What happened to baking: Hobby or necessity?

By Hollie Bradbury
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Many, many centuries ago, the first evidence of baking occurred when humans took wild grass grains and soaked them in water before mashing them into a broth like paste. The paste was then cooked on a flat, hot rock with the result resembling a bread like substance.

And just like that Baking was born.

Baking holds special significance in a number of culture’s, In Victorian Britain, when the Duchess of Bedford, Anna Russell grew tired of the sinking feeling which afflicted her every afternoon at around 4 o’clock ..she asked for a tray of tea, bread and butter, and freshly baked cakes to be brought to her room. Once she had formed the habit she found she couldn’t break it, so spread the word among her friends instead. As the century progressed, afternoon tea became increasingly elaborate with more adventurous sweet treats added to the tray.

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These days a visit to a coffee shop isn’t complete without a slither of cake.

It is fascinating how just knowing the right temperature or the right quantity can create a masterpiece.

I always describe myself as a better taster than a baker so amongst a tray of cucumber sandwiches and freshly baked scones I took five minutes this afternoon to chat with my baking hero my Grandma, who has been whipping up delights in the kitchen for as long as I can remember.

There isn’t anything she hasn’t baked, whether it’s simple jam tarts or elaborate birthday cakes.

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Between bites we dig out some old recipe books and talk all things baking from a time gone by.

As we sit around the table I pick up a very fragile recipe book named ‘Naughty but Nice’’, it is backed with a sunny yellow cover and art deco style font, my Grandma smiles: “Ah yes, this is a baking book that myself and a group of other young women collated to raise money for the church. Inside there are all kinds of baking recipes, It was nice to be apart of a baking community, there was a a bit of competition though.”

I ask my Grandma why people aren’t as interested in baking as she was when she was a young girl: “People just don’t bake as much anymore because it can be so time consuming, often it is nowadays cheaper to buy ready made cakes and sweet treats as opposed to forking out for all of the ingredients and equipment to start baking from scratch.”

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“Back in my day baking was a necessity, you simply had to work out how to make something tasty from miss matched ingredients, there were these shops called ‘scoop stores’, inside there were barrels and barrels of baking ingredients and you could take a container and fill it as high as you could pack it, I guess now you can just head to the supermarket and buy everything in packets.”

“These days more and more people bake as a hobby, it’s gotten quite fashionable hasn’t it? I like to watch the Great British bake-off, they bake some classics on there, my favourite thing to bake is pineapple upside down cake, or scones because they’re quick and easy.”

My memory’s of baking with Grandma are fond, when I was little I would be her assitant and was always allowed to lick the spoon.

Do you have any memories of baking with your Grandma? Leave a comment below.

 

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