50 Fascinating Facts About Baking & Baked Goods

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26 Montreal’s Distinct Bagel Style

Montreal's Distinct Bagel Style

The Montreal-style bagel is smaller, sweeter, and denser than the New York (or Brooklyn) style bagel, with a larger hole. It contains malt but no sugar or salt (unlike the New York style) and is boiled in honey-sweetened water before being baked in a wood-fired oven.


27. Paris holds an annual contest to find the city’s best baguette. Each year, approximately 200 bakers submit two eligible baguettes for grading based on quality, look, smell, taste, and crunch. The winner receives €4,000 and a one-year contract to supply the French president with fresh baguettes every day.


28. People traditionally make and eat Speculoos, spiced gingerbread shortcrust cookies, on St. Nicholas Day and throughout the Christmas holiday season. Traditionally, people emboss them with designs using wooden molds, special rolling pins, or cookie stamps.


29. The pastry known as a “Persian” is available only in the Canadian city of Thunder Bay. Its recipe is a tightly guarded secret, to the point that people don’t even know what kind of berry is used for the topping.


30. Sakotis, a Lithuanian tree-shaped cake, is made by continuously pouring layers of batter onto a rotating cylinder. A 2 kg cake uses 30 eggs, but the largest one ever made was 2 meters tall and used 1200 eggs.


31 Cronut’s NYC Black Market

Cronut's NYC Black Market

Scalpers in NYC sell the cronut, a hybrid of a croissant and doughnut, on the black market for about $100.


32. An amateur Egyptologist, Seamus Blackley, successfully baked bread with 4,500-year-old yeast extracted from ancient Egyptian ceramic jar which was once used to bake bread and brew beer. An injection of a nutrient solution into the jar activated the dormant yeast.


33. There is a Swiss savory pastry with potatoes, vegetables, fruits, and cheese called “cholera.”


34. The digestive biscuit is so popular in the UK that an average of 70 of them are consumed there every second.


35. Burger King once released a Halloween-themed burger complete with a black-colored bun. However, many customers later reported that the burger ended up turning their poop neon green.


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36 Cracker’s Steam-Release Design

Cracker's Steam-Release Design

Crackers have holes because they keep the crackers flat instead of rising a bit like a normal biscuit as the steam tries to escape. These holes also help to properly crisp the crackers.


37. Made from the kernels of either peaches or apricots, persipan is a less expensive alternative to almond-derived marzipan. German stollen pastries commonly use it. However, one must remove amygdalin from the kernels before use, as this compound can cause cyanide poisoning.


38. The “short” in shortcrust pastry refers to how the fats in the dough stop the flour from forming long gluten proteins in any direction. Puff pastry has gluten in layers between layers of fat, like lasagna sheets. If you overwork it, it forms glutens in all directions, making it tough.


39. In Israel, bourekas (savory pastries) have specific shapes and toppings to show what’s inside. For example, salty cheese-filled bourekas are usually flat triangles with white sesame seeds, eggplant-filled ones are cylindrical with nigella seeds, and bean sprout-filled ones are cylindrical without seeds.


40. The French cake known as Kouign-amann, which is 30% butter and 30% sugar, is the fattiest pastry in all of Europe.


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41 Custard Monks: Pastel de Nata’s

Custard Monks: Pastel de Nata's

Catholic monks created the Portuguese custard tarts, known as Pastel de Nata’s, to support their monasteries.


42. The first gingerbread man was made for the court of Elizabeth I of England and fashioned to look like distinguished guests.


43. If preserved with alcohol, fruitcakes can remain edible for hundreds of years.


44. Star-Gazey pie is a Cornish pastry dish that has fish heads poked out of it.


45. Rationing during World War II led to the creation of wacky cakes, also known as crazy cakes. Unlike many pastries and desserts, they are unique in that the cake batter doesn’t contain eggs, butter, or milk.


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46 Portuguese Abade de Priscos Pudding

Portuguese Abade de Priscos Pudding

The Abade de Priscos pudding, a Portuguese caramel flan, consists of fifteen egg yolks and prosciutto fat, as well as sweet wine.


47. Because the South almost exclusively grows and sells soft wheat, US-style biscuits tend to be of higher quality there. Soft wheat is better for biscuits but worse for bread. The opposite is true for the hard wheat in the north and west of the United States.


48. Fruitcakes last a long time, intentionally. Originally, people baked them at the end of the harvest, saving some for consumption at the start of the next year, believing this would ensure a good crop.


49. The largest pancake ever made weighed more than 3 tons and had to be flipped by a crane.


50. In the past, people would grind human bones into flour to make ‘bone bread.’


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