elevenses, a photo by *Cinnamon on Flickr
Marie from The English Kitchen blog was kind enough to write a guest post for us, explaining the peculiar British custom of elevenses. Brew a cup of tea, grab a scone, and read on!
noun (British)
1. (Usually used with a plural verb) a midmorning break for refreshments.
2.   The refreshments taken.
3.  a light snack, usually with tea or coffee, taken mid-morning
Over here in the UK, a most popular meal break of the day, which is taken by some, (but not by everyone) is a little teatime tradition known as Elevenses, that most delicious break of the morning where people from all walks of life tuck into a little snack and a wet cuppa a la “Afternoon Tea” –  like. 
Generally speaking,  it is not as high falutin’ as Afternoon Tea . . . you won’t be required to put on your best frock or your bow tie . . .  you needn’t make sure your hair is combed neat and tidy . . . you needn’t even break out the best china and silver!  (Save that fuss for Afternoon Tea!)  Elevenses consists merely of a delicious snack or two and a warm bevvie, or cold . . . as you like!
It’s also known as a second breakfast in some circles, coming in between the proper breakfast and before lunch!
That doesn’t mean it has to be boring though . . . elevenses can be as simple or as exciting as you like!  Some people are quite, quite happy with a chocolate biccie or two, along with a steaming mug of milky tea . . . still others are very desirous of a slab of freshly baked cake, a tart or two, or even three, along with their liquid poison . . .’ tis all down to appetite really.
Honey on bread with condensed milk was the preferred elevenses of Winnie the Pooh.  Paddington is more likely to partake of bread and marmalade . . . tea being totally optional just make sure there’s lots of bread and plenty of marmalade please!)  . . . and the Famous Five from Enid Blyton fame are quite possibly more apt to stog down some cherry cakes and ginger beer!  Bilbo Baggins always enjoyed tucking into his second breakfast . . . just one of his six meals of the day.
As for me . . .  I love to treat myself to a freshly baked goodie or two, or even three, depending on how gluttonous I might feel at the moment.  Usually homemade . . . perhaps a cake, or a biscuit, a slab of cake or pie . . . it all depends on the mood.
Sometimes even I have to settle for a plate of Oreo’s and a glass of milk . . . which isn’t a bad way to go per se . . .
Look below for some delecta-licious elevenses recipes!

Almond Gingerbread
Lemon Chocolate Chip Loaf
Raspberry Buns 
Fruit and Nut Scrolls
Custard Buttons 


Written by Abigail Young

I've had a passion for everything British my entire life, despite being raised as a small-town girl in the American Midwest, After years of dreaming, I got the chance to live and work in England for an entire year. Now I write about my favorite country, and hopefully inspire my fellow Britophiles to get over there and experience it for themselves.

This article has 11 comments

  1. Marie Reply

    Thanks for inviting me to do this! I had a lot of fun writing it and reliving some of my favourite elevenses treats! xxoo

  2. Catherine Reply

    Oh, I approve!!! We need to do elevenses over here more often…in NY we barely take time for a cawfie break. What’s breathing?

  3. Abby Rogers Reply

    You’re more than welcome, Marie! I’d love to hear from you again.

    Thank you for posting, Catherine! It is a sad thing when we can’t take time out of our busy days to enjoy the simple things.

  4. Jane Davies Reply

    What you didn’t explain was that it’s called elevenses because it is taken at around eleven o’clock in the morning!
    Actually as a Brit I haven’t heard this saying being used for decades.

  5. LazarusLong Reply

    I’ve heard some horror stories about British food. Having never been there, I consider it all to be just rumors. One thing in particular gets me though. If I go to Britain can I get a steak that is cooked in proper American style, or will I be doomed to having a beautiful hunk of steak boiled at me (just the thought of it justifies the death penalty in my mind !)

  6. Eileen Burton Reply

    Thanks for the tips. We don’t usually have time for relaxed elevenses here in the UK.
    But I have some friends calling for a couple of hours from 10.30am to 12.30pm and as it is too early for lunch and they will be at there final destination for evening dinner. Some substantial refreshment will be required. I want to enjoy their company while having a good cup of tea/coffee. I want it more or less prepared in advance. So scones lemon loaf cake with a few small cheese bread rolls should serve well.

  7. Barrie Reply

    thank you Marie.I always wondered where this custom came from.

    my Granny always had her Elevenses along with the Radio or wireless serial called Mrs Dales diary during the 1940`s 50`s?

  8. Francis esq Reply

    My friends and I are going camping for the weekend in the bush on the South Coast of Australia. No women. Autumn is in the air. There’s going to be excessive food and alcohol. Everyone’s got a meal to prepare for the 48 hour onslaught. Our livers will take a flogging and our cholesterol levels might well go through the roof. And that’s the legal stuff.
    We had one person left over. He’s not known as a creator of edible offerings. In fact toasting bread might be a challenge. So I put him on ‘Elevenses”. And now the knucklehead is asking what’s elevenses.
    What do I tell him?
    What can he make?

    Tearing what little hair I have out!

  9. Margaret Powling Reply

    I am English and have just read this, although it dates from several years ago, and although husband and I (who are retired) often have elevenses (as this little break for a cup of tea is usually around eleven o’clock in the morning) we never have anything fancy to eat, just a biscuit or a Kit-Kat (chocolate and biscuit) bar. Sometimes, if there is some cake available we might have a small slice but I wouldn’t bake anything specially for elevensees as I would for afternoon tea.

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