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.

Students and cakes
Table of cakes
Students and cakes Table of cakes

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.

Cutting the cake
From left to right: Rita Davies, Executive Director, Toronto Culture; Fiona Lucas, President, CHO; Mayor David Miller of Toronto; Pam Wachna, Curator of The Market Gallery, Toronto, and Ulana Baluk, Museum Administrator, Toronto Culture. They are in the Market Gallery, St. Lawrence Market, which was Toronto's City Hall from 1845 to the 1890s.

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.

Rich Plum Cake whole
Rich Plum Cake sliced
Rich Plum Cake Rich Plum Cake Sliced!

Photo credits: Mary F. Williamson.

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