We are already halfway through this year’s series of the Great British Bake Off and it’s almost impossible to not to come away with an overwhelming desire to eat a cake (or two). If you’ve come to escape those desires, then you’ve come to the wrong place as we delve into some fun facts about the likes of Jaffa cakes, the largest cream tea party and red velvet cake…
1. Chocolate chips were invented AFTER the chocolate chip cookie.
The first chocolate chip cookies were invented by accident. The story is baker, Ruth Wakefield added chopped chocolate to cookie dough thinking it would be a shortcut to creating chocolate cookies. The idea was that the chocolate would melt as the cookies baked – this wasn’t incorrect to a degree as the chocolate did melt but not all the way and those studs of chocolate goodness were the beginning of a new classic. This happy accident led to the production of easy-to-use chocolate chips a few years later, which are now a baking staple.
2. Royal icing got its name from Queen Victoria’s wedding to Prince Albert
Pure white icing was first used on a wedding cake for Queen Victoria and Prince Albert’s wedding which is why it’s called “royal icing”
3. The first flatbread was baked by hunter-gathers 14,400 years ago
In July 2018, it hit bakery headlines that archaeologists had discovered charred remains of flatbread thought to be baked by hunter-gathers 14,400 years ago at a site in north-eastern Jordan. This is the oldest direct evidence of bread found to date and despite being one of the most important foodstuffs in the modern world, the origins of bread are still largely unknown.
4. There is no VAT on Jaffa Cakes in the UK (and they are not biscuits)
Introduced in 1927 by McVities and named after Jaffa oranges, there is no VAT paid on Jaffa cakes in the United Kingdom. VAT is payable on chocolate-covered biscuits but not on chocolate-covered cakes and in 1999 these scrummy snacks were faced with a VAT tribunal to rule that Jaffa cakes were biscuits due to their size and shape, and the fact they were often eaten in place of biscuits. McVities defended its classification and the court ruled in favour of McVities that Jaffa cakes should be considered a cake.
5. The largest cream tea party had nearly 1,000 guests
On Sunday 1 July 2018, the Guinness World Record for the largest cream tea party in one venue with 978 people in attendance – that’s a lot of scones! It was organised by Cath Kidston and was attended by fans of the brand, including special guest Mary Berry. All of the event ticket sales, a total of £11,000, was donated to Cath Kidston’s chosen charity, Friends of the Elderly.
6. The first wedding cakes were loaves of bread
One of the first traditions associated with wedding cakes was in Ancient Rome, where bread was broken over the bride’s head to bring good fortune to the couple. There have also been such things as a “groom’s cake” and a “bride’s pie” which were served up until the early 19th century.
7. Red velvet cake gets its name from the texture not the colour
You would assume looking at a serving of red velvet cake that it gets its name from the colour, which is like crushed velvet. But no, it’s actually from the smooth texture of fine cake crumb. Red velvet cake is often served on Valentine’s Day and at Christmas and the colour doesn’t have to be made with a dye-colour, beetroot can give the distinctive colour instead.
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