Shropshire is a truly lovely British county, a place where beauty and history meet: wooded river valleys, rolling farmland, and gentle hills dotted with timeworn castles, peaceful abbeys, and ancient halls. Notable for its unique geology and rich past, it’s often called the birthplace of industry thanks to its development of coke-smelting and ironfounding in the early 18th century.
Today, things are a little quieter, and the population sparse. Just 300,000 residents: mostly farmers, small-business owners and retirees. And what tradition dictates they enjoy of an afternoon is an array of sumptuous pies, cakes and biscuits…
Perhaps the county’s most iconic dish is fidget pie, which started life 400 years ago as a portable lunch for local farm workers. Packed with gammon, potato, onion, cider and apple and then topped with a layer of cheese, this pastry was perfect for those on the go; ideal for long hours in the fields at harvest time.
On the sweeter side, we get Shrewsbury Biscuits – one of the best-known Shropshire recipes. First mentioned in the 1500s, these biscuits are characterised by their crisp, brittle texture, and contain everything from rosewater to lemon, cinnamon, nutmeg, caraway seeds or orange peel. Market Drayton Gingerbread is another sugary local delicacy. Said to have a restorative kick to it (possibly thanks to its secret ingredient, a fairly strong rum!), it’s been produced in Market Drayton since the early 1700s, and remains a favourite treat on market day!
Shropshire Soul Cakes (a sweet and spicy scone, baked with a cross on top and handed out on All Souls’ Day) and Shrewsbury Simnel Cake (a light fruit cake containing saffron and marzipan) also merit a mention, as do the aromatic Shropshire Pudding (a spongey cake made from stale bread) and Shropshire Mint Cakes (made with fresh mint and currants).