Travel back in time with The Great Historic Bake Off

By Darren Lum


Connect with history have fun and win prizes with Minden Hills Cultural Centre and Heritage Village’s Great Historic Bake Off.


The bake off includes a weekly video baking lesson set in the kitchen of the Bowron House posted online featuring recipes from the past; a home-baking photo contest past or present; and access to an online community cookbook where the public is encouraged to add recipes or learn about recipes from historic cookbooks in the museum collection as well as from local businesses.


Minden Hills Cultural Centre and Heritage Village’s curatorial programming assistant Shannon Quigley said she was inspired to have a bake off because of how much she enjoys The Great British Bake Off.

“I’m a big fan of the TV series The Great British Bake Off and especially love it when they delve into the history of a recipe. I thought it would be fun to do something similar here at the museum using recipes from our collection of historic cookbooks” she wrote in an email.


Taking the baking to the virtual realm was part of the new way of doing things during the pandemic which allows the continuation of the museum’s cooking demonstrations.


“Our historic cooking demonstrations in Bowron House kitchen are a real highlight at the museum each summer. We knew that we would have to do things differently this year and I wanted to recreate those demos online and give people a chance to participate by sending in photos of their home bakes and submitting recipes to an online cookbook” Quigley said.


A different theme is explored each week during the virtual baking lessons starting with pies cookies bread and then cake. Each recipe is selected from a historic Canadian source. Quigley said most of the recipes come from cookbooks housed at the museum. All the recipes are available on the museum’s blog.


The first in the online video series is a potato pudding pie baking video. It was a recipe from the The Dominion Home Cook published in 1868.


The next video will feature strawberry shortbread cookies which is made from a recipe taken from a promotional cookbook published by the Magic Baking Powder company in the 1930s. This will be followed by recipe for potato bread from The Home Cook Book and the series ends with a birthday cake from 1894 which is also from The Home Cook Book. Videos are posted Mondays.


The benefit of an online community cookbook (mindenhillsculturalcentre.blog/community-cookbook) is that it maintains a connection to the past.


“Food is a wonderful storyteller and reviving a historic recipe is like stepping back in time” Quigley said. “This online cookbook is a place for us to document recipes we try out in our historic cooking demos. We also want this online community cookbook to be a space where people share recipes – both old and new! Do you have a recipe that holds special meaning? Please share!”


Recipes can be emailed to Quigley. She asks people to include a photo and note about what makes the recipe special. She suggests the photo can be a snapshot from the kitchen a photo of the person the recipe is associated with or the dish.


Quigley will be reading through historic recipes and discussing the next topic of interest with Cathy McIlmurray during her After Nine show on Canoe FM close to 9:30 a.m. on Wednesdays in July.

The cookbook will also serve to document historic recipes from the museum’s collection and keep track of the recipes used by the museum in the historic cooking demonstrations.


“Even when we reopen and can start doing cooking demonstrations in person it’s nice to be able to share what we’re up to online” she said.


The hope is to continue the bake off next year.


“I would love to run the Great Historic Bake Off at the museum again next summer when we can do live cooking demos and baking competitions held under a big white tent on the grounds. In the meantime we hope people will take part in our online activities and enjoy learning about historic recipes at home” she wrote.


There’s still time to submit your photo related to the themes of the week to be eligible for the first of four $25 gift certificates from Molly’s Bistro Bakery. The deadline for the pie photos is Friday July 10 and the winner will be announced Saturday July 11. Other deadlines are July 17 for the cookie photos July 24 for the bread photos and July 31 for the cake photos. Winners are selected in a random draw.

Details on how to submit photos can be found at mindenhillsculturalcentre.blog/the-great-historic-bake-off.