Baked goods are very popular, served at parties and special occasions. Though we might believe it originated as a western cuisine it actually is not so. It is highly popular in Middle East and other Eastern Countries as well along with Asia. Baked goods are also main items served at tea parties be it the nursery tea or high teas.
How did high-tea originate?
Now, if we go in search of the tradition of high tea, you will see that it originated from Britain during the Victorian times. Story so goes like this. The Duchess of Bedford, Anna Russel often experienced a “sinking feeling every afternoon around 4 o clock”, which she was tired off. So, once in 1840, she asked for tea to be served tea with bread, butter and cake. It soon became a habit, which she couldn’t break out off. She also made it popular with her friends and it soon became a popular tradition. Meanwhile, you can see that over the centuries the afternoon tea had become a more elaborate process.
Baking Traditions – An Overview
Now if we are to come back to some baked goods, you’ll find that baking can also be related with some religious and ritual importance. For example, matzo is very special baked product of the Jews with special religious or ritualistic significance. They also use baked Matzah bread ground up or as part of other dishes like the Gefilte fish and bake it again.
In the same way, Christians bake bread and use it as a vital food item for the sacrament of Eucharist. Alternatively, baked bread is often taken by children to the fields during a spring ceremony that celebrates the 40 martyrs of Sebaste, as part of the Eastern Christian traditions.
How cookies became a part of Christmas Tradition
Cookies may have been a very large part of festive seasons, even before the origin of Christmas. However, here we trace back to the origin of Christmas cookies, recipes for which dates back to Medieval Europe. This was the time when new and highly prized ingredients like cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, black pepper, almonds and dried fruits were introduced to the west.
As these were not easily available and were a bit expensive, most families could afford to use it in recipes of baked goods only during Christmas. So baking was often in an elaborate manner for this season. Soon Christmas cookies were popular all over Europe by 16th century and families started to bake up batches of cookies in all sizes and shapes symbolic of Christmas. They also gave it to friends and neighbours.
A very famous cookie synonymous with Christmas is the Gingerbread Cookies. It originated in Germany and over the years it has evolved more as a cake like pastry. You can go back to the age of crusades to date its origin. This was when soldiers brought some special spices back to Europe. Later on, it was also linked to Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. It also became a part of other German Christmas traditions.
Decorative Moulds and Baking
Over years baking evolved and you can now get baked goods in all sizes and shapes. Baking is done using various shaped moulds or cookie cutters. It was in 17th century that the German and Dutch settlers brought decorative moulds and cookie cutters to the US. Well these soon facilitated and developed cookie baking a lot. However, some things remain the same till date.
Arabic Baking and Tradition of Khubooz
Baking we have already established is not particular to west. Arabs too have certain baked dishes specific to their culture, which has now found its place among international cuisine. One such popular item is Khubooz or Khubz. Let us look at the tradition behind it.
The oldest known bread in Northern Jordan, as found by Archeologists dating back some 14,000 years was similar to the modern type of Arabian bread.
Khubooz is a kind of Arabic, Lebanese or Syrian round leavened bread, which is a staple diet of Arabian Peninsula up to Morocco. It is also called as the Arabian Pita bread. In the meantime, origin for this is traced back to Western Asia, probably Mesopotamia around 2500B.C. This flat round bread also resemble other flatbreads like Iranian nan-e barbari or the Central and South Asian flatbread such as naan.
The pizza base Khubooz is baked traditionally in a Tannur. In Arab countries and in Turkey, Khubooz is a round flatbread of some ten inch diameter. Also, it is best served hot. The common fillings used in Egyptian, Iraqi, Lebanese, Jordanian, Israeli or Syrian cuisines for Khubooz are falafel, lamb or chicken often as a shawarma. In addition, you can also find fillings like kebab, hummus or omelettes made of eggs and tomatoes.