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Real Breads of Britain

All are (or were at one point) Real Breads made with yeast, though more modern recipes for some might use baking powder and/or artificial additives.

The list is based on the one we have published in our Lessons in Loaf guide for schools.

We’d love to hear from you more regional Real Breads to add to this list and any future versions of Lessons in Loaf. Please email the name and one line description to realbread [at] tweet to @RealBread using the #realbread hashtag

See also:

What's its name?

Names can be confusing. Around the country, there are many things called cakes that are in fact types of bread and then there are gingerbread men and Scottish oatcakes, both of which are biscuits.

What some people call pikelets others know as crumpets and there are those who disagree which bread is a crumpet and which is a muffin.

You will notice that certain breads on this list are enriched and flavoured with similar combinations of eggs, sugar, butter (or lard) and spices but given different local names. You will also find that recipes for each type of bread have many variations.


The following either have more than one 'home' or their origins have been lost in the mists of time...

Asmall but thick, chewy pancake, with many deep holes. The name is related to the Welsh word crempog.

Hot cross buns
These are usually the same as teacakes but with a cross on top. They are part of the traditional celebrations after the fasting of Lent, though now they are often available long before Easter.

Lardy cake
A flaky yeasted bread, enriched with lard, sugar and dried fruit.

Malt loaf
A heavy, sticky, fruited bread, sweetened with malt extract, dark sugar (or treacle).

Milk bread
Made with milk instead of some or all of the water. It was especially popular during the Victorian period.

Flat, round bun, cooked on both sides on a griddle. The name is thought to come from the old French word moufflet, meaning soft. Americans call it an English muffin, as they use the word muffin for a big cupcake.

In Derbyshire, Staffordshire and Wales, they tend to be large, thin, soft pancakes, whilst in Yorkshire, they are dried until crisp.

Plum bread (or cake)
Sweet, spiced bread. Most (or perhaps all) recipes use dried fruit such as currants, rather than plums.

Sweet, fruited, spiced buns.

Traditional shapes

Nowadays the following names are mainly used to identify a shape, though in the past bakers would have had specific recipes for each, varying the type of flour used, as well as proportions of ingredients, provin and cooking times.

Hand-shaped loaf with rounded ends and several diagonal slashes on the top.

Round, hand-shaped loaf with a deep cross slashed in the top.

Cottage loaf
Round, hand-shaped loaf with a smaller round on top that has a deep dent in the middle from pushing down through the top part of the loaf to join the two pieces together.

Hand-shaped loaf with a chequerboard pattern of slashes on top.

Split tin
Tin loaf with a deep slash along the top.


Perhaps the oldest (5th Century) recorded British word for a bread. Originally, bannocks were heavy, flat, unleavened breads, often made from barley, oats or rye and cooked on a griddle. Though it is likely that they were at one time leavened with barm or natural starter, modern bannocks are often made using baking powder.

Black bun
Bread stuffed with a deep filling of spiced, dried fruits that are often soaked in whisky.

Flaky, buttery, salty breads from Aberdeen, similar to croissants but not as light.

Selkirk bannock
Very different from a regular bannock, this fruited bread is more similar to English lardy cakes and Welsh bara brith.


The Welsh word for bread.

Bara brith
The name means speckled bread and it is sweet, dense, spiced and fruited.

Welsh griddle cakes. The word is related to krampoch in Lower Brittany and the English crumpet.

Pikelets (bara pyglyd)
Similar to thin crumpets, they are soft, holey griddle cakes.

Northern Ireland

Aràn pràtaì
The name means potato bread, and is oven baked bread made with wheat flour and potatoes.

Barm brack
This is sweet, fruited bread, flavoured with caraway, which was originally leavened with barm, the yeasty sediment left by brewing beer.

Griddle bread made with a mixture of wheat flour and potatoes.

This round, flatish bread, made to be broken into quarters (farl means fourth part), was traditionally cooked on a griddle, though is now often baked. It can be made with any combination of white or wholemeal flour, oats and potatoes. Before chemical leavening was discovered in the 19th century, farls would have been yeasted, though now they are almost always made using baking powder or bicarbonate of soda and soured buttermilk.

This is another type of flat potato bread.

England - south west

Bath buns
They are enriched with butter, sugar and usually eggs, and sometimes flavoured with candied citrus peel, saffron or caraway seeds.

A smaller version of the Devonshire split.

Saffron bread
Also known as saffron cake, this yellow-tinged Cornish bread is enriched with sugar, butter and flavoured with saffron and other spices.

Sally Lunns
An egg, sugar and butter or cream enriched bun from Bath. They perhaps take their name from a girl who lived in the city over 300 years ago or perhaps a corruption of soleil et lune, French for sun and moon. Some recipes are very similar to those for Bath buns.

Often used in Devon and Cornwall instead of scones for cream teas, these are small, round, butter and sugar enriched white buns.

England - south east

Chelsea buns
Glazed and currant-filled sweet bread whirls, first baked by the Bun House in Pimlico, London.

Also known as swimmers, these are small lumps of bread dough, boiled in Norfolk as dumplings in a soup or stew.

Kentish flat, oval buns, with a deep indent in the middle.

Oast cakes
Fried barm dumplings once made by Kentish hop pickers.

England – the midlands

Banbury cake
Sweet bread from the Oxfordshire market town, traditionally flavoured with rose water, cloves, mace and caraway.

England - north east

Like a large muffin but baked on both sides on the bottom of the oven, so also known as a bottom cake. The name comes from a dialect word meaning ‘to bounce.’

England - north west

Eccles cakes
Flaky, enriched sweet bread filled with spiced dried fruit.

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