British Raj-style Christmas cakes in Kolkata again

Kolkata, Dec 24 : Promising a slice of the British Raj through its traditional plum and fruit cakes, cookies and assorted chocolates, the revamped iconic Bakery at the Lalit Great Eastern was thrown open to the public Tuesday on Christmas Eve.

A serpentine queue of Kolkatans was seen in front of the bakery throughout the day as the items flew off the shelves thick and fast.

It was nostalgia time for the denizens, who have been missing the traditional Christmas offerings of the bakery for the last eight years when the hotel was closed.

The more than 180-year-old legendary British bakery was set up by David Wilson, a confectioner from Herefordshire.

Known for offering quintessential British baked goods to connoisseurs through the 1830s, the establishment was a roaring success.

This prompted Wilson to extend the unit and open a full-fledged hotel in 1840, called the Auckland Hotel. It later became the Great Eastern Hotel and was relaunched as the Lalit Great Eastern last month.

The bakery has been refurbished in keeping with the times. However, tokens of Wilson's dream have been kept intact.

"The striking point of the bakery is the oven which is older than the hotel itself. It is the original oven that was used in the 1830s. Though it's not functional anymore, we have kept the oven for display," a spokesperson of the hotel told IANS.

Further, an entire wall from the 1830s has been left untouched. Its bricks, cement and other elements are a gentle reminder of the British legacy in Kolkata.

The original bakery operated as a take-away unit, whereas in its new avatar, it is part restaurant, part take-away.

"Though the cooking technology used was different, we have tried to keep the recipes as close to the originals as possible," the spokesperson said.

--IANS (Posted on 24-12-2013)

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