specializing in email newsletters. When she’s not writing about food, she’s baking something sweet to feed her chocolate obsession.

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