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This post is an attempt to keep track of the terms that differ between dialects of English or exist in some dialects but not others: British / Australian / Canadian / American / etc.

Please note that Canada may be difficult to classify, as some regions (especially near the southern border) use US terms, while others may use UK terms.

It's a community wiki, so feel free to edit and clarify or add additional items. The comments are getting long, so use answers for discussion of specific concepts if necessary, especially if you're not sure what a term means.

Vegetables:

  • Eggplant (US, AU) is an aubergine (UK).
  • Zucchini (US, AU) is a courgette (UK) when harvested young or a marrow (UK) when allowed to mature further.
  • Summer Squash (US) are members of the squash family with a short storage life typically harvested before full maturity; typically available starting in the spring and summer; includes zucchini, yellow and crookneck squash.
  • Winter Squash (US) are members of the squash family that are allowed to reach full maturity before harvesting; typically available in the fall; includes pumpkin, acorn and butternut squash.
  • Arugula (US) is rocket (UK, AU).
  • Rutabaga (US) is swede (UK), but also called turnip or neep in some parts of the UK, particularly Scotland. (Wikipedia)
  • Endive (US) is chicory (Belgium, perhaps others).
  • Capsicum (US, AU) / bell pepper (US) is a pepper (UK).
  • Seaweed (US) has many names based on type of plant, including Kombu (Japan), Nori (Japan), Laver (Wales), and many others. See (edible seaweed)
  • Snow peas (US, AU) are mange tout (UK) (word borrowed from French meaning 'eat everything'). Mange tout (UK) also includes sugar snap peas (US).
  • Peanuts (US) may sometimes be sold in the UK as 'monkey nuts,' especially if unshelled. And Peanut Oil may be known in the UK as groundnut oil.
  • Legumes (US) are pulses (UK). 'Legume' may refer to the plant and not the seeds (lentils, beans, etc).
  • Mealy potatoes (US) are floury potatoes (UK). This refers to high starch, low moisture potatoes that result in significant softening when cooked (useful for mashed potatoes or using for thickening; the opposite of waxy potatoes).

Herbs, Spices & Seasonings:

  • Kosher salt (US) is flake salt (UK). Some sea salts may be appropriate substitutes (ref).
  • Cilantro (US) is known as Coriander (UK), and it tends to refer to the leaf, unless qualified as 'coriander seed'. May be qualified as 'fresh coriander' or 'green coriander'. 'Ground coriander' is always the seed.
  • Coriander (US) refers to the seed.

Baked Goods:

  • Cookies (US, CA) are biscuits (UK, AU, NZ), while biscuits (UK, AU) refers to digestive biscuits, which are cookie shaped but more similar to a sweet cracker like the graham cracker (US, CA).
  • Biscuits (US, CA) are similar to a scone (UK, AU), and usually neither sweet nor savory. Note: bisquit (Germany, no plural) is sponge cake (US).
  • Muffin (US, AU) is a quick bread (typically using the 'muffin method') baked in forms used for cupcakes. It increasingly has this meaning in the UK too, with the prevalence of American-style coffee-shop chains. Muffin (UK) is english muffin (US, AU), a yeast leavened flat-ish bread, cooked on a griddle with a ring form.
  • Scone (US, CA) tends to be sweeter than a scone (UK).
  • Pancake (US, CA) generally refers to puffy item made from a thick leavened batter. Pancake can also be called hotcakes, griddlecakes, or flapjacks in the US. Pancake (UK) is made from a thinner unleavened batter, with a result a little thicker than a french crêpe. Drop scone (or scotch pancake) (UK) is similar to a (US, CA) pancake
  • Flapjack (US) is the same thing as a pancake. But flapjack (UK) is a baked square usually consisting of sugar/honey, butter, and oats.
  • Frosting (US) is icing (UK, CA, AU). In the US, frosting typically has air whipped into it, while icing (US) doesn't and dries harder.
  • Turnover (US) or hand pie (US) is pasty (ˈpas-tē) (UK). (Pasties (ˈpās-tēz) in the US are coverings to comply with nudity laws in strip clubs.) 'Turnover' may be used in the UK for sweet versions (e.g. apple turnover).

Flour:

  • plain flour (UK) is all-purpose flour (US) (aka 'AP flour' or just 'AP' on cooking shows) unless otherwise qualified (eg, 'plain, strong flour') in which case it just means 'not self-rising'
  • soft flour (UK) is lower gluten than AP flour, such as pastry flour (US) or cake flour (US)
  • strong flour (UK) aka. hard flour (UK) is higher gluten flour, such as bread flour (US)
  • self-rising flour (UK,US) is available in the US, but less common. Although it has baking powder in it, it does not have fat in it such as Bisquick or other 'baking mixes'.

Meats:

  • Ground beef (US) is minced beef (AU, UK).
  • Canadian bacon (US) is also back bacon (from the loin).
  • Bacon (CA, US) is streaky bacon (UK) (from the belly). In the UK, bacon is most likely back bacon.
  • Pork rinds (US) are scratchings (UK, when dry) and crackling (AU,NZ & UK when fresh from a roast).
  • Names of cuts of meat in the US may differ from other countries. See Wikipedia for images of US and British names of regions

Dairy:

  • Cream (US) with 5% butterfat is Single cream (UK), while cream with 48% butterfat (US) is double cream in the UK.
  • Half-and-half (US) = a mix of half cream, half milk (about 12.5% butterfat)
  • Light cream (US) = cream with 18 to 30% fat. But in Canada light cream = cream with 5 to 6% fat.
  • Whipping cream (US) = cream with 30 to 36% fat, whereas whipping cream (CA) = cream with 35% milk fat.
  • Heavy cream (US) aka heavy whipping cream (US) = cream with more than 36% fat
  • Buttermilk (US, modern usage, aka 'cultured buttermilk') is a fermented product, basically a runny yogurt, while historically buttermilk is the liquid left over after churning butter, which when fresh is closer to skim milk.
  • Sour cream (US) = soured cream (UK)

Sugar:

  • powdered sugar or confectioners sugar (US) is icing sugar (UK, CA); contains cornstarch (~3%) as an anti-clumping agent.
  • superfine sugar (US, CA) is caster sugar (UK, NZ, AU); may also be called berry sugar (CA), fruit sugar (CA), bar sugar, castor sugar, instant dissolving sugar, ultrafine sugar, fondant sugar, extra fine sugar.
  • sanding sugar (US) is pearl sugar (CA). (size between coarse sugar & granulated sugar)
  • unless otherwise qualified, sugar (US, CA) is granulated sugar

Other Food / Ingredients:

  • dessert (US, AU) is pudding, sweet, dessert or afters (UK, depending on region and social class)
  • pudding (US) is roughly equiv. to custard (UK)
  • jello (US; brand name issues) is jelly (UK, AU)
  • jelly (US) is seedless jam (UK) (see answer below for details)
  • fries (US, abbr. for french fries) are chips (UK); both terms work in AU
  • chips (UK) are steak fries (US)
  • chips (US, AU) are crisps (UK)
  • cornstarch (US) is cornflour (UK)
  • corn flour (US; aka masa harina/fine corn meal) is cornflour (UK)
  • cider (US) is unfiltered (cloudy) juice, commonly from apples, while cider (UK) is an alcoholic beverage made from apple juice (aka. hard cider (US) or scrumpy (UK) for stronger dry ciders)
  • all-purpose flour (US) is plain flour (UK)
  • liquid smoke (US) is condensed smoke, used as a flavoring.
  • black beer (UK) is a malt liquor/fortified wine containing malt.
  • black beer (US, Germany), also called black lager or schwarzbier is a type of lager brewed with extremely dark malt.
  • tomato sauce (UK) is ketchup (US). Also catsup and other spelling variants.
  • tomato sauce (US) is a tomato based sauce typically for pasta or pizza.
  • marinara (US) is used synonymously with tomato sauce, and may refer to both quick or long-cooked varieties.
  • tomato paste (US) is tomato purée (UK)
  • tomato purée (US) is unreduced tomatoes (possibly stewed) with the skin and seeds removed. Also called crushed tomatoes.
  • tomato passata (UK) (sometimes just 'passata') is strained tomato purée (US).

Cooking methods:

  • broiling (US) is grilling (AU, UK)
  • grilling (US) is barbecuing (AU)
  • barbecuing (US) is slow cooking using wood or charcoal to impart smoke to the food

Tools / Equipment / Non-food items :

  • parchment paper (US, CA) is greaseproof paper (Ireland/ UK, NZ)
  • stove (US, CA) is also range (US, CA) and hob (UK)
  • crock pot (US; brand name issues) is a slow cooker (US,UK). Also slo-cooker (UK; brand name issues)
  • food processor (US, CA) is sometimes a magimix (UK; brand name issues)
  • canned items (US) are tinned (UK). Items 'canned' in glass jars would be described as either 'preserved' or 'pickled' (if in vinegar) in the UK.
  • recipe (US) is sometimes called a receipt in other areas and in older usage (pre-20th century).
  • receipt (US, modern usage) is "a written acknowledgment of having received a specified amount of money, goods, etc."
  • aluminum foil (US), aluminium foil (UK) is often referred to as tinfoil (US, UK), which had previously been in use for similar purposes.
  • plastic wrap (US), cling film (UK) is often referred to as Saran™ wrap (US brand name) or Glad™ wrap (NZ, AU brand name)

Units of measurement :

  • teaspoon (US,UK, CA) is 5 mL (note: abbreviated 't' or 'tsp')
  • dessert spoon (UK) is 10 mL
  • tablespoon (US,UK, CA) is 15 mL (note: abbreviated 'T', 'TB', or 'tbsp') (20 mL in AU)
  • A "stick" of butter (US) is 1/4 lb (113 g); the physical stick is marked into eight "tablespoon" divisions [slightly larger than an actual tablespoon]
  • A "cup" (US) for cooking is a fixed measure of ~236mL (8 fluid ounces, 16 TB, 1/2 a US pint); Other countries may use a 225mL 'cup' or 250mL cup (AU, and some regions of CA?)
  • A "cup" of coffee or tea (when measuring electric kettles) may be based on 5 or 6 oz 'cups'. Always look for the volume in mL or L when buying such items.
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I think it belongs. There are all sorts of these kinds of informative wiki posts on StackOverflow. Ideally, we want this post to be a highly rated GO-TO thread, after it evolves. –  Chris Cudmore Jul 20 '10 at 15:49
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In the UK, a teaspoon is 5ml, a dessert spoon is 10ml, and a table spoon is 15ml. –  Vicky Jul 22 '10 at 13:01
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@GalacticCowboy : it's the FDA's fault ... I put a more detailed explanation in an answer below. –  Joe Jul 23 '10 at 19:35
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@GalacticCowboy : the closest I can come up with is 'Biscuit (US) is similar to a scone (UK)' as UK scones aren't like US ones. –  Joe Jul 26 '10 at 16:55
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"rutabaga (US) is swede (UK)" - depends where you are. The terms 'swede' and 'turnip' swap from county to county. Where I'm from a swede is a hefty yellow ball-sized lump, a turnip a white and green golf ball-sized thing. Travel further south or north and the terms swap over... PS. sugar: it's written "caster" sugar on every packet in every supermarket in the UK. Castor oil is something very different. –  Gary Mar 16 '11 at 13:52
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6 Answers 6

US : jam/jelly/preserves/etc

In the US, there are specific definitions from the Food & Drug Administration on what can be labeled as jam, jelly, etc.

From CookingLight.com, but preserved here in case of link rot:

  • Jelly is a clear, bright product. It is generally made by cooking fruit juice and sugar with pectin as a jelling agent and lemon juice as an acid to maintain a consistent texture. Jelly is firm and will hold its shape (it 'shakes'). Generally, jelly contains no pieces of fruit, although specialty jellies, like pepper jelly, may include pieces of jalapeño or other pepper.

  • Jam is made from crushed or chopped fruit cooked with sugar, and often pectin and lemon juice. Jam can be a purée of fruit or have a soft pulp, but it does not contain chunks of fruit.

  • Preserves are fruit cooked with sugar to the point where large chunks of fruit or whole fruit, such as berries, are suspended in a syrup base. The texture of preserves is not smooth like jelly or jam.

  • Marmalade is a soft jelly, often citrus-based, that includes both the flesh and peel of the fruit suspended throughout the jelly base. The bitterness of the peel offsets the sweetness of the jelly.

  • Conserve is a mixture of more than one fruit, often with added nuts and raisins, that is cooked until it becomes thick. It is used as a spread for breads, pastries and meats, and in the latter use is closest to chutney.

  • Chutney is a spiced condiment of Indian origin (chatni is the Hindi word for strongly spiced) made of fruit or vegetables. It is typically served as an accompaniment to food, not as a spread. The spice level can range from mild to hot, and the consistency from a fine relish to a preserve or conserve. Fruit chutney consists of chopped fruit, vinegar, spices and sugar cooked into a chunky sweet-tart-spicy mix: according to one explanation, it 'blurs the Western distinction between preserves and pickles.'

  • Fruit Butter, such as apple butter or prune butter, is fruit purée or pulp combined with sugar, lemon juice and spices, slowly cooked down to a smooth consistency. The 'butter' refers to its spreadability: there is no actual butter in the product.

  • Fruit Curd is a creamy spread made with sugar, eggs and butter, generally flavored with citrus juice and zest.

  • Fruit Spread is generally a reduced-calorie product made with fruit juice concentrate and low-calorie sweeteners replacing all or part of the sugar.

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+1 for the detailed explanation. In Italy, we use just two terms: marmellata, and confettura. –  kiamlaluno Aug 11 '10 at 16:19
    
Salsa qualifies as Chutney. Pickles in India are dried veggies or raw fruits soaked(?) or brined in oil with dry herbs and spices. In some cases Indian pickles may be even brined only with vinegar. In US pickles are mostly brined in vinegar and may or may not contain spices. Correct me if I am wrong. –  Kumar Apr 6 '11 at 6:27
    
So, when the Americans talk about a "peanut butter and jelly sandwich", what is the 'jelly' they refer to? Does it match the definition above (Jelly is firm and will hold its shape (it 'shakes') ), or should it really be called a "peanut butter and jam sandwich"? –  Jez Aug 10 '11 at 11:14
    
@Jez: the traditional PB&J is made with purple grape jelly, which does indeed hold its shape on, say, a spoon. However, like most jellies, it breaks down easily when spread onto the bread. –  Marti Mar 12 '12 at 23:35
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Italian law (namely the Decreto Legislativo 50/2004) is even stricter about the use of those words in labels. Specifically, it defines the following products as a gelified mixture of water, sugar and: Jam (confettura): at least 35% of pulp or purée of one or more of any kind of fruit. Marmalade (marmellata): at least 20% of one of more of pulp, purée, water extract, peel from citruses only. Jelly (gelatina): at least 35% of juice or water extract of one or more of any kind of fruit. Jelly marmalade (marmellata gelatina): a marmalade deprived of any insoluble element. –  Pino Pinto Jul 9 '13 at 11:33
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Some more...

US = UK
Skillet = Frying pan
Ground beef = mince (sometimes minced beef)
Grilling = BBQ
Chips = Crisps
Fries = French Fries (sometimes chips)
Steak Fries = Chips
Green onions/scallions = spring onions
Burner = Hob (the bit you put the pan on, on top of the stove)
Granola = muesli (in terms of breakfast cereal)
Granola bar = just cereal bar
trail mix = mixed nuts?
Milkyway = Mars bar
Brocolli rabe = doesn't exist, thank god.
appetizer = starter
entree = main course
can = tin
jello = jelly
jelly = jam / preserve

Also, not just food and equipment, but actual measures also differ in size, eg. Imperial and US gallons, not to mention the metric equivalents of both.

Other notes:

Bread in the US seems slightly sweeter, especially the lower quality generic white bread. Potato flour bread is hard to find in UK.

half-and-half doesn't exist in the UK. For the Brits, it's half milk, half cream. Good for coffee, if you make the mistake that's 50% fat or something and so low-fat milk, you'll be confused putting it on cereal. I was.

Root beer really should be easier to find in UK. Similarly, Irn Bru should be easier to find in US.

As as aside, the biscuit/cookie difference in the UK is to do with cooking. Biscuit is from the french 'bis cuit' - cooked twice. So, basically cookies that are cooked twice, and end up firmer. Also, generally less sweet. Although they run the full gamut, but definitely not US biscuits. People in the UK understand the term "cookie" but only from American TV and films.

Technically, in the UK, dessert and pudding both exist, and have their own specific meanings. I forget which exactly, put pudding being cooked, baked, etc, while desert is fresh or something. Also called 'sweet' sometimes, generally (sounds classist, but whatever) in lower-class places.

Before you flame, I'm English, but have been living in NYC for 4 years, so I've seen both sides pretty well.

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The list doesn't really show the subtle details, as you point out examples where there might not be a similar item in one language, or there might not be differentation between two concepts. I was also wondering, what do you mean by "should be easier". Do you mean it needs to be easier (and thus is currently more dificult), or that it's typically easier to find currently? (one of my Brit friends said he can't stand root beer, as it's a flavoring for medicine) I've also never seen Irn Bru; some things might be more available in NY but not the greater US. –  Joe Aug 8 '10 at 11:42
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Ah, sorry, Irn Bru is hard to find, even the UK, being available all over Scotland, the only place in the world apparently that Coke isn't the top selling soda, and also in certain part of the north, eg. Manchester, and to an extent the rest of the UK. Certainly not available in the US. I just think it should be available in the US. But, yes, there are a lot of details being left out, and also, details in understanding that are ignored. eg. Fries in the UK will be understood in mean chips everywhere, but used mainly in US fast food places. Otherwise, a menu will say chips. –  Alex Aug 10 '10 at 18:53
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Given the volume of US television and movies available, most US language is known. The reverse is certainly not true I've found. –  Alex Aug 10 '10 at 18:54
    
Half-and-half on cereal is very yummy. Not something you can eat every day, but still, sometimes it's good to run out of milk. :) –  Marti Mar 12 '12 at 23:38
    
Actually, a Mars Bar and a Milky War Bar are somewhat different; the latter is a lighter consistency. We have both in AU. –  staticsan Mar 20 '12 at 2:19
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British Gas Mark to Degrees Conversion

  • Gas Mark 1/4 : 225°F : 110°C
  • Gas Mark 1/2 : 250°F : 120°C
  • Gas Mark 1 : 275°F : 135°C
  • Gas Mark 2 : 300°F : 150°C
  • Gas Mark 3 : 325°F : 160°C
  • Gas Mark 4 : 350°F : 175°C (often considered 180°C)
  • Gas Mark 5 : 375°F : 190°C
  • Gas Mark 6 : 400°F : 205°C
  • Gas Mark 7 : 425°F : 220°C
  • Gas Mark 8 : 450°F : 230°C
  • Gas Mark 9 : 475°F : 245°C

I've based this table off of a number of sources that have slightly different values; I'm going to assume that the 25°F for each gas mark is correct (as those all agree), and derived the Celcius from there, rounding to the nearest 5. See the first three for descriptive terms like 'moderate oven', as they don't all use the same adjectives.

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Minor point - "jelly (US) is jam (UK)" - in UK, a jar of SEEDLESS jam would be called "jelly", eg. raspberry jam would be full fruit and have the pips in it, but raspberry jelly would have the pips sieved out when it was made.

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Very true, though it does give rise to confusion between seedless jam and actual jelly (which the Americans call jello). –  Orbling Apr 9 '11 at 2:14
    
Charlotte, see this list of US fruit product definitions. Also, I've specified that 'jelly (US)' is 'seedless jam (UK)' to make it a bit clearer ... I'm guessing that 'jelly' in the UK can be used for gelled items made from either juice or artificially flavored boxed mixes, so it's not a straight 1:1 crosswalk, from what you're describing. –  Joe Apr 9 '11 at 3:13
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Not a straight crosswalk, as you say - jelly is used to mean "jello", for "clear" jam, and also for savory jellies eg. aspic, although these are rarely met nowadays. Jam is used where the product is not clear, except when the basis is citrus fruit, which is called orange, lemon, grapefruit or lime marmelade. Marmalade used by itself implies the use of oranges. –  Charlotte Farley Apr 9 '11 at 3:22
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(With regard to your "rarely met" comment on aspic) Unless you are in London (or Essex), where you have jellied eels about, and everywhere with pork pies. [Personally, I hate aspic jelly.] Also, calves' foot jelly is/was quite a common savoury jelly, usually served to people who were unwell. –  Orbling Apr 10 '11 at 1:19
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From Charlotte Farley: endive (US) is chicory (Belgium, perhaps others). A I understand it, UK usage reverses continental usage - so the UK and US call it "endive". The rest of Europe calls it "chicory", and vice versa.

Edit by Rumtscho:

  1. This is called "chickory" (or a clearly related word) in many continental European languages, except in Dutch. Common names in the Netherlands or Flanders are 'witloof', 'witlof' or 'Brussels lof'. (cc by-sa image by David Monniaux). It is bitter, and is often eaten as a part of a cooked dish. The root of this plant is called 'chicorei' in Dutch (so this word is related to 'chicory'), but it is used less and less (it was used as a coffee substitute). chickory

  2. This is called "endive" (or a closely related word) in many continental European languages, but endive or Belgian endive in the US and Canada. (cc sa-by-nc-nd image by Carlos Lorenzo). It is usually eaten raw, in a salad, interchangeably with other lettuces.* It certainly can be cooked as well (mainly the outer leaves). enter image description here

  3. There is another vegetable from the endive family. While it is commonly known as "radicchio", I've heard it referred to as "red endive". Not sure about its common use. enter image description here

*sorry for the beautiful but not too recognizable picture, I couldn't find a better shareable one. Will snap it and update when I happen to buy the thing.

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In Canada, I've always heard 1) as "Belgian Endive" and 2) as Endive. –  Chris Cudmore Jun 2 '11 at 18:24
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in the netherlands 1) is called "witlof" (white leaf) or "Brussels lof". It's eaten either raw in salad, cooked, or sautee'd (sometimes baked over with cheese). 2) in the Netherlands is eaten almost universally cooked, rarely raw (though sometimes mashed raw into cooked potatoes) 3) is used in salads to provide accents in both taste and colour/texture –  jwenting Jul 14 '11 at 8:21
    
3 looks like red cabbage (CA). –  Matthew Read May 6 at 13:56
    
The above would normally be named in the UK as "chicory", "Frisee" and "Radicchio" respectively. Although "Endive" would sometimes be used to refer to any of them, especially the first two. –  Niall May 10 at 2:39
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Muffins vs cupcakes: A muffin here in the US is a so-called "quick bread", traditionally not as sweet or rich (short) as cake, and sometimes even savory.

Cake (or cupcake) batter starts with fat and sugar in a fluffy suspension, then eggs, and then lightly folded in flour (preferably less glutinous "cake flour"), flavorings and liquid.

Quick bread batter is mixed all at once, a lumpy liquid, using regular "all-purpose" or self-raising flour. Fruits, raisins, nuts, and other ingredients may be incorporated that would sink the delicate suspension of cake batter.

When it's baked in a cake tin, plain or with fruit such as apples, it's "coffee cake", often with a baked on topping of cinnamon and crumbs. In loaves it might become banana bread, zucchini bread, etc. Muffins traditionally include bran muffins, which are hardly sweet at all, and plain, banana, poppy seed and blueberry muffins, along with savory flavors.

Almost all quick breads are considered somewhere in between bread and cake, though some would pass for cake in the UK, where American cake is considered too sweet. Here they're served for breakfast or with afternoon coffee or tea, less often as dessert.

The lines are blurred nowadays by the popularity of over-sweet dry muffin mixes and commercial muffins in flavors such as chocolate or caramel -- but if you buy a muffin you still expect it to be "breadier" than cake.

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