National Sponge Cake Day!

Today is National Sponge Cake Day - 23 August

We all enjoy a slice of freshly baked sponge cake.  And what is better than on National Sponge Cake Day to find out how the cake was first created and did Queen Victoria really invent the sponge.

The sponge cake goes back to the 15th century and was the first cake to be made without yeast.  The cakes were whisked using flour, butter and eggs and were light and airy in texture -  as opposed to the bread like bakes made before then.

Sponge cakes appeared in Italy, China and South East Asia during this time. 

However, a recipe for the sponge cake can be first found, in 1615, in a book called 'The English Huswife' written by Gervase Markham.  Markham was well known as a poet and writer. His first book was on horses and the breeding of horses.  However, the 'The English Huswife' was his most well known book and was to encourage the inward and outward virtues of a woman.

The sponge cake recipe transformed over the next two centuries and became an accepted part of High Tea served during that time.  High Tea was then served between 8pm and 9pm each night and was a meal involving strong tea, meats, cake and was eaten at a dining room sitting on a high bench.  

However, for some people having to wait until 8pm for a substantial meal was too long to wait!  Anne Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford decided to take matters into her own hands and requested a light meal to be brought to her dining room in the middle of the afternoon.  The new High Tea was invented!

Anne invited her friend, Queen Victoria, to her new meal and Queen Victoria became a fan very quickly of the High Tea.  The Queen was known to have a very sweet tooth and enjoyed the excuse to have a few slices of cake.  As with so many customs, Queen Victoria started the trend and was followed.  Tea time was born.

It was during this time that Alfred Bird (who had already invented custard powder), a chemist and food manufacturer created baking powder.  This revolutionised the art of baking and sponge making in particular.  The famous Mrs Beeton created a sponge, using baking powder, and named this cake The Victoria Sponge - in honour of Queen Victoria.  

Today, we enjoy a slice of Victoria Sponge with a cup of tea or coffee at any time of the day.  In fact, the recipe for Victoria Sponge was the fourth most popular searched during the recent pandemic lockdown.

All our Houses are proud to make freshly baked cakes for our residents, family, friends and members of our local community.  We are delighted to provide a sponge whether it is a birthday cake, a treat or, indeed, it is a Wednesday.  

Community is important to The Abbeyfield Wessex Society.  Did you know we host Community Mornings and Creative Afternoons at all our Houses?  We can't think of a better way to enjoy friendships and meet new people - all with a delicious slice of sponge cake. 

Happy National Sponge Cake Day!

 

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