There has been a great resurgence in baking classic cakes, puds and pies. Britain has always been a nation of bakers; however, we have become a nation that is very interested in reviving old recipes and indeed in preserving regional bakes.
When it comes to deciding what to bake and indeed what baked treat to enjoy with a hot drink, people are turning to classic comfort cakes. There is something comforting about nostalgic bakes both in the making and indeed eating and whilst Victoria Sponge and Carrot Cake are always favourites; people are now looking to experience new flavours and modern trends such as salted caramel.
According to Mintel Survey results, forty-one million Brits or 79% of adults say they enjoy baking at home. It seems that baking has now become fashionable and a look at the home-baking section of any supermarket is reflective of the baking boom that Britain is currently experiencing. However, some regional and traditional bakes have fallen from the grace of our dining tables and are not currently enjoying a revival. Bakes such as Banbury Cakes, Pepper Cake which originated in the North of England and Bishops Cake which contains whole Brazil nuts are in danger of becoming extinct. It would seem that these recipes are just not fashionable anymore and indeed many people have not even heard of them; however, with such a wealth of history it would be great to see them experience a revival.
The world of baking is currently one that is adventurous and experimental in terms of flavours and techniques and it is great to see some of these recipes revived and revamped, as it is a way of keeping recipes alive. After all, recipes were never meant to be static. Recipes through history have been passed down through the generations with family members changing ingredients to reflect changing trends and tastes, and thus creating new family and baking traditions.
Baking is an art that is very creative and should never be consigned to history books, but in order to keep old recipes alive they need to be baked and the recipes need to be adapted to appeal to modern tastes and indeed baking methods. Whilst baking purists may worry about changing a recipe; the great thing about taking an historical recipe and making changes to it is that it generates interest in the bake and people will naturally take an interest in the original recipe, its history and the new flavour combinations.
In short experimenting with old recipes and new flavours is of great benefit to historical bakes, because it keeps them alive and breathes new life into them, after all many of these recipes were born from experiment in the first place.
The Victorian’s loved colourful novelty cakes like the Neapolitan Roll, Domino Cakes and of course the Battenberg. These fanciful cakes were ideal for afternoon tea and their chequered designs were always guaranteed to delight guests.
As a rather indulgent continental treat for both the eyes and the taste buds; the Black Forest Gateau proved to be a taste sensation in the UK and its popularity saw it become a ubiquitous staple of restaurant dessert menus and dinner parties in the 1970's and 1980’s.
The Bakewell Tart is a true food legend and the ultimate tea-time treat, but when looking at the history of this regional delicacy it can all get a little confusing, with recipes for custard based dishes, icing tops, glacé cherries and simple flaked almond toppings all competing for space in the mixing bowl; alongside the competing stories of culinary invention.
There was a time when the English banquet table would have been gracefully adorned with sugar plums, syllabubs, flummeries, junkets and trifles. Today the only well known pudding from this list would be the trifle.