Craft bakers are helping to preserve regional words and dialects, according to a new survey for National Craft Bakers’ Week.
Traditionally, bakers have prefixed local specialities with the name of their town or region, giving us the Bakewell tart, Gloucester drips, Eccles cakes, Chelsea buns and the Tottenham slice.
While the online survey of 100 bakers produced for the Week (7-13 October) showed many are maintaining this tradition, it also highlighted that they are preserving regional names for the most popular baked item: the bread roll.
The roll can be known as a stottie in Newcastle, bread-cake in Yorkshire, barm cake in Liverpool, oggie in the South West and bap in several places around the UK.
The word “bread” was first recorded around 950BC, and the word “cake” circa 1230.
With bread traditionally considered as a savoury food and cake as sweet, originally the words were both used to describe the modern definition of bread.
Jonathan Robinson, lead content specialist for Sociolinguistics at the British Library, said: “Bread was historically a generic term for any baked item and ‘cake’ and ‘loaf’ originally referred to the shape of that ‘bread’ – with cake usually being smaller and ‘loaf’ meaning ‘large bread’.
“This explains why there are so many different words for bread roll in use around the country and why, often, the description for a bread roll may include the word ‘cake’.
“I am delighted to see that bakers are helping to preserve regional language and dialect, not to mention the foods they describe.”
The wide variety of baking terms reflects the evolution of English from several roots. The older words such as bread are generally Germanic, reflecting our Anglo-Saxon heritage, while more recent coinages, such as tart, are French in origin, reflecting our Norman heritage.
National Craft Bakers’ Week, which is supporting the Teenage Cancer Trust, is organised on behalf of hundreds of craft bakers across the UK, who form a key part of the British high street. Bakers will be fundraising on behalf of the charity.