England's Lancashire Courting Cake Has A Long Romantic History

Food isn't just a means for survival, but an expression of culture, creativity, and ecology. For many, it's a love language. England's Lancashire Courting Cake is the most literal expression of food as love, with a charming backstory rooted in summer romances.

The Lancashire Courting Cake's romantic history dates back to summertime in 1920s northern England when summer fruit was as ripe and bountiful as the prospect of young love. Unmarried women used ripe, heart-shaped strawberries along with their romantic desires to bake a cake for the men they wanted to date.

Historically, brash romantic advances, casual dating, and other modernities were improper. For chaste and modest couples devoid of tactile displays of affect or desire, the Courting Cake was the most sensual way for young women to win the hearts of their crushes through their stomachs. Not only were courting cakes a sweet and pleasurable offering to kindle romantic love but their presentation and execution were a testament to a woman's capability as a homemaker.

The warm and delightful summer climate beckoned young men and women into the town square to test the waters of chemistry; Men and women would parade in front of each other, on the hunt for coy eye contact to plant the first seeds of a budding relationship. Once a couple had established a bond, the courting cake sealed the deal and paved the way for a more serious commitment.

What's in a Lancashire Courting Cake and is the tradition still alive today?

The Lancashire Courting Cake is a simple recipe that is nearly identical to an English strawberry spongecake, consisting of two vanilla sponge cakes with layers of sliced strawberries and cream. The ingredients are accessible and summery, with an easy execution. We may not all be culinary geniuses, so an easy Courting Cake recipe allows even the most novice young baker an opportunity to successfully woo her betrothed!

While courtship rituals and gender roles have advanced significantly over the last century, Courting Cakes are still a charming and delicious tradition in their namesake town of Lancashire. They gained nationwide fame after being featured on the globally beloved "The Great British Bake-off" cooking show.

Perhaps the most famous preservation of the Courting Cake's legacy occurred in 2011 when soon-to-be-married royal couple Prince William and Kate Middleton delighted in a Courting Cake during a publicized visit to Lancashire. Today, local bakeries produce Courting Cakes. But, they are still a popular summertime recipe to bake and share with love.