Christmas baking

'Tis the season to be baking ... falalalalaaa ... lalalala!

There's something special about Christmas time - the fairy lights brighten the early dark nights, there's happiness in the air as families and friends come together. Everywhere the atmosphere is filled with the smell of roast chestnuts, mulled wine, cakes and cookies with their tantalising aromas of cinnamon, vanilla and cloves.

These smells often remind us of Christmas, and when they come together it feels like something magical and captivating, something worth protecting. It's of course natural to want to protect something you've created, with or without a patent system. Considering how much of an asset recipes are to restaurants, chefs, or any food industry stakeholder, it makes sense to protect them somehow. This got us thinking - what if we were to look for the earliest IP right for a Christmas baking recipe?

Digging as deep as we could, we found references to patent rights for recipes dating back to around 500 BCE - inventors in the city of Sybaris had exclusive rights to their recipe for a year. Not only is this one of the earliest examples we could find of IP rights being used to protect recipes, it's also one of the first ever references to IP rights in general. This is certainly a long time ago, and shows that protecting ideas, inventions and other intellectual creations was already part of our instinct long before modern patent systems emerged. 

Recipes can indeed be considered as patentable subject matter and subject to compositions, methods and processes. Here we look at just a few unique seasonal culinary delights from around the world. Perhaps you'll be inspired to bake them yourself this Christmas!

Sweden and Norway - rosettes 

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These deep-fried and crispy delicacies are traditionally served at Christmas in Scandinavia. Dipping them in caster or icing sugar brings out the beautiful baking mould patterns. We found some of these moulds in Espacenet, under Human necessities > Kitchen equipment (classification term A47J). 

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Figure 1: example of a mould found in Espacenet (US4442604A)

Ukraine - khrustyky

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Or how about khrustyky? These crisp, dainty pastries dusted with icing sugar are traditionally served in Ukraine as part of the Christmas Eve twelve-dish feast (the dishes symbolising the twelve apostles). They're a yummy traditional treat, and easy to make with just four main ingredients: eggs, sugar, flour and whipping cream.  

Japan - kurisumasu keki (Japanese Christmas cake) 

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Although Christmas is not celebrated officially in Japan, it's a must to have Christmas cake or "kurisumasu keki" (we love the name!) on 25 December. Light and spongy with a whippedcream filling and frosting, it's normally topped off with strawberries and some jolly Christmas decorations - we discovered a rather portly Father Christmas in Espacenet that would go perfectly. 

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Figure 2: Christmas cake decoration found in Espacenet (JP2017114066A

Portugal - filhoses  

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Our Portuguese colleagues absolutely insist that you cannot celebrate Christmas in Portugal without these delicious donut-like treats. They are quite easy to make - you need flour, eggs, milk and oil (and traditionally a drop of aguardente) for the dough, which you fry and then coat with sugar and cinnamon.  

For those watching their waistlines, we found a method in Espacenet to make them using less fat. Filhoses were even taken as an example. 

Spain – carbón de reyes

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Different nations have different ways of motivating their children to be good, especially at Christmas. You've heard the lyric "He knows if you've been bad or good ...".  In Spain, children are presented with "coal" instead of Christmas presents if they've been bad ... and there's a corresponding recipe. Don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds - the coal is sugar that's been dyed black, baked, and bashed into chunks. The children probably wouldn't mind having a whole sack to themselves.

But all this begs the question: what do parents get if they've been bad? 

Happy baking and Season's Greetings to all our readers!
Your Patent Knowledge News team 

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