Let’s get baking!
If you watched Wednesday nights episode of The Great British Bake Off, chances are you’ve had baking on your mind for quite some time! The first episode of the latest season, starring twelve new amateur bakers hoping to go pro, had our fresh-baked contestants tasked with baking a divine lemon drizzle cake, before trying to make heads or tails of Mary Berry’s famous jaffa cakes recipé (with crucial details removed, of course…) In the episode’s finale, the bakers had to pull out all the stops, and really impress the judges with a recipé of their own choice, resulting in some stunning creations (and a great big upset at the Star Baker decision!)
Every year, around this time, the British public go nuts for baking. Fact is, as a nation, we can be pretty good at baking when we want to!
Baking has been commonplace in British culture as early as the Middle Ages, with a focus on subsistence – most baked goods were bread, or pies. The rich would eat fine, floured white bread, while the poor would eat rye or black bread. As for cakes, they were reserved for the most social elite, and would be much heavier, often up to 20lbs in weight! The 15th century saw the introduction of exotic spices to Britain. Those who could afford it often enjoyed sweet dough, made with cream and butter, and the wigg – a bun made with sweet dough, herbs and spices – becomes popular.
In the 16th and 17th century, globalisation leads to a huge availability of exciting new ingredients, including treacle and currants. Baking became more accessible, and we saw the emergence of baking equipment, including the cake tin. The pastry became fashionable, the English priding themselves on their skills with making pastries. In the 18th century, cake making took off, and became accessible even to the poorest of society, and in the 19th century, baking powder means cakes become lighter, and introduces flour, eggs, fat and raising agents to cake making.
To celebrate the nation’s obsession with all things baking, we’re holding our annual Bake Off competition once again! We want to see not just your best efforts at baking, but also the worst baking disasters! We’ve got two vouchers, both worth £50, to spend on our website Gardens & Homes Direct, which we’ll be giving to two lucky entrants: one for the best, and one for the worst! Be sure to submit a photo to be in with a chance of winning; we’ll be awarding our winners on the 5th of September. If you need to whip up a fresh batch, try our Gardens & Homes Direct Cookshop, with all you need to start making pastries and pies in no time!
Thanks for reading, we hope you enjoyed learning a little more about the history of baking, and good luck to everybody who enters our competition – remember, no entry is a poor entry! For all the latest updates from Gardens & Homes Direct, including special offers, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+, and sign up for e-mail updates using the box at the top of this page. Cheers!