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August 2014 - AshbyTreats

The Great British Bake Off and the origins of cakes

As The Great British Bake Off returns to television screens tomorrow, we were left intrigued following last week’s cake theme as to how the origins of cake developed. While cakes have become far more luxurious in their development, food historians believe Egypt was the first country to develop advanced baking skills. In ancient times, cake – derived from the Norse word “kaka”–was predominantly bread-like and sweetened with honey rather than sugar. Ingredients such as refined sugar, nuts and dried food were expensive and cakes became synonymous with a gift for somebody you deemed important. A message that still holds true today. Baking in Europe The first English cakes were essentially bread, according to An A to Z of Food and Drink by John Ayto. Their shape was round and flat and they were hard on both sides due to being turned over during baking. The invention of baking soda and baking power during the Industrial Revolution increased the popularity of baking and new temperature controls on ovens allowed people to leave their cakes to bake while they busy themselves with other tasks. Subsequently, Britain began creating a number of cakes that are still incredibly popular today. The classic Victoria Sponge has one of the most interesting origins. So where did the Victoria Sponge originate? The Victoria Sponge is named after Queen Victoria, who, it is said, enjoyed a slice of Victoria Sponge cake with her afternoon tea. It was one of Queen Victoria’s ladies-in-waiting that was credited with the creator of teatime. Anna, the Duchess of Belford (1788-1861), requested her servants to deliver her some bread and a pot of tea midway through the afternoon. As she later invited friends to join her, cakes became a feature of the menu and soon Queen Victoria began hosting her own parties. Amongst the cakes featured was the cake that came to be known as the Victoria Sponge. During Queen Victoria’s retreat at the Isle of Wight, the cake became synonymous with her. The Great British Bake Off Nowadays, cakes are subject to all kinds of extra ingredients, with Cake Week at the Great British Bake Off seeing Chetna’s unusual cardamom, pistachio and coffee Swiss rollto more traditional flavours such as Richard’s miniature coffee and walnut cakes. The evolution of cakes has become much more luxurious from its humble origins, with our Chocolate Brownie Jars offering a more glamorous cake product using triple chocolate chunks and pecans. Variety and exquisite layout are features many look for in cakes and while many old dishes are still hugely popular, the future of cakes has become much more...

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