STOP SUPERSIZING! Joanna Blyth­man ex­plains why we should give up on the over­sized sweets trend

Bakes and bis­cuits have bal­looned, but it’s time to down­size

BBC Good Food - - Contents - @joannablyth­man Joanna Blyth­man

n the café of a stately home re­cently, I must have ap­peared rather stupid by ask­ing the very pleas­ant woman be­hind the counter if they had any scones. She looked at me, sur­prised, then pointed to a bas­ket of baked rounds that were the size of a side plate and about three inches thick. I hadn’t recog­nised them as scones, tak­ing them as cir­cu­lar loaves. The ‘deal’ with these su­per­sized scones was that, for £6.99, they came with a tiny pot of jam, and ei­ther but­ter or cream (also small), which was never go­ing to be enough to anoint the vast scone, and a one-cup pot of tea. ‘They’re enough for two peo­ple,’ she ex­plained. But what I re­ally wanted was a ‘nor­mal’ scone – much smaller, with the ideal ra­tio of crust to airy mid­dle, so that it wasn’t just a pile of doughy stodge, and about half the price. This ex­pe­ri­ence brought home to me that Bri­tish cakes and bak­ing have been su­per­sized. It’s not just scones that have ex­ploded – bis­cuits have been rein­vented as gi­ant cook­ies. And think of those meringues with the di­men­sions of a small cloud. I’m ex­ag­ger­at­ing, but meringues used to be man­age­ably pro­por­tioned, which was wise, given how much sugar they con­tain. Eye­ing up cake coun­ters these days, it seems to me that all the clas­sic cakes (Vic­to­ria sponge, choco­late, car­rot, lemon driz­zle) have deep­ened and dou­bled. They look stun­ning, of course, but it re­minds me of the first time I vis­ited the US, my eyes pop­ping at how ev­ery­thing sweet seemed to be twice as large as back home. Are we catch­ing up with the US, or just catch­ing one of its bad eat­ing habits? It’s a cu­ri­ous phe­nom­e­non, given what’s hap­pen­ing in restau­rants, where small plates and ta­pas por­tions are fash­ion­able. Down­siz­ing dishes works well in restau­rants be­cause it keeps the bill down and din­ers don’t have to plump for one dish – they can hedge their bets and try out a few. We need to in­tro­duce the same logic in the cakes de­part­ment. It’s crazy that nowa­days, when re­duc­ing sugar is con­sid­ered to be the para­mount tip for good health af­ter giv­ing up smok­ing, our plates are heaped with car­toon-sized cakes. Like every­one else, I love a good scone or cake, but a few mouth­fuls are re­ally enough to sat­isfy the urge. I ap­pre­ci­ate that vis­ual abun­dance and gen­eros­ity sells bak­ing, but do any of us re­ally need to chomp through a slice that would eas­ily serve two? Ei­ther we end up overeat­ing, or we’re de­feated be­cause our eyes were big­ger than our stom­achs. Small is beau­ti­ful in my recipe book. As some­one who ag­o­nises over which con­fec­tion to go for, I’d wel­come be­ing able to taste two or three small but ex­cel­lent ones. If we’re hon­est, lots of sponge-type cakes are pretty dull af­ter a few bites. Even the finest brownie is sick­en­ingly rich if you eat too much. As all bak­ers know, in­gre­di­ents these days are ex­pen­sive. Fruit, choco­late and the like all rack-up big bills. Sub­sti­tut­ing lower-grade in­gre­di­ents isn’t the an­swer, but re­duc­ing size could be the new way to cut ex­pense with­out sac­ri­fic­ing qual­ity, and re­store a civilised and healthy sense of pro­por­tion to our bak­ery se­lec­tions. Good Food con­tribut­ing ed­i­tor Joanna is an award-win­ning jour­nal­ist who has writ­ten about food for 25 years. She is also a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor to BBC Ra­dio 4.

Are we catch­ing up with the US, or just catch­ing one of its bad eat­ing habits?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.