Anyone who watched the opening ceremony of the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow on 23 July 2014 was left in no doubt whatsoever that the host nation was Scotland! I do wonder, however, what people from overseas made of the dancing tea cakes, while Scots all over the world were salivating at the very thought of these old favourites. Did you even get the reference?
I went to bed that night dreaming of unwrapping the familiar red and silver wrapping, cracking the crisp chocolate coating and diving head first into the marshmallow loveliness – would that the local supermarkets could stock the giant versions shown last night…
So, what are these delicacies? They are not the fruited bread buns beloved by our neighbours to the south and generally served toasted with lashings of slowly melting butter; nor are they the coconut sweeties sold by the ounce. No, these are a perfect combination of a biscuit base, topped with smooth marshmallow and covered with a smooth milk chocolate. Please note, there is no jam in tea cakes and the biscuit is not chocolate flavoured despite what some rival brands may think!
Although several companies make tea cakes, the most famous, and most popular here are made by Tunnock’s. The company started off in 1890 as a small bakery in Uddingston, just south of Glasgow – in fact, the shop and the tearooms above it are still there today. (Unusually, the company is still owned by the Tunnock Family – as proudly boasted on every box of tea cakes.) In the 1950s they started to make the three things for which they are best known: the tea cake, the squidgy, gooey snowball and the sweet, chewy caramel wafer – I love them all:)
I have to confess that I have never made them but watched 2013’s contestants in The Great British Bake Off get in a terrible mess trying to bake a batch following Paul Hollywood’s recipe. I haven’t laughed so much for ages and it put me right off having a go myself. Why bother when I can pop down to the local shop and buy a box? If you feel tempted to try your hand, please do let me know how you get on and send me a pic or two.
The dancing tea cakes have become the most iconic section of the Opening Ceremony, so here is a wee roundup of what’s been going on:
Sales of these yummy treats have gone through the roof. Up by 62% within days of the ceremony:)
One of the dancers could lose her job after her boss saw her playing a tea cake on telly while she was off work sick – oopsies!
One of the costumes was put up for auction to raise money for charity – the closing bid was £1,000 exactly ($1688.75)!