We're finally reached it: the Great British Bake Off final. In honour, we've ranked the best of the British bakery offerings. Come on, let's all have a bun fight!

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Image: GBBO: The definitive ranking of the classic British bakery

Lord William Chard/CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0/Wikimedia Commons

Ah, the great British bakery. Other nations might beat us on elegance, technical skill, exotic flavours and aesthetic appeal, but nobody can say we don't win on pure insulating stodge. 

 

With the autumn drawing in and The Great British Bake Off down to its final bite, now is the time to wrap ourselves in a comfort blanket of enriched dough and icing.

 

There are so many questions raised when deciding which classic cake shop creation is the greatest: why is there no cheese in a London cheesecake? Are raisins the devil? If it's buttery enough to make the paper bag transparent, is that a window to victory?

 

Here are the (whipped) cream of the crop:

 

12. London cheesecake

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London cheesecake

secretlondon123/CC BY-SA 2.0/adapted/Flickr: secretlondon

It's not a cheesecake. It's not from London. It contains no cheese. It's not a cake. Can it be trusted? Has it actually been dead all along?

 

The world is split into two types of people: those who are sure at one point in their life they've seen and maybe even enjoyed a London cheesecake, and those who refuse to believe it even exists.

 

What we do know is this: if it does exist, then it's a pillow of puff pastry, sometimes with jam inside, covered in icing and a pile of grated coconut. Imagine an office paper shredder had a baby with a sticky bun, then got run over, and you're halfway there. 

 

11. Gingerbread man

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Gingerbread man

Via: Senior Airman Elisa Labbe/Wikimedia Commons

Delicious in his own basic biscuity way, the gingerbread man still can't stand up next to cake shop stalwarts like bread pudding and the Belgian bun. Or, at least, he can't once you've bitten his legs off.

 

You monster. 

 

10. Iced finger

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Iced finger

Via: The Great British Bake Off/Love Productions/YouTube

We know, deep down, that the average iced finger is just a hot dog roll with a dribble of icing on the top (and sometimes they even have the telltale cut where the sausage should go). But shh, don't ruin the magic.

 

Seriously, shut up. We've eaten it now anyway.

 

9. Belgian bun

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Belgian buns

Lord William Chard/CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0/Wikimedia Commons

How our Flemish cousins feel about giving their name to this giant pile of dough and sugar we're not totally sure (it's about as Belgian as a dinner of Stella 'n' chips), but there's no denying that it ticks the key boxes of a) big b) sweet and c) so stodgy you need to have a nap afterwards.

 

Plus, the cherry on top: there's a cherry on top!

 

8. Custard slice

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Custard slice

Alpha/CC BY-SA 2.0/adapted/Flickr: avlxyz  

"How much filling is too much filling?" asked the inventor of the custard slice, probably. "YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MUCH FILLING!" somebody cried, with a mad sugar-rush glint in their eye.

 

Thank you, that person. We salute you.  

 

7. Jam doughnut 

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Jam doughnut

Via: Evan-Amos/Wikimedia Commons

Doughnut tell us that a newfangled glazed-PBJ-matcha-rhubarb whatever beats a good old-fashioned sugared jam doughnut. We doughnut want to hear it.

 

And if you can eat it without licking your lips, you're a true champ.

 

6. Danish pastry

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A Danish pastry can be apple, apricot, custard, jam, pecan, toffee, minced beef, whatever. There is just one important criteria and that is: it must be so loaded with filling and icing that it can't support its own weight.

 

Fun fact: you very rarely see a Danish made with actual Danish ingredients like bacon, blue cheese or liver pâté. Nobody knows why.

 

5. Welsh cake

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Welsh cakes

zingyyellow/CC BY-SA 2.0/adapted/Flickr: 28576278@N03

England can argue about the pronunciation and jam/cream composition of scones until it's blue in the face; all the while Wales has the last laugh because these buttery cakey marvels are secretly a million times nicer. And they're polished off faster than you can say Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch.

 

4. Bread pudding

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Bread pudding

Via: Roly Williams/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons

Only a FOOL would confuse this beautiful slab of stodge with bread and butter pudding.

 

Sure, they both involve stale bread mushed up with sugar, eggs, raisins and joy, but bread pudding can be bought from a bakery and eaten with your hands at the bus stop. That is the crucial difference.

 

3. Treacle tart

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Treacle tart

Ben Sutherland/CC BY-SA 2.0/adapted/Flickr: bensutherland

It's fine, you never liked your teeth anyway. 

 

2. Eccles cake

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Eccles cake

Via: Dr Greg/CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia Commons

For some reason, Eccles cakes fall into the same category as mince pies, Christmas pudding and proper traditional wedding cake – they're only for proper grown-ups who aren't afraid of raisins. But dried fruit fanciers have the last laugh, because Eccles cakes are the best thing to come out of Manchester since Bet Lynch's wig.

 

We're mad fer it.

 

1. Chelsea bun

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Chelsea buns

Duncan Hull/CC BY-SA 2.0/adapted/Flickr: dullhunk

Remember when the phrase "made in Chelsea" was a good thing? These glorious sticky spirals date back to the 18th century, when (legend has it) 50,000 people queued round the block to buy one at London's premier bun house.

 

These days we just call that a no-reservations pop-up.

 

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