7 Top British Cakes An English Listening Practice Topic Ep 547

A photo of a traditional British cream tea. Today we work through an English conversation that is both useful and delightful talking about something we all love, cake.

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 2925 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 15 min

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Useful English Language Practice For The Kitchen, Cooking And Cakes

An English language listening practice lesson. Today we do what we do best, we work through everyday English conversation which delivers lots of useful vocabulary, idioms, grammar and spelling and we do it talking about something lovely, 'cake'. I hope we can all agree that cake is good. So if you want to cook and practice your English or you just want to try a new cake while you learn more English, start listening now.

I buy a Sunday newspaper every week, however most weeks I’m just too busy to sit down and read. So it wasn’t until mid week I actually had time to read the headlines, and a few interesting articles. Only the articles were nearly all 'Bad news', I mean new wars, old wars that never seem to end, stocks and shares crashing, crypto currencies are collapsing, inflation is rising, food scarcity is a problem, taxes are going up and monkey-pox is a thing.

So today, we’re going to ignore all of that, because we are here to help you learn to speak English fluently. We are going to focus on the positives. Your English language skills are improving. We all love cake and we want to know more about popular British cakes. Don’t we?

You know you're getting old when the candles cost more than the cake.
⭐ Bob Hope, American Comedian

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Most Unusual Words:


Most common 3 word phrases:

English Language Learning3
Means That You2
That You Can2
A Type Of2
A Sweet Tooth2
Like To Eat2

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The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: 7 Top British Cakes An English Listening Practice Topic

Hi there. Sometimes when the world doesn't seem like a very nice place, it's really good for us to focus on the small things. Today I'm going to talk about what cakes we like to eat. What are our favorites in the UK? And that will give you opportunity to hear some vocabulary about food and about cooking.

Hello, I’m Hilary, and you’re listening to Adept English. We will help you to speak English fluently. All you have to do is listen. So start listening now and find out how it works.

I'm going to talk about the seven most popular cakes in the UK, and you're going to get some really good English listening practice. What do those of us 'with a sweet tooth' like to eat? There's an idiom for you.

OK. So that was an idiom - 'to have a sweet tooth' means that you 'enjoy eating sweet, sugary things'.

A previous podcast with a cake recipe - and our podcast bundl es!

And if you want the instructions, the recipe for a really nice cake that you can make in summer, then listen to podcast 483. In that I talk you through making a Rhubarb Crumble Cake. Very nice. Before we start just a word to remind you that if you like listening to our podcasts and you know that they're really helping your English language learning, there are plenty more podcasts from Adept English for you to listen to. Just go to our website and our Courses page.

Boost Your Learning With Adept English

So that's adeptenglish.com and click on Courses. And in there you'll find plenty of podcasts bundles. Each one contains 50 podcasts. So that's a lot of minutes of listening time. For a small price, you can download them to your mobile phone and it means that you can follow Rule Three of the Seven Rules of Adept English, and use your dead time for your English language learning. English language learning and Adept English podcasts, wherever you go! What could be better than that?

So today I'm going to talk through the seven most popular cakes in the UK, some very British cakes for you to hear about.

My policy on cake is pro having it and pro eating it.
⭐ Boris Johnson, British Prime Minister

Battenberg cake

The first one on this list is Battenberg cake. That's B A T T E N B E R G, Battenberg. This cake, the first Battenberg cake was baked in 1884 to celebrate Prince Louis of Battenberg marrying Princess Victoria, Queen Victoria's granddaughter and Prince Philip's grandmother.

Battenberg cake is an oblong cake - it's long and thin. And it's square when you cut into it. It's covered in marzipan - that's M A R Z I P A N. And 'marzipan' is a type of sugary almond paste. So almonds, A L M O N D also pronounced 'almonds'. 'Almonds', 'almonds' - either is fine. They're a type of nut, often grown in California, and they're used for flavouring in cakes and biscuits.

So Battenberg is an almond cake - it's covered in marzipan. And when you cut into it, inside it's a checkerboard, it has squares of yellow and pink cake. You may have seen it, and they're sandwiched together, they're glued together with jam. So that is a Battenberg cake and a favourite in the UK. I like a Battenberg!

Lemon Drizzle cake

Next one on our list of popular cakes in the UK is Lemon Drizzle. So that's 'lemon', L E M O N. So 'lemon' is a citrus fruit, and it's the sort of thing....you might have a slice of lemon in your gin and tonic. And a drizzle cake? So that's D R I Z Z L E. So 'drizzle' can be a noun or a verb. And in cooking, we use 'drizzle' to mean when you pour something lightly over the top.

If you make a salad, you might drizzle olive oil over your salad. And here we're talking Lemon Drizzle cake. So basically the cake is a Madeira cake. So that's M A D E I R A, like the island of Madeira. And it's a plain cake and then you make a sauce, if you like, with lemons and sugar. And you 'drizzle' it over the top.


A photo of a lemon drizzle cake. The British have a long and rich history of baking, and these 7 cakes are among the most traditional.

©️ Adept English 2022

It's a firm favorite in the UK, a Lemon Drizzle cake. Obviously you can use other citrus fruits, so you can have a Lime Drizzle cake or an Orange Drizzle cake, but a Lemon Drizzle cake is definitely the favourite.

Scones and 'cream teas'

Next on my list of favourite cakes, scones, that's S C O N E S. So it's 'scone' or 'scone'. How you pronounce it probably is determined by where in the UK you come from. So you'll hear 'scone' from the north, usually and 'scone' generally in the south. Both are correct. And scones form the basis of what's known as a 'cream tea'.

In the summer, in the UK, particularly in the counties of Devon and Cornwall, but other places as well, if you go into a cafe, then you can order a 'cream tea'. So that is a pot of tea and some scones with butter, jam and if you're really lucky, cream as well, hence 'cream tea'. So a scone is quite a plain cake it's made of flour and butter.

Not sure there's always sugar in it, but there are eggs and you might find 'dried fruit'. Currants, raisins, sultanas are 'dried fruit', they're all 'dried grapes' and they might be in your scones. And as I say, you slice them, spread butter and jam on there and eat it with cream. So scones are very popular as well.

Quite challenging to make. I'm not sure I've quite mastered scones - hard to get them to rise, I find. So if anyone's got tips, please let me know!

Fruit Cake - for weddings and for Christmas!

Next on my list of popular cakes in the UK - Christmas Cake. When we talk about Christmas Cake, we mean 'fruit cake'. It's a rich fruit cake and it's dried fruit. So it's those again - raisins, currants, sultanas - all different types of dried grape. And in a Christmas cake, you might find you've got 'candied peel' as well. That's 'peel, P E E L and it's treated with sugar, to make it 'candied' and it'll be the peel of oranges or lemons.

Also in your fruitcake, you might have cherries and in a Christmas Cake, you also may put some alcohol in there as well. So a Christmas Cake is usually a fruit cake and you might find people put a layer of marzipan, so that's that almond paste again, over the top and down the sides sometimes. And a white icing on the top, so a white sugar icing as well. Now if it's Christmas Cake, you might find the top is decorated with a Christmas scene. It's made to look like a snow scene, very often. There might be a snowman standing on your Christmas Cake.

And of course, if it's a wedding cake, which is based on the same thing, often the traditional wedding cake in the UK, everything the same - it's just, you might have a model of the bride and groom, 'the happy couple' on the top of your cake or some flowers or some bells. So that's Christmas Cake and Wedding Cake - very popular!

Victoria Sandwich Cake

Another popular cake, the Victoria Sandwich Cake. Again, another cake, which references Queen Victoria! This is because it was her favourite cake at Afternoon Tea that it began to be called the Victoria Sandwich Cake. And basically this is a sponge cake - that's S P O N G E. And the rule for making sponge cake - you have four ingredients - eggs, butter, sugar and flour. And you basically weigh your eggs and then you do the same weight of each of the other ingredients. So the same amount of butter, sugar, and flour as your eggs weigh.

You can do an 'all in one method', which means you just throw it all into a bowl, all at the same time and mix it up. But actually, if you want a nicer cake with a better rise, so that's when the cake rises up in the oven, out of the tin, then you would beat your butter and your sugar, first of all. You can do that with an electric whisk, or if you beat a cake, it means you mix it very vigorously with a wooden spoon - that's 'to beat' when you're making a cake.

You would also beat in your eggs and then finally you carefully and slowly fold in your flour. The reason for this is that if you beat your flour in a cake mix, it makes the cake a bit chewy. So you just fold in the flour, very gently. Put your cake mixture into two circular tins, so you end up with two circular cakes when it's been baked in the oven. And then it's called 'sandwich cake' because you 'sandwich' them together. The top and the bottom with jam, usually. Apparently it has to be, or it's supposed to be raspberry jam for a Victoria sponge cake. You can use strawberry jam, but if you're being very particular, it's raspberry jam to be correct.

So that's a Victoria Sandwich Cake.

Bakewell Tart and Cherry Bakewells

Two more popular British cakes. What about Bakewell Tart or Cherry Bakewell? Well, Bakewell, B A K E W E L L - that's a town in Derbyshire and this is where the Bakewell Tart comes from. So a 'tart' in British cooking is T A R T. it basically means you've got a pastry bottom, so it's a kind of pie, but a pie tends to have a lid on as well.

A 'tart' tends to be open. It's a bit like a French tart. That's got an E on the end, T A R T E. So a Bakewell tart, T A R T means that you've got a pastry bottom, then you have a layer of jam and then you have something called 'frangipane'. That's F R A N G I P A N E. And 'frangipane' is again made with those nuts, almonds.

It's a kind of 'almond paste' that you spread over your tart. If it's a Bakewell Tart, you cook it, and as I say the almond bit rises and you would probably just decorate it with slices of almonds or dust it with icing sugar.

If it's a Cherry Bakewell, then that is a small individual cake, rather than a whole tart. And a Cherry Bakewell probably will be decorated with a white icing and a cherry on the top. Very nice. I like a Cherry Bakewell!

So that's Bakewell Tart and Cherry Bakewell.



Last one on our list. Today is flapjack - that's F L A P J A C K.

Now flapjack is really simple to make. So if you want your children to start cooking, then flapjack is a really good thing to get them to make. The ingredients are oats. That's O A T S and that's a cereal crop - 'oats'. Sugar, butter, and syrup. So 'syrup' is S Y R U P and here it means 'liquid sugar' actually, 'syrup'.

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You can use honey as well for flapjack. This is one of those where you just throw all your ingredients into a bowl together. You melt your butter and you put everything in the same bowl and you give it a good stir. Then you get a flat baking tin, so a shallow wide tin, metal tin. And you press the mixture into the tin and you bake it in the oven.

Then when it comes out, you cut it into squares or rectangles. And there are some variants on basic flapjack. So again, you can add dried fruit. So things like currents or raisins can go into your flapjack or some people like it with a layer of chocolate on the top. What could be wrong with that - chocolate flapjack?

Mmm. Very nice. It's the sort of thing that you find in children's lunchboxes to go to school?

Listen to this podcast a number of times, to enhance your food and cooking vocabulary!

So there you are the seven most popular cakes in the UK and some lovely food and cooking vocabulary for you. What a lot of comfort there is in something like this. I'm off for a cup of tea and a slice of cake.


Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

Thank you so much for listening. Please help me tell others about this podcast by reviewing or rating it. And, please share it on social media. You can find more listening lessons and a free English course at adeptenglish.com




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