BAKING IN THE 1920s - THE DECADE THAT ROARED

Seren Charrington-Hollins, Food Historian

 

The 1920s were an exciting period for commercial and home bakers alike, with plenty of cooking innovations making the task of baking easier and more efficient.

Whilst the gas stove had arrived at the end of the nineteenth century it was only really in the mid-1920s onwards that many British householders began to benefit from this new technology. 

Indeed the 1920s is the era when we really saw the 'modern kitchen' emerge and this was as a direct result of the gas stove transforming what was once just a cooking area, into a space for cooking, preparing food, washing-up, and eating. The gas stove not only revolutionised the way we ate and cooked in Britain but it changed the way we used our homes and in conjunction with other technology such as the hot water geyser, the function of the ‘kitchen’ began to change. Baking became more exciting and the kitchen began to emerge as a place for leisure as well as work.

By the 1920s making a cake was no longer a laborious task, as improvements in flour, baking powders and kitchen appliances were all coming into common popularity and as a result baking was on an upward trend. 


1920s Gas Fired Stove
KITCHEN MIXER


In 1915, The Women's Institute had been founded and throughout the 1920s they were on hand to encourage, advise and educate women across Britain about the wise ways of cooking and baking.

In addition, as more cooks and housewives were released from the oppression of the coal fired range, home baking was promoted with an influx of new cookery books for cooking with gas.

Popular ingredients such as beef suet began to feature in recipes for puddings on packaging whilst other manufacturers of ingredients including cocoa and baking powder produced fully branded recipe booklets for bakes, cakes and desserts.





As the jazz era was in full swing and the British swooned over cocktails and flapper dresses there was no doubt that baking was basking in the warmth of its popularity.

Many women were encouraged by adverts in the national press to take up home baking as a source of extra income.

Meanwhile, commercial bakeries enjoyed experimenting with new baking innovations including margarine, which aided them in reducing the costs of their baked goods and extending their market appeal and customer base.

This was an exciting decade for the commercial baker and saw the birth of many new bakeries and the expansion of well-established ones.

 

 

Flour in Bakery
Apple Flan


Calling into the bakers on the high street was now habitual and not an out of reach luxury, even for the poorer classes. 

Indeed the 1920s saw a better array of cakes, bread and sweet treats lining the shelves of bakers than ever before, with better grade flour, ingredients such as vine fruits and sugar needing less preparation and falling in price, more variety in baking fats becoming available, and oven innovations all helping to make the bakery industry a roaring success.

 




The iconic dessert Eton Mess emerged during the 1920s and in many ways it sums up this era of indulgence and creativity, symbolising a break from the conformity of stodgy Victorian puddings. 

Cakes and desserts of a lighter, more creative style were very much the vogue in this era and whilst sponge cake remained the epitome of decadence in the 1920s, commercial bakers were also concentrating on elaborate gateaux, elegant tartlets and fashionably styled slices that were a feast for the eyes and stomach. 

Indeed commercial bakers were enjoying the ability to make lighter and fluffier cakes with more ease than ever before and were enjoying the profits of quicker and more reliable baking processes. Baking had never been so attractive for professionals and amateurs alike.
 


ETON MESS