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The language of baking across Europe

Updated Monday, 12th March 2012

Read and listen to the language of bakeries and cake shops across eight European countries by exploring our map. Find out about regional and cultural differences (and similarities) as you browse our collections.

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We've collected the sights and sounds of baking from across Europe, finding the tastiest and most popular favourites from each country. Browse the collection under each flag to whet your appetite for a bite to eat or to learn a language.

Explore the baking and culture of Europe

Members of The Open University Faculty of Languages were 'behind the scenes' when the Hairy Bikers filmed the BBC series Bakeation.

Find out more about the language and culture of baking in eight European countries.

Creative-Commons Sifu Renka via Flickr

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Italy has many different kinds of bread, cakes and baked goods, which reflect the regional and cultural diversity of the 20 regions. Typical of Emilia Romagna is the piadina, a type of unleavened flatbread which goes back to ancient times and is cooked on a griddle or testo. Some Sicilian cakes go back to the period of Arab domination in Sicily, like cassata, it’s a cake not an ice-cream! Cassata is prepared with exotic ingredients such as saffron, dried fruit and candied fruit. At Christmas time, the panettone of Milan is now found in almost all Italian homes. Lastly, let’s not forget pizza, which, originally prepared in the back streets of Naples, has now spread to the entire world!


L'Italia offre una vasta varietà di pane, dolci e pietanze cotte al forno, riflettendo la diversità culturale e culinaria delle venti regioni. Tipica dell'Emilia Romagna è la piadina, un tipo di pane azzimo che risale ai tempi antichi e viene cotto su una piastra o testo. Alcuni dolci siciliani risalgono alla dominazione araba in Sicilia, per esempio la cassata - non è un gelato ma un dolce! La cassata è preparato con ingredienti esotici come zafferano, frutta secca e canditi. A Natale, poi, il panettone milanese è ormai presente in quasi tutte le case italiane. Infine non dimentichiamo la pizza che, originariamente preparata nelle viuzze di Napoli, è ora diffusa in tutto il mondo!

Audio transcript

-Buongiorno signora. -Buongiorno. Mi dà un filone da mezzo chilo, per favore? -Un filone da mezzo chilo, ecco. -Grazie. -Prego. Arrivederci. -Arrivederci.

-Good day, signora. -Good day. Can you give me a half-kilo loaf please? -A half kilo loaf, here you are. -Thank you. -You’re welcome. Bye! -Bye.

Image Rachel Black via Flickr under Creative Commons license



In Austria, there are local and regional variations in baking. Home baking is quite popular. Sweet baking in Austria was influenced by other cultures: Bohemia golatschen, Hungary strudel and Italy polentaschnitten. Different words are used to refer to bread brot, white bread and rolls weißgebäck and konditorwaren are more luxurious bakery goods. The sachertorte name is protected, but many households have their own similar chocolate torte recipe. Linzertorte is a regional speciality, which is known in all of Austria.

Austrian German

In Österreich gibt es lokale und regionale Unteschiede beim Backen und Backen zu Hause ist sehr beliebt. Viele anderen Kulturen haben das Backen in Österreich beeinflusst: Böhmen (Golatschen), Ungarn (Strudel) oder Italien (Polentaschnitten). Verschiedene Wörter werden verwendet um zwischen Brot, Weißbrot und Brötchen (Weißgebäck, Semmeln) und Kuchen (Konditorwaren, Mehlspeisen) zu unterscheiden. Der Name der Sachertorte ist geschützt, aber viele Haushalte haben ihr eigenes ähnliches Schokoladentortenrezept. Linzertorte ist eine regionale Spezialität, die in ganz Österreich bekannt ist.

Audio transcript

-Gruß Gott. -Guten Tag. Drei Stück Apfelstrudel bitte, zum mitnehmen. -Bitteschön. Darf es soustnoch was sein? -Nein Danke. Das ist alles. -Auf Wiederschauen. -Auf Wiedersehen.

-Hello. -Hello. Could I have three slices of apple strudel to take away please? -Here you are. Would you like anything else? -No thank you. That’s it. -Goodbye! -Goodbye.

Image: © Beverley Daley-Yates



In most French families, buying bread is a daily task. The French traditional baguette is much nicer eaten fresh, sometimes when it's still warm, which is why most French people visit their local bakery at least once a day. The baguette is still the most popular form of bread, but several others are available. There are several white bread varieties, distinguished by their size, from the small ficelle to the large flûte, and by their shape, from the round boule to crown-shaped couronne and the spiky épi. There are also types of rye bread, pain de seigle, wholemeal bread, pain complet, seeded bread, pain aux céréales and many regional specialities.


Dans la plupart des familles françaises, on achète son pain tous les jours. La baguette traditionnelle est bien meilleure lorsqu’elle est fraîche, ou même encore chaude, et c’est pour cette raison que les Français vont à la boulangerie de leur quartier au moins une fois par jour. La baguette est toujours le type de pain le plus répandu, mais il en existe beaucoup d’autres. Il y a de nombreuses sortes de pains blancs. On les distingue grâce à leur taille, de la ficelle à la flûte, et grâce à leur forme, de la boule à la couronne, en passant par l’épi. On trouve aussi des pains faits de farines différentes, comme le pain de seigle, le pain complet ou le pain aux céréales, ainsi que de nombreuses spécialités régionales.

Audio transcript

-Bonjour! -Bonjour. Je voudrais une baguette, une tartelette aux pommes et un éclair au chocolat s’il-vous-plaît. -D’accord, voilà. Et avec ceci? -Ce sera tout, merci. -Je vous en prie. Au revoir! -Au revoir!

-Hello. -Hello. I would like one baguette, one apple tartlet and one chocolate éclair please. -OK, here you are. Anything else? -That’s it, thank you. -You’re welcome. Bye! -Bye.


Baking oven in Hungary Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: BBC


Hungarian confectionary cake traditions are modern, most being invented in the last 150 years. These cakes are much celebrated, and local cukrászda (cake shops) are favourite places for people to go. In the cukrászda famous cakes such as Dobos torta and Rákóczi túrós are offered alongside less well-known but equally delicious varieties. The more traditional and rather filling savoury flatbread called lángos and the very sweet and crispy kürtőskalács, originally from Transylvania, are available from kiosks on street corners. Bread is usually bought fresh every day on the way home from work, while cheese, potato or pork crackling flavoured scones, pogácsa, are still often baked at home.

Image: © BBC


A cukrászati hagyományok főként modernkoriak: a cukrászsütemények nagy részét az elmúlt 150 évben találták fel! Magyarország cukrászsüteményei világhírűek; a helyi cukrászdákba előszeretettel járnak az emberek. Itt fogyasztásra kínálják mind a hírneves süteményeket, mint például a Dobos tortát és a Rákóczi túróst, mind kevésbé ismert, de hasonlóan ízletes társaikat. Kint az utcán sok helyen fogyaszthatunk a hagyományos és laktató lángosból vagy akár a nagyon édes és ropogós, Erdélyből származó kürtőskalácsból. A kenyeret általában frissen veszik az emberek minden nap, munkából hazafelé; sajtos, krumplis és tepertős pogácsát pedig még mindig gyakran otthon sütnek.


Bakeation - Norwegian Copyrighted  image Icon Copyright: iStockphoto


The Norwegian short summers, cold climate, limited areas of arable farmland and proximity of the sea have influenced traditions for food production, including bread, cakes and baking. There is a wide variety of traditional bread and cakes in Norway, and its said that Norwegians probably eat more bread than any other Europeans. Norwegian bread is typically made from wheat or rye flour. Many people are surprised to find that potato is also a common ingredient in some traditional Norwegian bread recipes, notably lefse.

Image: © iStockphoto


De norske korte somre, kaldt klima, begrensede områder av dyrkbar jord og nærhet til havet har påvirket tradisjoner for matproduksjon, inkludert brød, kaker og baking. Det er et bredt utvalg av tradisjonelle brød og kaker i Norge, og det sies at nordmenn sannsynligvis spiser mer brød enn noen andre europeere.

Norsk brød er vanligvis laget av hvete eller rugmel. Mange er overrasket over å finne at potet er også en vanlig ingrediens i noen tradisjonelle norske oppskrifter, spesielt lefse.



Spain has many different breads, but the product that best reflects the geographic and cultural diversity is the empanada, because each region has adapted the fillings to the local produce. Religion has played a very important role in shaping Spanish baking traditions. During the Muslim invasion, Spaniards stated their Christianity by eating a lot of pork, hence the wide use of chorizo in empanada fillings and the inclusion of pork fat where other cultures would use butter. Many specialities such as tarta de Santiago are linked to a particular Christian saint, and Spanish nuns are famous for the range of cakes and biscuits sold in their convents.


España tiene gran variedad de panes, pero el producto que mejor refleja su diversidad geográfica y cultural es la empanada, ya que cada región la rellena con los productos locales. La religión también desempeñó un papel importante en las tradiciones gastronómicas. Durante la invasión musulmana, se afirmaba la propia cristiandad comiendo mucho cerdo, rellenando las empanadas de chorizo y usando manteca de cerdo en lugar de mantequilla. Muchas especialidades como la tarta de Santiago están relacionadas con algún santo, y las monjas españolas son famosas por los dulces y pastas que venden en sus conventos.

Audio transcript

-Hola buenas tardes -Buenas tardes. ¿Me pone un roscón de Reyes para seis personas por favor? -Un roscón de Reyes, aquí tiene. -Muchas gracias -De nada, adiós. -Adiós, hasta luego.

-Hello, good afternoon -Good afternoon. Could I have a roscón for six people please? -One roscón, there you are. -Thank you. -You’re welcome. Bye! -Bye.

Image: webps frotps under Creative Commons license



There is a huge variety of bread types in Germany. German families buy their bread in one of many bakeries found on German high streets, either independent or part of local chains such as Dat Backhus or Nur Hier in Hamburg. Rye bread is the most popular. It can be made of pure rye flour or with mixed flours, with or without grains and seeds. On a Sunday afternoon it's quite typical to sit with friends and family members for coffee and cake. Favourites include Black Forest gateau, streusel cake or gugelhupf. During advent, people will have stollen and lebkuchen instead.


Es gibt eine riesige Vielfalt von Brotsorten in Deutschland. Deutsche Familien kaufen ihr Brot in einer der vielen unabhängigen Bäckereien oder in Läden von lokalen Ketten wie zum Beispiel Dat Backhus oder Nur Hier in Hamburg. Roggenbrot ist die beliebteste Sorte. Es kann aus reinem Roggenmehl oder aus gemischten Mehl hergestellt werden, mit oder ohne Körner und Samen. An einem Sonntagnachmittag ist es üblich, mit Freunden und Familie beim Kaffee und Kuchen zu sitzen. Dazu gibt es dann Schwarzwälder-Kirschtorte, Streuselkuchen oder Gugelhupf. Im Advent, werden Christstollen und Lebkuchen gereicht.

Audio transcript

-Guten Tag. -Hallo. Ein kleines Rogenmischbrot, bitte. -Bitteschön. Darf es noch etwas sein? -Nein Danke. Das ist alles. -Auf Wiedersehen. -Tschüss!

-Hello. -Hello. A small loaf of mixed rye bread please. -Here you are. Would you like anything else? -No thank you. That’s it. -Goodbye! -Goodbye.

Image: marttj under Creative Commons license


Confectionary cakes in a bakery window, Netherlands Creative commons image Icon keepps under Creative Commons license under Creative-Commons license


Types of bread in the Netherlands have historically been divided east-west and north-south, determined by the cereal that was grown. In the south-west wheat was grown on the clay soil and brown bread was baked from this. In the south and east rye bread was eaten because of rye and oat harvests. White bread used to indicate status. For centuries Dutch bakers produced white bread for the rich and dark bread for ordinary folk. After the Second World War, our understanding of health and consumer choice were redrawn. Now the dark, coarse loaves are considered healthier and more upmarket.

Image: keepps under Creative Commons license


Historisch gezien is er een scheiding in soorten brood, oost-west en ook noord-zuid. Dat heeft te maken met wat er verbouwd werd. In het zuidwesten werd tarwe verbouwd op kleigrond, en daar at men bruinbrood. In het zuiden en oosten werd met name roggebrood gegeten omdat daar rogge en haver werden verbouwd. Wit brood gaf status. Eeuwenlang bakten bakkers voor de notabelen het wittebrood en gewoon brood voor het gewone volk. Echter, na WO2 ontstond er een herdefiniëring van wat gezond en luxe is en nu worden de roggebrood en ander grof tarwemeel brood gezien als luxe, en gezonder.


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