Thursday, 20 October 2011

A Piece Of Cake

A cup of tea and a slice of cake. Sounds good doesn't it? An English tradition. A winning combination to make you feel good or better. A 5 minute break to take the weight off your feet and natter. Our tea guzzling and cake chomping habits have been around for what seems like forever. A part of our national I.D., like a Victoria Sponge recipe. The jam and cream of our culture. A sweet creamy layer holding the halves together. In celebration of this, we've reclaimed that vital component: the craftsmanship in cakes. The bake and technical skill just as important as the taste. Amateur baking, a hobby increased. A trend for homemade sweet and savoury treats. Cupcakes, biscuits and pies. Aprons on, home cooks take it in their stride.

For weeks I gasped, drooled, and judged watching The Great British Bake Off. The contestants perfecting their craft. Their baking skills put to the test. Recipes tweaked here and there, and elaborate designs delivered. All showed finesse in set tasks. Thanks to this, sales of baking equipment has risen. The kitchen, the hub of the home again. Baking, an activity that can be shared. The making and the eating. No age limits, gender or race discrimination. Done on your own, you can de-stress and get a brilliant upper arm workout. Get children involved. They love a creative mess. Licking the spoon is compulsory. The end result - the eating is always a success. Still slightly warm, that first bite is the best.

Baking was an informative part of my childhood. My maternal Nan was a dab hand with pastry, cakes and desserts. Making jam tarts, a fond memory. Rolling, cutting out the pastry case, and sieving jam through tights. Simple ingredients conjuring up happy memories... The weekly trip to buy a French stick. Unable to wait to munch on the crust and pull out its springy centre. The smell of freshly baked bread hard to resist until home.

National Baking Week is here, encouraging us to bake and share. Concern Worldwide getting into the act with its Bake A Difference appeal. Why not get baking and whip up a batch? For amateur bakers, it's a piece of cake to raise some dough!