Proper Pastry-Eating Etiquette, According to a Royal Butler

“Ladies and gentlemen, please remember that while having a pastry in the morning, you only take one,” he says in the video. And if you’re the host, don’t forget to offer a baked good to your guests before filling your own plate.

These tips apply to pastries in general, but scones come with their own set of rules. If you want to enjoy the British treat like Queen Elizabeth did, slather on the jam first and the clotted cream second. Here are more ways to eat and drink like the late queen.

Is the first thing you think about when you wake up in the morning: what is the right way to eat a pastry? Not us. Personally, we like dive into a bread basket, tear apart the croissants and savour in those delicious flaky bites. While that might be fun in practice, apparently there’s a specific and more refined way to eat a pastry, who knew?

While this all might sound a bit remedial for something as simple as eating a croissant, we assure you these pro tips will elevate your hosting game for future brunch-ins. Pinkies up y’all!

Hold back those hungry hands

Like in most table settings, it’s better to offer your guests the opportunity to grab a pastry first. Trust us, we know when the pastries are fresh there’s always one that stands out as your favourite, but as a host it’s your duty to ensure your guest gets first dibs.

Take one, if you can

Whether you’re at a fancy brunch or indulging at home, Harrold suggests taking one pastry. This is advice we simply cannot condone: While we understand piling on your plate might not be the most elegant, eating only one pastry for breakfast is pure madness.

Our rule of thumb

Make sure to have a variety of pastries readily available when serving a brunch basket. The worst feeling is when your guests arrive and all you have to serve is the lesser fan favourite, pain aux raisins. We suggest a mix of croissants, pain au chocolat and perhaps a chausson aux pomme or two.

Prince Charles’ Former Butler Says This Is the Only Proper Way to Eat a Pastry

See if you agree with his suggestions.

Photo: A. Taha Tercan / EyeEm / Getty Images

Finally, we’ve got an answer to an age-old question: What, exactly, is the correct way to eat a pastry? Sure, we’ve all got our opinions. Some people peel croissants before chomping into the buttery center. Others dig in, bite by bite. Some take one pastry, while other people wouldn’t consider it breakfast without (at least) two.

The recent video that caught our eye is less about the mechanics of actually eating a baked good, but instead digs into the act of obtaining one. Let’s break it down.

Hold off on grabbing a pastry first.

“Offer to your guests first,” says Harrold. It doesn’t matter how hungry you may be or how many pastries are sitting on the plate, etiquette is making sure everyone has a chance to claim a baked good before the host.

Only take one when it’s your turn.

“Ladies and gentlemen, please remember that while having a pastry in the morning, you only take one,” Harrold says in the video.

And the commenters had tips, too.

ALTHOUGH it’s challenging to resist the urge to devour a cake in front of you, an elegant lady must restrain herself.

According to one etiquette expert, different cakes require a different approach to eating them.

Each cake requires a different eating practices

Etiquette coach Lucy Challenger covers how to eat each style of cake

Lucy Challenger is well-versed in all things etiquette.

In her recent TikTok, she covers the different eating styles necessary for each kind of cake.

First, she covers pound cake.

“If you are served a dry cake such as a pound cake, you would tear it into small bite-sized pieces with your fingers and then neatly eat with your hands,” she explains.

From dry to moist, Lucy uses utensils to eat her cheesecake.

She says most moist cakes often require you to use both a fork and a spoon, but it’s not always necessary.

If the cake was a custard cake, Lucy explains how you would use a spoon to eat the cake and a fork to eat any berries on the plate.

“Pie or crepes served à la mode with either fork or spoon or both,” Lucy says.

For a more hard dessert, Lucy uses a poached pear as an example.

These types of desserts require the purposes of a spoon and a fork to be switched.

“The spoon would now be used for cutting, and the fork would be used to bring the poached pear to your mouth,” she explains.

A birthday cake is different.

Since a layered birthday cake is most likely to be placed on your plate upright, Lucy says you must use your fork and spoon to lay it on its side.

Once the cake is on its side: you can use a fork or a spoon to eat it.

A dessert fork is designed differently from a normal one.

Lucy shows how a dessert fork has a thicker outside edge to help cut it.

She then proceeds to demonstrate how she would eat her cheesecake in front of her.

A dessert fork has a think edge to make cutting easier

“I take my dessert fork, I cut into the cheesecake separating a small bite-sized portion, and now depending on the density of the cheesecake, I spear the cheesecake with my fork and then place it into my mouth to eat,” she says.

Lucy continues to say: “If the cheesecake is not as dense you can cut into it from the top using the tines. You can then scoop the cheesecake up and again eat in one bite-sized neat portion.”

While Lucy suggests setting your fork down between bites of cheesecake, some viewers find that difficult.

“I find the most challenging part about cheesecake is having time between bites to set the fork down,” one commented.

But one viewer admitted they already practice this type of etiquette.

“Not me doing all this anywhere everywhere,” they wrote.

The royal family is famous for their strict dining etiquette at formal meals — although that said, Queen Elizabeth could also be pretty casual when she wanted to be. For instance, while at Balmoral Castle, the queen enjoyed eating dinner on a tray on her lap while watching the British TV show, Doctor Who.

Remember this when a royal offers you croissants

M. Unal Ozmen/Shutterstock

If you ever find yourself enjoying a gossipy breakfast with a member of the royal family, then first things first — you’re going to have to up your teacup game. There is actually a correct way to hold a tea cup, which is with your index finger and thumb against the top of the handle, while your middle finger should keep the bottom steady (via Reader’s Digest). Also, pour tea into the cup first and milk second — and when stirring, never let your teaspoon clatter against the sides. Finally, you don’t have to stick your pinky out when drinking tea — it’s a myth and royals never do it.

British etiquette expert, Grant Harrold — former butler to King Charles — also has a specific tip about pastries. Apparently, when offering around a plate of baked items, you should always let your guests take theirs first. What’s more, you should never take more than one pastry (via The Royal Butler). This will put you in a pretty agonizing situation if you can’t decide between the pain au chocolat, cinnamon bun, or Danish — and let’s face it, we’ve all been there.

The queen’s surprising breakfast favorite

That said, the queen wasn’t particularly partial to pastries or anything too fancy for breakfast, as a general rule. According to Delicious, her tastes were a whole lot simpler. Usually, she’d tuck into humble Kellogg’s Cornflakes that she’d pour for herself out of a plastic container, alongside Darjeeling tea with no sugar.

So now you know — if royalty ever comes knocking at your door, make sure that there are hot-buttered kippers ready in the pan — and that you mind your Ps and Qs when holding your teacup.

Etiquette expert reveals the posh way to eat cake -from how to handle dry versus moist bakes to the correct cutlery to use

13:49 BST 14 Jul 2022

, updated

14:12 BST 14 Jul 2022

  • London-based content creator Lucy Challenger makes TikTok etiquette videos
  • The 38-year-old recently made a video demonstrating the posh way to eat cake
  • She explained that the way you eat will depend on the type of cake consumed
  • Dry cakes can be torn into bitesize pieces by hand, moist eaten with cutlery

An etiquette expert has revealed the posh way to eat cake – and it all depends on the kind of bake you’re eating.

Lucy Challenger, 38, who is based in London and Berkshire, is the founder and CEO of high-end Mayfair agency Polo and Tweed, which sources employees for uber-wealthy clients.

In a recent video, Lucy demonstrated the proper formal way to eat cake, in a British setting, explaining: ‘Depending on the type of cake you are served, will depend on how you eat it.’

She continued: ‘If you are served a dry cake, such as a pound cake, you would tear it into small bitesize pieces with your fingers, and then neatly eat with your hands.

Lucy Challenger (pictured) is a businesswoman and TikTok content creator who often makes videos about etiquette. In this video she tackled the proper way to eat cake in a formal setting

The 38-year-old often tackles tricky etiquette issues around formal dining

In this video, she explained to her viewers why they will sometimes need a dessert fork

‘A moist cake, for example, a cheesecake, you would use a fork and a spoon if required.

‘With ice-cream cake, for example, you would use the fork and the spoon. The fork is used to hold cake, and the spoon is then used to cut and convey the food to your mouth.’

And the etiquette rules don’t stop there. Things are further complicated if the dessert is accompanied by any sauces, for example, custard, for which you would use a spoon.

However, the fork could be used for eating berries, which are often served alongside custard.

When it comes to cake, pie, or crepes served à la mode (with ice-cream on the side) they can be eaten with either fork or spoon, or both.

For hard desserts, like poached pears, you would switch how the utensils are used.

Lucy explained: ‘The spoon would be used for cutting, and the fork would be used to bring the food to your mouth.’

Birthday or layered cake, which is served standing upright, should be turned on its side using a fork and spoon, then either implement can be used to eat it.

Lucy explained that scooping food with a fork is not normally acceptable within a British formal dining situation, but that it is fine to scoop when using a dessert fork

The etiquette expert then went onto introduce another piece of cutlery to the cake eating arsenal: the dessert fork, specially shaped to assist with both cutting and spearing food.

‘To eat my cheesecake, I take my dessert fork,’ said Lucy. ‘I cut into the cheesecake, separating a small bitesize portion.

‘And now depending on the density of the cheesecake, I spear the cheesecake with my fork, and then place it into my mouth to eat.’

A cheesecake that’s less dense can be scooped from the top.

‘Remember typically in British formal dining, we don’t scoop with a fork, however, it is perfectly acceptable to scoop using a dessert fork.

‘In between bites, you can place the fork neatly down by the side of the plate, then you can continue to enjoy your cheesecake when you’re ready.’

The detailed instructions struck a chord with etiquette-loving viewers, who complimented Lucy on the video.

One wrote: ‘Oh how lovely, some of my friends from law school are having a dinner party tomorrow, I will be hosting and desert will be cheesecake.’

Meanwhile another joked: ‘I find the most challenging part about cheesecake is having time between bites to set the fork down.’

And a third added: ‘Quintessentially British.’

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