Our cakes are not your cakes

Trying to do American baking in the UK is difficult. Everything, right down to the ingredients, is different to what you can buy in the States. A lot of the shortcuts we have don’t translate to this side of the pond either. Want to make a cake that’s super moist? You can’t add Jell-O Instant Pudding because there isn’t any here, tough guy. Putting together a nice cream frosting? Cool Whip n’existe pas. Want to make cookies in a hurry? Not with slice-and-bake cookie dough, you won’t. Brits have biscuits instead of cookies. Biscuits are smaller and harder (so you can have them with tea or coffee), and there is no such thing as refrigerated biscuit dough because; 1. That’s disgusting, 2. You can buy an entire packet of biscuits for roughly £1, and 3. The way they’re made, you can’t tell whether they’re fresh or not because it doesn’t really matter.

Like so many other types of culture shock, it’s the little things you don’t expect that really get you. The majority of the time, British people don’t put frosting (which they call ‘icing,’ and so they have ‘icing sugar’ instead of ‘confectioner’s sugar’) on the sides of their cakes. If they bother to frost a cake (many times there’ll just be a sad dusting of icing sugar), they’ll only do the top. When I see a layer cake with naked sides, I feel an immeasurable sadness for all the places where frosting could be. Why not coat everything with frosting? More frosting can only be a good thing, especially when your cake is dry, which it usually is.

Mostly it just comes down to completely different tastes. Coffee cake in the UK is always made with coffee, and never has cinnamon streusel topping. Zucchini is called courgette (so much produce has French names, I’ll have to write more about it another day), and it doesn’t have a place in baked goods. Carrot cake is still the same, though.

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