Baking for medieval joust is sweet experience for sisters

Two sisters who left behind their old careers to pursue their love of baking, are showcasing their historic recipes at this year's Loxwood Joust.

Wednesday, 20th July 2016, 12:34 pm
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 1:44 am
Those Baking Girls, sisters Gill and Lesley Tapson

Lesley Tapson, who worked as a barrister, and Gill Tapson, who worked as a teacher of the deaf, have both always loved cooking.

Now, working from their home in Crossbush Lane, Arundel, they create home madde and hand finished cakes, bakes and savouries as Those Baker Girls.

Lesley said: “Our Mum was a fab baker and she always encouraged us to help her when we were young.

“Our favourite memento of Mum is her box of cards with recipes written by her. Some of those recipes are 100 years old and were passed to her from her mother. They still taste delicious.

“We aren’t food historians but have always had an interest in old recipes and how well they stand up to scrutiny today.

“Whilst visiting a friend, he served up a Medieval Tart of Brie which was absolutely delicious and that was the catalyst for looking further back in time.

“We have found some delicious recipes dating as far back as the fourteenth century. At a recent event commemorating WW1 we also made cakes from that era. That said, we also make cakes and tarts from the 21st century and have some cracking gluten free, dairy free and sugar free recipes.”

The sisters said they both enjoyed their former careers, but worked very long hours and wanted a better work/life balance.

“We had spoken over the years about changing career and baking for a living, decided that ‘we’re only here once’ and that we would regret it if we didn’t at least have a go,” Lesley said.

“We haven’t regretted the decision to change careers for a second. Whilst it is hard work it is also great fun and we thoroughly enjoy ourselves.

“As sisters and work colleagues we get along very well. We sell our cakes and tarts at markets and events as well as creating bespoke celebration cakes.

“Gill has a PME Masters in sugar craft and makes stunning sugar flowers, among other things. Customers often ask us how many other people work with us and are quite surprised when we say we bake everything ourselves.”

Those Baker Girls were delighted when asked to be part of the Loxwood Joust, the hugely popular Medieval family festival, which will this year be held on two weekends, August 6&7 and 13&14.

Lesley said: “The enthusiasm and attention to detail of Danny and Maurice, the organisers, is very infectious and we are excited to be joining in.

“Looking into historic recipes is fascinating: who knew, for example, that back in medieval times a pastry case was called a ‘coffyn’ and was not supposed to be eaten or that Brie has been around since the eighth century and its appearance on an English table in medieval times was perceived to be a sign of wealth? Or that garlic was eaten by Greek and Roman soldiers before going into battle to give them courage?

“The tarts for the Loxwood Joust include our version of the Medieval Tart of Brie which first excited our interest in medieval cookery; a Sweet Garlic and Herb Tart, which we’ll be selling at the Joust as the ‘Loxwood Joust Tart’; ‘Sambocade’, which is a fourteenth century recipe using elderflowers to flavour it and an Apple Tart, one of the ingredients of which is the wonderful spice, Grains of Paradise. It was said by spice traders, as part of their efforts to keep prices high, to grow only in the Garden of Eden.

“We are really looking forward to the Loxwood Joust experience and to immersing ourselves in the fifteenth century for a while.”