175 Years of Cakes
On Friday, March 6, CHC provided one of the eight cakes in the "175 Years of Cakes" refreshments for the intermission of the 175th birthday party for Toronto held by the York Pioneer and Historical Society. The other seven cakes were made by students in the Applied Food History course taught by Liz at George Brown chef school. They were lined up chronologically, and were served by the students themselves to delighted guests. All eight cakes were crumbs only by the end of the intermission.
Then, on Saturday, March 7, our ceremonial cake was beautifully displayed at the opening reception for a wonderful exhibit on Toronto's visual and literary past, "Lit City: Toronto Through the Eyes of Authors and Artists". Mayor David Miller was there and participated in a cake cutting moment.
The cake is a Rich Plum Cake, full of raisins and currants, and flavoured with sweet spices, brandy and rosewater, and orange peel. It is part of the British tradition of "great cakes" for special occasions that the colonists brought with them. The specific recipe is from The Frugal Housewife’s Manual, by a woman who called herself A.B. of Grimsby. It was printed in Toronto in 1840, and is the first English-language cookbook composed by a Canadian woman. Plum is an old word for dried fruit, so this is a traditional fruit cake with a marzipan layer and a hard egg-white icing.
Four members of CHC made the cakes from scratch and baked them in the 1826 brick oven at Fort York National Historic Site, Toronto’s birthplace.
Photo credits: Mary F. Williamson.