Translating the Bake Off!

It’s Bake Off season, and that means it’s time to be bamboozled with technical culinary terms, many of them in a foreign tongue. We’re intrigued by some of the weird and wonderful language that comes out of The Great British Bake Off – no, we don’t mean when bakers accidentally drop their cakes on the floor! – and we wanted to share our favourite baking-related vocabulary…

Biscuit

Coming from French, this literally translates as ‘twice cooked’, i.e. harder than a cake.

Chocolate chip cookies on linen napkin wooden table.

Marmite

Beware, it’s a false friend: the French meaning is a large cooking pot, which actually features on the Marmite logo.

Ganache

No prizes for guessing that this word comes from French too, but we’d be genuinely impressed if you could tell us the literal meaning: a jaw. We’re not sure what the connection is – can anyone tell us?
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Cornetto

When you’re in Italy and in the mood for a delicious gelato, make sure not to slip into O Sole Mio mode and order a cornetto, as this will actually get you a croissant.

croissant

Hors d’oeuvre

We all know this phrase, but did you know it’s so called because it literally translates to ‘outside of the work’ – in other words, an extra to the meal?

Chef

You may have heard this word in German, but did you know that there it means a ‘boss’, not a ‘cook’?

 

Asian female cooking with magic

Cuisine

Confusingly, in French this can mean both ‘cooking’ and ‘kitchen’: you make your cuisine in the cuisine.

Crème anglaise

Contestants are forever whipping up a quick crème anglaise in the Bake Off and it sounds ever so grand, but actually it just means custard – sorry for the anti-climax. To add insult to injury, anglaise (or English) is used in French to indicate a particularly plain style. Boo!

Orange Creme Brulee

Crème pâtissière

Another Bake Off classic, sounding even more chic, but I’m afraid this also just means custard (albeit a thicker version of the anglaise).

Trifle

Far and away my favourite word in Italian, which bizarrely translates our beloved national pudding into ‘la zuppa inglese’ – English soup.

Trifle cake

Bain-marie

– It’s a little off-putting to find that this French term comes from the Latin meaning ‘Mary’s bath’ – and we don’t mean Mary Berry! It’s actually named after the alchemist Maria Prophetissima, who invented it.

Let us know your favourite linguistically interesting baking terms. Meanwhile… Baaake!

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