Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Counties of England

I am increasingly interested in the history of baking recipes, particularly the geographic origin. So often a region’s produce would determine the creation of a recipe; nowadays, thanks to supermarkets, what your area produces is less important in governing what you bake or eat. For instance, I live in the region of England that grows nearly all of Britain’s cucumbers...do I eat more cucumbers than you? Probably not.

As a little side project to my Caked Crusader blog, I am going to try to find a cake or bake (tart, pie, biscuit etc) for every county in England. I expected drawing up a list of counties to be an easy task – the work of seconds with the assistance of the internet. Think again! Counties are a minefield (not literally, thank goodness). They change for postal and governmental reasons far more often than you’d think, so I have decided to use the traditional counties (also called the historic counties) as my guide. If you’d like to read a little more about the traditional counties The Association of British Counties website has more information on it than you could ever wish for!

I can’t do this alone – if you have a recipe for a cake, pie, tart or biscuit linked to where you live then please, please, pretty please, consider sharing it with me. I can be emailed via the “contact me” button displayed on the right hand side of my site. Thanks in advance!

Here are the traditional/historic counties of England with the main towns/cities in brackets):

1. Bedfordshire (Bedford, Luton, Dunstable, Leighton Buzzard, Biggleswade, Sandy)
2. Berkshire (Reading, Bracknell, Maidenhead, Newbury, Windsor, Wokingham, Abingdon)

3. Buckinghamshire (Aylesbury, Milton Keynes, Slough, Buckingham, High Wycombe)
4. Cambridgeshire (Cambridge, Wisbech, Ely, March, Whittlesey, Chatteris, Linton)
5. Cheshire (Chester, Stockport, Ellesmere Port, Birkenhead, Wallasey, Runcorn, Macclesfield, Crewe)
6. Cornwall (Bodmin, Truro, Camborne, Redruth, St. Austell, Falmouth, Penzance, Newquay)
7. Cumberland (Carlisle, Whitehaven, Workington, Penrith, Keswick, Brampton)
8. Derbyshire (Derby, Chesterfield, Glossop, Ilkeston, Long Eaton, Swadlincote, Buxton, Matlock, Ashbourne)
9. Devon (Exeter, Plymouth, Torquay, Paignton, Barnstaple, Tiverton, Newton Abbot, Tavistock)
10. Dorset (Dorchester, Poole, Weymouth, Sherborne, Wimborne Minster, Shaftesbury)
11. Durham (Durham, Sunderland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool, Gateshead, Washington)
12. Essex (Chelmsford, Basildon, Romford, Southend, Colchester, Harlow, Brentwood, West Ham)
13. Gloucestershire (Gloucester, Bristol, Cheltenham, Stroud, Cirencester, Tewkesbury)
14. Hampshire (Winchester, Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Basingstoke, Newport)
15. Herefordshire (Hereford, Ross-on-Wye, Leominster, Ledbury, Bromyard, Kington)
16. Hertfordshire (Hertford, Watford, St. Albans, Hemel Hempstead, Stevenage, Hatfield)
17. Huntingdonshire (Huntingdon, St. Ives, St. Neots, Ramsey, Yaxley)
18. Kent (Maidstone, Canterbury, Bromley, Rochester, Margate, Folkestone, Dover, Greenwich)
19. Lancashire (Lancaster, Liverpool, Manchester, Preston, Bolton, Warrington, Barrow-in-Furness)
20. Leicestershire (Leicester, Loughborough, Hinckley, Melton Mowbray, Coalville, Lutterworth)
21. Lincolnshire (Lincoln, Grimsby, Scunthorpe, Boston, Grantham, Stamford, Skegness, Louth)
22. Middlesex (City of London, Harrow, Enfield, Staines, Ealing, Potters Bar, Westminster )
23. Norfolk (Norwich, Great Yarmouth, King's Lynn, Dereham, Cromer, Hunstanton)
24. Northamptonshire (Northampton, Peterborough, Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough)
25. Northumberland (Alnwick, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, Morpeth, Hexham, Berwick-upon-Tweed)
26. Nottinghamshire (Nottingham, Mansfield, Worksop, Newark, Retford, Southwell)
27. Oxfordshire (Oxford, Banbury, Witney, Bicester, Henley-on-Thames, Carterton, Thame)
28. Rutland (Oakham, Uppingham. Cottesmore)
29. Shropshire (Shrewsbury, Telford, Oswestry, Bridgnorth, Whitchurch, Market Drayton, Ludlow)
30. Somerset (Taunton, Bath, Weston-super-Mare, Yeovil, Bridgwater, Wells, Glastonbury)
31. Staffordshire (Stafford, Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton, Walsall, Cannock, Lichfield)
32. Suffolk (Ipswich, Bury St. Edmunds, Lowestoft, Felixstowe, Sudbury, Haverhill, Bungay)
33. Surrey (Guildford, Croydon, Woking, Sutton, Kingston-on-Thames, Wandsworth, Wimbledon, Brixton)
34. Sussex (Chichester, Brighton, Worthing, Crawley, Hastings, Eastbourne, Bognor Regis, Horsham)
35. Warwickshire (Warwick, Birmingham, Coventry, Nuneaton, Rugby, Solihull, Stratford-upon-Avon)
36. Westmorland (Appleby, Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside, Kirkby Lonsdale)
37. Wiltshire (Trowbridge, Salisbury, Swindon, Chippenham, Devizes, Marlborough, Warminster)
38. Worcestershire (Worcester, Dudley, Kidderminster, Stourbridge, Halesowen, Malvern, Evesham)
39. Yorkshire
North Riding (Northallerton, Middlesbrough, Scarborough, Whitby)
East Riding (Beverley, Hull, Bridlington, Driffield, Hornsea, Filey)
West Riding (Wakefield, Leeds, Sheffield, Bradford, Halifax, Harrogate)
York (within the Walls)


  1. I am looking forward to the fruition of this project! What a great idea.

    Not being a resident of the UK, I can't actually contribute any recipes with a real authority, but if I stumble across anything, may I send it to you?

  2. Hi Lisa Marie

    Thanks for being the first commenter on my new little side-project!

    Yes please - send whatever you think might help!

    Happy baking

  3. Well Lardy cake is a traditional cake (well really it is a bread but...) in maaaaaany counties so maybe you could knock a few off in fell swoop?

  4. Hello, dear CC! I must say this is most interesting, I look forward to this project. Like Lisa Marie, I'm not a resident of the UK, but that doesn't make me feel less excited. Good luck!

  5. I have a book called English Puddings, Sweet and Savoury, by Mary Norwak, which features a lot of traditional puddings, pies, tarts and desserts, many of which are named after English counties, or a particular feature of one county. I think the old-fashioned puddings are more regional than cakes, although there are obviously some regional cakes.

    For instance, Bakewell Pudding, from Derbyshire, or Sussex Pond Pudding is well known, but what about Buckinghamshire Cherry Bumpers, Devonshire Apple Drugget, Norfolk Lent Pies or Hampshire Six-Cup Pudding?

    Drop me an email at suelle35 -at- gmail.com if you'd like a full list of all the county-related recipes in the book. It might help a little with internet searches, if you have some names to start with. I think the book is still available, although mine was a second-hand copy from a charity shop.

  6. Dorset apple cake!!!

  7. Ooo! CC!!!

    I remembered a children's book series [yes, they DID have printed books when I was a child] in which the main characters visited Cornwall and experienced Cornish Saffron Cake. I've never tried it, but I've Googled it now and then, to look at its golden beauty. Have you ever made it?

    Lisa Marie

    P.S. Btw, this brain lightning occurred at 0630 and before actual consumption of tea. I know!

  8. Hi Lisa Marie

    Funnily enough, I was looking at Cornish saffron cake just the other day - I've never made it...but I might now!

    Happy baking

  9. I can only think of more obvious choices like Chelsea Buns or Kendal Mint Cake, but I'm really looking forward to seeing all the bakes! Such an original and interesting project :)

  10. Oh just found your site and can't wait to see what you come up with. Hope you'll be sharing the recipes too.
    A favorite of mine is Yorkshire parkin. there's lots of recipes around but have choosen this link as it gives a bit of the history.
    Hope you like it and good luck with what seems to be a great idea.

  11. janemacification1 February 2012 at 09:29

    Hevva Cake from Cornwall
    or as the emmetts refer to it "heavy cake"

  12. The two for Shropshire that immediately come to mind are Gingerbread for Market Drayton and Shrewesbury Biscuits for Shrewesbury. Gingerbread has been associted with Market Drayton for about 200 years (one of the local pubs is called "The Gingerbread Man" and there is a floral display/plaque on the entrace to the town.

    These links are for the BBC lcoal site and also two all important recipes. Hope this helps - if I find any others for Staffordshire, I'll post them





  13. Thank you everyone for your comments and links - I appreciate you taking the time to help me in my quest

    Happy baking

  14. Very cool idea. How about Bedfordshire clangers?

  15. Lancashire- Manchester Tart, Eccles cake
    Westmoreland- kendal mint cake, or the lyth valley is famous for its damsons (jam or gin)
    devon- devonshire splits are amazing
    or there are a few recipes from Lakeland (http://www.lake-district-guides.co.uk/general/lakesrecipes.html)
    Westmoreland- Damson Cobbler,Damson Jam, Grasmere Gingerbread
    Cumberland- Rum Nicky

    its a great idea, i've tended to focus on local stuff but but can't wait to see what you find

  16. I'd second Devonshire Splits.

    For West Yorkshire you want Moggy. A proper Yorkshire Sponge Parkin.

    I'll dig my recipe for it out later.

  17. I can't see Bristol (my home town)...but if I could, I would nominate Bristol cake which seems to be a really simple madeira-type cake with currants in...

  18. Got to be Gypsy Tart for Kent. Absolutely wonderful stuff!Reminiscent of school dinners in the 80's, i used to work in a bakery where the tarts were deep filled and the filling whas whipped until light and fluffy. They were to die for! :-)

  19. Grasmere gingerbread, Hereford apple dumplings, Cornish ginger fairings, Stanhope firelighters (Durham), Shrewsbury biscuits, Lancashire nuts, Suffolk rusks, Kentish hop pickers cake - a great idea & I very much look forward to the end results xx

  20. Such a sweet and tasty journy through the counties! I am glad I found your blog on pinterest, I definitly need to come backe!

  21. Marlborough buns, Bath buns, Banbury cakes, Chelsea buns. Reading in Berkshire used to be famous for biscuits (it's the home of Huntley & Palmer's, and the football team are sometimes known as the Biscuitmen) but no actual recipes spring to mind. Perhaps a bit of Googling would turn something up

  22. Thank you for superb ingredient. Freezing lasted therefore attained fabulous: -)
    Excellent blog page utilizing treat excellent recipes ourselves if you're involved. I have a blog with cake recipes myself if you are interested. You can find it at http://recipes-for-food.com/

  23. Brilliant idea! Looking forward to seeing the results!

  24. Awesome Information….. thanks for share…………….

  25. Lardy cake is from Wiltshire

  26. Thanks a lot for your work getting as much as possible these recepies!!!!

  27. Surrey - Maid of Honour tarts. Named after Henry VIIIs m.o.h. might have been from his palace at Richmond, but also Kew.

  28. Hii, CC,

    As someone mentioned before, for Derbyshire it has to be the Bakewell Pudding - NOT the same as a Bakewell tart, which I suspect owes more to Mr Kipling than it does to Derbyshire.

    Anyway, the oft-repeated claim that the recipe is unique and secret is tosh. It appears that in the early 19th century the owners of the recipe were only too willing to exchange a copy for a fiver. There's a very well-researched webpage on the subject at http://foodhistorjottings.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/some-early-bakewell-pudding-recipes.html , which gives several recipes - some look pretty damn good...might have to have a go at one myself.

    I hope you haven't given up on the idea of a bake for every county. It's such an interesting Idea...


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