Cakes are something we take entirely for granted today. It only takes a few minutes to whip up a simple butter cake or a coffee cake for unexpected visitors. But this was not always the case. The home desert of choice used to be a boiled pudding. It may have been quick to throw together but it took ages to cook, three or more hours (remember last weeks wedding cake recipe which was half-way between a cake and a pudding?)
To the Victorian’s homemade cakes were something to get excited over; they were something to fuel the culinary imagination. American’s especially embraced these new technologies. (Okay so I know technically Americans aren’t Victorians not being under the reign of Queen Victoria but who lets such technicalities get in the way? Not 1880’s Girl, that’s for sure.)
Here are three Inventions that changed the face of dessert forever.
- Cast Iron Stoves
- Baking Powder
Each of these proved to be such fascinating lines of research I have broken them up into three shorter posts, petit fours instead of a massive fruitcake.
#1 Cast Iron Stoves
Prior to the advent of iron stoves ovens were massive built in structures made of brick and mortar, only the wealthy would have houses big enough for them. Or as is recorded for us in Patty Cake, Patty Cake you might pay a fee to the village baker for the use of his oven.
Most cooking was done over an open fire with an assortment of arms, hooks and spits worked into the masonry to accommodate boiling and roasting. Hence the popularity of the boiled pudding.
In 1728, well before the days of Queen Victoria, the first Cast iron stoves began to be made in commercial quantities in the U.S. but these were primarily designed for increased heat efficiency not for cooking.
In 1800 Benjamin Thompson invented the first cook stove but it was still large, cumbersome and expensive. But the idea caught on. Inventors, designers and blacksmiths across New England began patenting their own new designs. By the mid 1800’s Troy New York hand nearly 200 factories making stoves for homes all over the U.S.
This meant housewives could now easily and efficiently bake in the comfort of their own kitchens, bread and biscuits (scones) for everyday, pies for something sweet, cakes for something extra special.
Just having a cook stove wasn’t enough Victorians needed…
Stay tuned for the riveting history of baking powder.