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Buy My Wares – The Great British Bake Off Week Eight

Posted on: 24/09/2014 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, author blog, baking, cakes, historical fiction, history, Martine Bailey, The Great British Bake Off, The Penny Heart

The fruited breads and doughnut challenges on this week’s episode of The Great British Bake Off recall the great British tradition of street food. For centuries fruited bready buns were the staple of street hawkers, crying their wares or singing early advertising jingles like the ‘Sally Lunn bun’ song of Bath: ‘No more I heed the muffin zest, The Yorkshire cake or bun,  Sweet Muse of Pastry teach me how,To make a Sally Lunn.’ Doughnuts too, have a history of being outdoor food long before Krispy…

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Eaten Cake Is Soon Forgotten – The Great British Bake Off Week Six

Posted on: 10/09/2014 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, author blog, baking, cake, historical fiction, historical novel, historical recipes, Martine Bailey, Mary Berry, Paul Hollywood, recipes, taffety tart, The Great British Bake Off, The Penny Heart

This week on The Great British Bake Off, Paul and Mary challenge the contestants to bake a continental cake – a Germanic Gugelhupf, fluorescent green Swedish Princess Cake, and a showstopper of Hungarian layered Dobostorta. So where are the British equivalents to these symbols of national pride? ‘Eaten cake is soon forgotten,’ says an old proverb, and so it seems in the case of British bakery. Grand Tourist, George, Lord Lyttelton,1762, summed up his patriotic fondness for cakes when  he wrote f…

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Have Biscuits, Will Travel – The Great British Bake Off Week Two

Posted on: 13/08/2014 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, author blog, baking, BBC, biscuits, food, historical fiction, historical novel, Martine Bailey, The Great British Bake Off, The Penny Heart

It is Biscuit Week on The Great British Bake Off, with some cracking challenges: to bake savoury biscuits, Florentines and build a 3D creation from biscuit. Biscuits originated as rock-hard military or sailors’ rations, that were ‘bis-cuit’ (twice-baked) to prevent them from mouldering. ‘As dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage,’ says Jacques in As You Like It, recalling the thankfully forgotten experience of trying to eat one of these jaw-crackers. The British Navy mass-produced shi…

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Even the Cake was in Tiers (in honour of Episode 10 – the Finale – of The Great British Bake Off

Posted on: 22/10/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, baking, food, history, Hoefnagel, Martine Bailey, The Great British Bake Off, tiered cake, Wedding, Wedding cake

It’s the grand finale of The Great British Bake Off this week, and what could be more fitting than to bake a tiered wedding cake? No bakery item is so laden with superstition, folklore and potential difficulty. Attempting to follow the crumb trail back through history, we discover bride cakes pictured in about 1570 in Hoefnagel’s A Wedding Fete at Bermondsey. Hoefnagel’s A Wedding Fete at Bermondsey showing bride cakes. Looking like gigantic trays slung around the necks of young men parading jus…

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