Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Food module: Researching into desserts - A brief origin of desserts, Honey and Sugar

Whilst researching into individual desserts for the group research for our theme of desserts, I found some interesting points of the history and origin. Interestingly the first sweet or dessert was considered to be honey, in which ancient civilizations considered to be a gift from their deities, in which became a food to celebrate and use as a talisman for warriors before they went to battle and from evil spirits. These talismans were made from 'Honey Cake' also known as Lebkuchen, with other uses such as healing properties. The method for Honey Cake consisted of just flour and honey, where the mixture would be left for about a month in which the naturally made yeast would cause it to rise. This recipe was then developed further to include additional ingredients such as spices and dried fruit. Interestingly honey was not only used for the sweet taste that it brought but also for its natural preservative properties. With the spices that were added to it, eventually ginger became one of the most common additions to the cake, which transferred to Britain to become the famous gingerbread biscuits that we eat today.

Honey was mainly used in the origin of desserts rather than the most common ingredient that we use today, sugar, due to the expense. Sugar was extremely expensive to the extent that only the rich were able to obtain some, and even then it wasn't a huge amount. Originally only the sugar cane was brought and it was eaten raw on the cane rather than added to anything as an ingredient to sweeten the taste of either a beverage or food. To be able to store and transport more sugar in trades, an efficient way of turning the sugar cane juice into granulated crystals was invented, creating less expense in travel. Interestingly as the trades routes widened the demand for sugar increased exponentially, creating the demand for cheap labor and more sugar cane farms to be created. This can be interpreted to have linked with the development of the cake that we eat today with in the industrial revolution in which the advancement of technology made it possible to create mass amounts of cake to be sold at markets and shops. This demand for sugar turned into a necessity.


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