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The rise of the modern day baker

WE’RE IN THE MIDST midst of a baking resurgence with homemade marvels whetting our appetites everywhere we turn. From bragging rights on social media to the mass of cooking shows battling it out on the box, it would appear that dusting down the aprons and getting to grips with grease-proofing is back in vogue.

But is the modern-day baker a true match to generations gone by in the kitchen, or should we be ashamed of the excuses and the degree to which we rely on time saving alternatives?

A study by the Cake & Bake Show has unveiled that traditional baking skills are dying out because modern day home cooks are simply too busy to learn the basic essentials. A significant rise in new technology and kitchen gadgets has proved to be the icing on the cake for the ultimate death of a string of skills that generations before managed to carry out with ease.

The classic and quintessentially Great British favourite, the Victoria sponge, is one staple from yesteryear that many (six out of every ten people surveyed) look to their own parents or grandparents for help with. Similarly with bread, a staggering 86% of under 40s declared they would only attempt to bake their own with the aid of a bread maker.

Homemade custard is on the cusp of extinction too with over 80% admitting to not knowing the basic ingredients required, while three quarters of respondents confessed they wouldn’t know how to make gravy from scratch. Over half of those polled couldn’t poach an egg without the aid of a gadget, while DIY Jams, pastry and pies are also being ditched in favour of ready made, off the shelf equivalents.

However, it’s not just a lack of knowledge or expertise failing us, as some of the celebrity chefs headlining the bill at the Cake & Bake Show wade in to explain.

John Whaite, UK food writer and former Great British Bake Off winner
“It saddens me. I think basic culinary skills should be on every school curriculum – and I don’t just mean slathering Nutella on to a shop-bought pizza base. Kids should leave high school knowing how to make at least five meals, as well as knowing where food comes from.
“That said, I don’t always make my own puff pastry, not for testing recipes, anyway. If it’s for a delicious pie or a family tea I will, but if I’m writing recipes I just use shop-bought, it’s far easier. Also, I rarely sift my flour!”

Rosemary Shrager
“Modern is helpful for various things but gadgets are not always necessary and sometimes can get in the way. It’s best to always learn the basics and then the modern gadgets can be helpful at times. Nowadays I always use a processor to make life easier. I also can’t live without my thermomix! Saving time is key for me and in all our busy lifestyles, if we can do it quicker and get the same results then it’s all good.”

Eric Lanlard, Master Patissiere and founder of Cake Boy
“As much as celebrity chefs, programmes on TV and social media bring people to our industry, too often it doesn’t give a true image of what the industry is. You often see the younger generation wanting the easy, glamour side of being a chef. There is no secret though. You won’t become a Master Patissiere or a Michelin Star Chef if you don’t know all your basics and classics. Of course there are always new techniques, equipment, gadgets or ingredients to make our lives easier in the kitchen and I welcome them, but it is nice to know in the back of your head that you are trained and capable to do something without using all these short cuts.”

Candice Brown
“I hate peeling and chopping garlic so I do buy and always use it ready chopped. It’s lazy, I know, but it really gets on my nerves for some reason! But I am a bit of an old soul and love retro, vintage and nostalgia so I will always encourage the old-fashioned way – at least give it a try anyway!”

Baking is back with a bang. This year the Cake & Bake Show is expected to welcome over 70,000 visitors across both events to a whole range of baking – from artisan bread making to easy cheats.

The Cake and Bake Show opens at ExCel, East London (6-8th October) and continues at EventCity, Manchester (9-12th November). Advanced tickets to the show are available now at:

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