What is a Flies Graveyard?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 12 October 2019
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Flies graveyard is a colorful and slightly repellent name for cookies make in the UK that have a layer of raisins or currants sandwiched between two cookie or pastry layers. They can be frosted, creating what looks like plain white tombstones, or merely given a sprinkling of powdered sugar. The raisins in the center could with a bit of imagination be considered dead flies, certainly qualifying the cookies as having one of the most unusual names for food.

Flies graveyard cookies or flies cemetery as they may also be known, are available in lots of bakeries in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. They may be sold as fruit squares or currant squares, but most residents of these countries will identify them by their more colorful appellation. There are also some companies that sell flies graveyard on a large commercial scale.

Most identify the Garibaldi biscuit (cookie in American lingo) as a flies graveyard style cookie. The cookies have a generous amount of squashed currants in between two semi-sweet cookies, and they’ve been manufactured in the UK since the mid 1800s. Unlike flies graveyard sold in bakeries, Garibaldi biscuits aren’t always sprinkled with sugar or frosted. The tops look like simple soda crackers, minus the salt, and they should be softer and chewier than crackers. Some companies produced chocolate flies graveyard Garibaldi biscuits, though this is no longer the case, saddening many who were fans of this variety.


Flies graveyard cookies may vary in taste. Some contain a filling similar to mincemeat, which means cooking the currants, sugaring them, and adding a bit of vinegar to produce a sharper taste. Choice of dough for the cookies can change taste, texture, and crunch or chewiness too. You will often see similar cookies to currant or fruit squares in American bakeries too, where they’re usually not known by their unusual UK name.

The most common recipes for flies cemetery suggest using simple pastry dough, a combination of butter, lard, or margarine, flour, salt, and a bit of water. Other recipes suggest adding sugar or egg to the pastry. Some recipes produce a softer cookie, similar to the well-known fig newton. Using a pastry crust would produce a flaky pastry and a crunchy cookie. A few recipes suggest adding some of the currant or raisin mixture to the pastry, so that you can see a few “dead flies” on the top and bottom of the cookie.

There are a few other pastries and cookies that may be called flies graveyard. These include the Eccles cake, which is a larger round flaky pastry with lots of currants or raisins in it. The name makes most sense though, when applied to rectangular or square tombstone like slabs.


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Post 1

I'm from England and have never heard this exact term applied! However, 'dead fly biscuits' or 'squashed fly biscuits' are certainly names in use for biscuits such as Garibaldi.

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