Records show that already in the years 2600-2100 B.C. bread was baked by Egyptians, who it is believed had learned the skill from the Babylonians. A relief representing the royal bakery of Ramses features bread and cakes, some of these were shaped in the form of animals and used for sacrifices. Other early records, this time by the Greek scholar Aristophanes, show the existence of honey flans and patterned tortes. According to Aristophanes, the ancient Greeks also had a type of doughnut made from crude flour and honey called “Dispyrus” a ring-cake that was submerged in wine and consumed hot. Inevitably Greek culture influenced the Roman Empire ; bakery know-how was transformed and really flourished. During the fourth century A.D., evidence also emerges of the first pastry-cook’s association or “pastillarium” in those times nomenclature, and the sweet art of pastry-cooking (considered decadent by some) emerged as a highly respected profession. In the time of Christ around three hundred independent bakers existed in Rome, recorded by Cato how rewarding and diverse the trade was. From the Roman Empire, the art of pastry-cooking gradually spread throughout Europe and the world. One of the best known painters, the Dutchman, Rembrandt, created a sketch in 1635 showing a pancake cook in the streets, surrounded by children eagerly waiting and hoping for a sample.
“It is only the modern that ever becomes old-fashioned.” Oscar Wilde
Baking, in my native Hungary, is an essential part of life and its art and trade secrets are handed down from generation to generation. Recipes are embedded in the culture, where the baking with grandmothers and mother is creating a vast array of home-baked recipes as an artistic repertoire for each wife-to-be young lady. The lists of ingredients and their exact mixture techniques are secretly guarded jewels, becoming parts of the family heritage. Sharing these recipes is equally great honour for the one who gives and the one who receives the gift of vintage baking.
“Good, old-fashioned ways keep hearts sweet, heads sane, hands busy.” Louisa May Alcott
225 g flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
A pinch of salt
20 g butter
35 g duck fat
100 g grated cheese
100 g smoked, dry Parma ham, chopped finely
100 ml milk
10 ml soured cream
10 ml beer
3 tbsp mustard
grated, dry smoked cheese
Heat the oven to 220 degrees C. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter, fat, mustard. Stir in the cheese, ham and then the milk, soured cream, beer to get a soft dough. Turn onto a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round about 2 cm thick. Use a 5 cm cutter to stamp out rounds and place on the baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up. Brush the tops of the scones with a little milk and sprinkle the smoked cheese on. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack.
For an idea ever to be fashionable is ominous, since it must afterwards be always old fashioned.” George Santayana