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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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A Soul Cake for All Hallows’ Eve

Posted on: 31/10/2013 with tags: All Hallows' Eve, An Appetite for Violets, food, Food Historian, Food History, halloween, historical fiction, history, Martine Bailey, Soul Cakes

It is the end of October, the fields are bare, the leaves have been blown from the trees, and the nights are growing longer. The darkness is coming. At this time of year we celebrate the end of summer and the cycle of death and rebirth. From as far back as anyone can remember, on one special night we gather together to share food and drink, play tricks and games. It is a time to connect with our ancestors, and honor the dead. In my home county of Cheshire this gathering has long had a unique nam…

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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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Historic Heston: a Radio 4 Book of the Week

Posted on: 21/10/2013 with tags: An Appetite for Violets, bbc radio 4, Book of hte Week, food, Food Historian, Heston Blumenthal, Historic Heston, history, Martine Bailey, The Great British Bake Off

While we’re waiting for the finale of this year’s series of The Great British Bake Off and Martine Bailey’s post to accompany it tomorrow, we’ve been catching up on last week’s Book of the Week on BBC Radio 4.  If you haven’t listened to it yet, we highly recommend that you do, but hurry, for there are only a few hours left to listen to Episode 1 here. In Historic Heston, world-renowned chef Heston Blumenthal charts the best of British cooking from the mediaeval to…

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