6 Must-Have British Ingredients For Your Next Baking Project
Feb 12, 2023 By Cassandra Bailey

Many Americans have never heard of golden syrup or clotted cream, although they are commonplace in the United Kingdom. You may only be familiar with these ingredients from watching The Great British Baking Show, but they are indispensable in traditional British sweets like treacle tarts and roly-poly pudding.

The host of the legendary London supper club Muffdining had this to say about English desserts: "English desserts are frequently a bit more low-key, simple, traditional." Innumerable British bakes require a few key ingredients. Find out what seven ingredients are essential to British baking, where to buy them, and how to utilize them.

Refined Sugar

Caster sugar is perfect for baking since it dissolves more quickly and smoothly than regular granulated sugar because of how finely it is crushed. Caster sugar, more commonly sold under the names "superfine sugar" and "baker's sugar" in the United States, is available here. Still, it is typically more costly than regular granulated sugar.

In baking, caster sugar can be substituted for regular sugar by weight, but not volume. Because of the finer grinding, you'll obtain more caster sugar in the same volume as granulated sugar.

When making cakes like this Pistachio Cake with Lemon and Rosewater, using caster sugar or superfine sugar makes all the difference due to its quick-dissolving qualities, which facilitates the creaming of butter and sugar.

Syrup of Gold

'Golden syrup is a bright gold-colored syrup prepared from cane sugar,' says Thida, a Norfolk-based home baker with a sizable Instagram following. "It tastes a little bit like honey and has a smooth, honey-like consistency," they wrote.

Invert sugar, of which golden syrup is kind, has undergone further processing to break the molecular bonds that make sucrose, lowering the size of the sugar crystals and giving them a more dense, honey-like consistency.

In addition to its usage in baking, de Lacey suggests that golden syrup be drizzled ", especially within and on top of sourdough waffles with heaps of crème fraîche and a sprinkling of salt."

Raw Muscovado Sugar

According to Bevington, muscovado sugar is just as common in British bakeries as regular brown sugar and dark brown sugar when it comes to imparting a rich molasses flavor.

Muscovado sugar has a similar appearance compared to brown sugar, but its flavor is considerably stronger, and its texture is more wet and sandy. On the other hand, Muscovado sugar is unrefined.

According to British novelist and culinary writer Felicity Cloake, "Muscovado sugar" is "vital" in Christmas mincemeat pies and sticky toffee pudding even though it may be overbearing if not handled sparingly due to its dark, bittersweet, and damp characteristics.

Self-Rising Flour

What we term "self-rising" flour in the United States is what the British call "self-raising" flour; it includes baking powder, a rising agent, already mixed in, so it's considerably quicker to use for making baked goods like scones or cake. The primary distinction is that British people routinely utilize it, while many Americans are unaware of its existence.

Bakery owner Bevington regularly relies on self-rising flour when making baked goods like cakes and scones; the same is true of many British recipes. Even though it's easy to come by around here, Nigella Lawson's website features a helpful guide in case you don't have any. Baking powder may make baked goods rise successfully by adding two teaspoons per cup of all-purpose flour.

Gelatin Sheets

Sheets of gelatin, known as gelatine in the United Kingdom, have a transparent, plastic texture. Powdered gelatin, a protein extracted from animal bones, cartilage, and other connective tissues, is the most common type of gelatin sold in the United States. Before it dissolves in boiling liquid, you must first "bloom" it in cold water.

Gelatin powder has a faint, disagreeable odor to some individuals. Cloake informs me that while she has tried both unscented gelatin sheets and powdered gelatin, the sheets are "far easier to handle."

Finding sheet gelatin at U.S. supermarkets might be a challenge. Although it may be purchased online, it is typically more expensive than the more common powdered variety.


Digestives are a type of food that may be thought of as falling halfway between a cracker and a cookie in the United States. They're delicious with cheese but stand on their own as a satisfying snack. Choices include milk chocolate and dark chocolate. Digestives are an excellent alternative to graham crackers, or "biscuit base," as they are known in the United Kingdom.

Cloake tells me that biscuit bases frequently make guest appearances in no-bake sweets like cheesecakes and one of her faves, banoffee pie. "Completely over the top and totally tempting," banoffee pie is made with a buttery biscuit foundation filled with caramel and bananas and topped with coffee cream.