I don’t want to put any of you off your pastries today, but I feel this story should be told. In August, 1968, U.S Patent Number 3,409,442 was granted for a ‘No-Bake Cake Mix.’ The name is a little misleading, for the product is indeed baked – but not by the consumer. The objective was to provide a simulated bakery product, which did not require cooking, but “offers the texture, taste, mouth-feel, and other qualities similar to a conventionally cooked bakery product.”
In the words of the patent applicant:
“This invention is founded on the discovery that the above objectives can be accomplished in a product comprising a baked and dehydrated bakery product in crumb-like form and an edible binder.”
It appears that the ‘crumb’ and the ‘edible binder’ can be can be converted into ‘simulated baked goods’ by the consumer “… without the necessity of batter preparation or the use of heat.” All that is required is the addition of water to the dry mix, a little (not too exhausting) whipping, and the moulding of the resulting mixture into a suitable shape, and – Voila! one has a ‘cake.’
There follows, in the patent application, a lot of scientific stuff, which I do not understand, but is liberally sprinkled with phrases such as:
edible binder material
hydrophilic gelatinous substance
degraded whippable protein
hydrolyzed water soluble proteinaceous extract
other whippable cereal proteins
frothy cellular structure for commingling with the cake crumbs
mechanism … not fully understood
Heating of the final product is not forbidden of course - indeed, it may be advantageous to “gently warm the ingredients so that they may be served in a heated and more flavorful condition.” And, no doubt, to allow a little creative latitude for the ‘baker.’
I do wonder to whom this product was pitched. Someone far, far, from a bakery (even of the supermarket variety), with no cake in the freezer, and no oven or fuel to cook a packet cake-mix? Would this product satisfy your craving for cake? Wouldn’t you rather have bread and honey instead?
Admittedly, the ‘cake’ would be quicker to prepare than ‘from scratch’, especially when you take into account that the original ‘from scratch’ method involved quite a lot of physically hard work.
Take a dish of butter, and beat it like cream with both your hands; two pounds of fine sugar, well beaten; three pounds of flour, well dried; mix them in with the butter; twenty-four eggs, leaving out half the whites, then beat altogether an hour. Just as you are going to put it in the oven, put in a quarter of an ounce of mace, a nutmeg grated, a little brandy, and seeds or currants as you please.
The Female's Friend, and General Domestic Adviser (1837) by Robert Huish
Quotation for the Day
Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the 'Titanic' who waved off the dessert cart.
Good gad. What an abomination.
An understatement, Ferdzy!
Hmm, isn't this the stuff that went into the mixes for the Easy Bake Oven?
I remember 'baking' some cakes by lightbulb and eating them as a kid. Even then it made no sense that it took upwards of 40 minutes to bake a real cake but you could throw something into a closed plastic box with a lightbulb for 10 and have a cake!
Not that that kept us from eating them...
Childhood mystery solved!
I wonder if they were originally made for either space travel, defence force stationed overseas or for use within the prison systems...
Hi Aurora - I've never heard of the 'lightbulb' oven - thanks for telling us about it! I must look into it. Perhaps the light bulb provided the gentle warming that enhanced the flavour?
I confess that the gentle warming didn't enhance the flavor to anything approaching tasty, but sugar was what really mattered when I was a kid.
I appears they still make both the ovens and the 'cake mixes' which so scary on so many levels that I don't quite know where to start...
Thanks for posting this tidbit!
Hi Aurora (sorry for the late response) - you are right, kids like it sweet.
Anonymous - I think that space and military requirements have driven a lot of food science and technology, but I dont know about this particular development.
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