Bake Off and the best national cakes on offer

Bake Off and the best national cakes on offer

As we wait to see whether Kim-Joy, Rahul or Ruby take the coveted Bake Off trophy, we take a look at how their cultural background has influenced their journey to the final in the competition.

We also take a trip around the world to see some of the best national cakes on offer.

With the Great British Bake Off coming to an end this week, the series has followed the trials and tribulations of twelve competitors as they attempt to prove their baking skills. 

Finalists 

The first finalist, Kim-Joy, whose birthday happens to fall on World Baking Day, was born in Belgium to an English father and Malaysian-Chinese mother. Her bustling personality, and mixed cultural heritage is shown in her attitude to all styles of baking - loving anything rustic by baking in every type of bread there is.  

Having grown up in Kolkata and moving to the UK on a university scholarship, Rahul Mandal is the second finalist to make this year’s running. After moving, he discovered an array of new flavours and cuisines, and has taken classic bakes infused with Indian flavours to influence his ‘East-meets-West’ style of baking. 

Similarly, our last finalist, Ruby Bhogal has also drawn from her Indian upbringing where she remembers her mother making Jalebis’ - an Indian sweet. With a pretty relaxed and boozy baking style, Ruby often gathers friends and family to indulge in her cakes and pastries’. 

Over the series, we have seen a collection of beautifully detailed cakes with traditional international flavours: from Kim-Joy’s delightful ‘Choux au Craquelin Religieuse with orange crème diplomat’ to Rahul’s mouth-watering ‘chocolate-dipped orange madeleines’, and Ruby’s scrumptious ‘Apricot and frangipane kagekone’.  

There is a long tradition of cakes named after the place they originated - from the Dundee Cake to the Danish pastry. While you’re on your travels, it’s always worth trying out the local treats and seeing if there are any ideas you can bring home to make you a star baker. Here are some options to make up an appetising world tour.

New York Cheesecake

Cheesecake is thought to have originated from Greece in around 2,000 BC, the NY version we know now was created by Arnold Reubens in the 1900s. It isn’t the only US-based dessert to achieve acclaim – Mississippi Mud Pie, named after the river, and Key Lime Pie after the Florida Keys have also achieved worldwide popularity but locals claim they still make the best.

Pavlova whips up war down under

The pavlova was created to celebrate the world tour ballerina Anna Pavlova in the 1920s. The meringue is at the centre of an ongoing feud between New Zealand and Australia over where it was first invented. The OED lists its origins as New Zealand, but given how tasty it is, it’s no surprise that the Australians are not ready to let it go as a national dish.

Mexico’s Tres Leches cake is perfect for hot summer days

A perennial favourite, Tres Leches is a cold vanilla sponge soaked in a sauce made of three types of milk - sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and regular milk. In case that’s not indulgent enough, some versions substitute regular milk with heavy cream and if you’re visiting Mexico in the summer is the perfect way to cool down.

Madeleines are France’s unforgettable treat

Originating from the Lorraine region in the North-East of France, these plump little sponge cakes are best known for appearing in the opening of Proust’s novel Swann’s Way. The taste reminds the character of the taste of his childhood and sparks a long reminiscence. If you’re looking to make memories as well as cakes, this might be the place to start.

Sweden serves up a cake fit for royalty

The Swedish Prinsesstårta, or Princess Cake, is comprised of alternating layers of airy sponge cake, pastry cream, and a thick-domed layer of whipped cream which is topped with marzipan. The recipe first appeared in 1948 and got its name because the country’s princesses – Margaretha, Märtha and Astrid - were such fans of the treat. Any cake with a royal seal of approval has to be worth trying.

Battenberg is a cake with English and German roots

Another cake with royal origins is the Battenberg cake, named in honour of the marriage of Princess Victoria, Queen Victoria’s granddaughter. It is named for the town of Battenberg in central Germany and also the aristocratic Mountbatten family in the UK. Comprised of light pink and yellow squares held together by jam and wrapped in marzipan, the cake remains popular both sides of the Channel.

Venture into the black forest for Germany’s top cake

The schwarzwderkirschtorte, or black forest cake, was invented in Germany in 1915 by a pastry chef named Joseph Keller at the Café Ahrend. The traditional recipe calls for four layers of chocolate sponge, cherries and whipped cream and you can still visit the place, now called Café Agner in Bad Godesberg, where it was invented. 

Ring in the New Year with Japanese Mochi

This Japanese rice cake is made from short grain rice, which is pounded into paste and molded into the right desired shape. This light dessert is eaten year round, but it is a feature of the celebrations for the Japanese New Year and makes for a light treat to balance out some of the greater excesses of the celebration.

Wherever you travel, remember to check out a local bakery and find out more about the history of your sweet treats. We can’t help you avoid a soggy bottom or a collapsing flan, but as exchange experts, moneycorp can help with your travel money so that you can just get on with planning your culinary tour. 

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