I’m about to reveal the secret ingredient that will make every cake taste better. It works even if you aren’t the person who baked it. Even if it resulted from a packet mix, an ill-advised experiment or a six-year-old’s messy afternoon; from a hand-whipped, double-choc, mocha sponge to a gluten-free, paleo friend of the villi, you can make any cake more delicious.
The secret is candles. A study published in Psychological Sciences in 2013 concluded that the ritual of making a wish, singing and blowing out candles has a significant impact on how the taste of cake is perceived. In short, rituals make food taste better.
I’m a fan of traditions and rituals. Not so much the televised self-important kind, but the smaller ones, the ones that knit up the fabric of our lives and mark the seasons and staging posts. They recognise and build connections between people and it warms my cockles that so many of you have lit up birthdays with my candles. They were The Candle Kitchen’s best-selling product last year, so thank you.
The candles in the study were made from paraffin wax, mass-produced in large machinery and shipped from China to the US. If they can make a cake taste better then just imagine what hand-dipped cake candles, made from beeswax molten with renewable energy, could do.
Just one more thing, the study said that to get the full benefit you really need to take part yourself. So if you’re not blowing and wishing then sing. Or if singing doesn’t bring you joy, do a little dance or something, find a way to join in and get everyone else to join in too. You’ll be rewarded with fabulously tasting cake.