Just like the rest of our story, the origins of our baking date back to Tudor times – an age when food and drink varied greatly according to wealth and status. In the 16th century, the period in which the Maid of Honour cake made its first appearance, sugar and spices shipped from the New World were a sign of wealth – so the ingredients were of the finest and most costly available.
Still today the ingredients used to make Maids of Honour, and everything else we bake are traditional and wholesome – with dairy fresh butter, free-range eggs and other natural ingredients that are sourced as locally and ethically as possible. We don’t use any artificial flavours, colourings or preservatives. These values are not an afterthought – they are the way have always done things and they are what makes us.
Into the oven!
In Tudor times ovens were not common, with most cooking conducted over an open flame or fire in pots, skillets and cauldrons. Interestingly, instead of a baking tin, Tudor cooks used a baking tray made from hardened pastry – rather alarmingly called a ‘coffin’!
But we can be very sure that from the time the first Original Maids of Honour opened in Richmond, the popular little tarts and other pies and pastries were made by hand and cooked using metal bakware in wood or coal-fired ovens. And so things remained until after World War II when, due to bomb damage, the bakery was rebuilt and new cleaner, more efficient and controllable gas-fired ovens were installed. But little else has changed. Our hand-baking processes are just the same as they were a hundred years ago but on a larger scale. Here’s how it’s done:
Hand baked with care
Everything at the Original Maids of Honour is produced ‘in house’. We do not ‘buy in’ and ‘sell on’. The ingredients are weighed and mixed by hand, the dough kneaded and pastry rolled in the traditional way. The cakes, breads and pastries are handmade, including the fillings for our hearty steak, chicken and salmon pies which we prepare from scratch ourselves. Even the sausage meat in our world-famous sausage rolls is bought as fresh cuts of meat from the butcher then minced, seasoned and mixed by hand before being wrapped in pastry blankets, cooked and served hot, flaky and delicious from the oven.
The whole process happens daily – every day, seven days a week – so our customers can be confident that everything they buy from us is as fresh, wholesome and delicious as can be.