Office Cake Culture Lives On in Britain Despite Health Warning

Vin Shahrestani wrote . . . . . . . . .

When Katie Mulligan baked a beetroot cake for her colleagues at a London advertising agency, she was focused on getting the recipe right rather than whether it was acceptable to bring treats into the office.

But office cake culture has recently been challenged by the head of Britain’s food regulator, Susan Jebb, who grabbed headlines last month by comparing it to passive smoking.

“I just don’t think there’s a real equivalence there,” Mulligan, 30, said at her north London home. “With cakes, it’s up to you whether you eat it.”

With a passion to bake and cook, Mulligan says her cakes help colleagues beat the afternoon slump – and beetroot is a relatively healthy option.

Jebb, however, believes cakes in the office are an example of a society that is promoting unhealthy food choices.

“If nobody brought in cakes into the office, I would not eat cakes in the day,” Jebb told The Times newspaper.

“But because people do bring cakes in, I eat them. Now, OK, I have made a choice, but people were making a choice to go into a smoky pub.”

Jebb, who was not speaking on behalf of the Food Standards Agency, made the comment days after parliament published a report that said 25.9% of adults in England were obese and a further 37.9% were overweight, citing a 2021 survey.

The United States ranked highest in the world for obesity levels with 43%, the report added citing OECD Health Statistics, while Britain as a whole, not just England, was at 28%.

The trend in the UK is “only going to get worse,” said Katharine Jenner, director of Obesity Health Alliance, a coalition of over 40 organisations that tackle obesity by influencing government policy.

Obesity is costing Britain’s National Health Service and the wider society something like 60 billion pounds ($72.63 billion) a year, she said.

The country needs to change its broader food culture and soon.

“I reckon we’re about in the (19)60s’ equivalent of sugar and diet-related ill health compared to smoking. So we’ve got a long way to go,” she said.

At Mulligan’s office, enjoying the beetroot cake and its edible flower garnishes, while striking up conversations, provides a welcome break for her colleagues and lightens up office life.

“It helps build friendships. It creates a really lovely atmosphere,” said advertising strategist Bish Morgan, 26.

“As long as people are sensible and strike the right balance then yeah, I still think it’s a lovely thing to do in the office.”

Source: Reuters


Spring Cherry Blossom Afternoon Tea of Nina Patisserie in Hong Kong

The price is HK$468 for 2 persons.

The Café





New Ultrasound Method Could Lead to Easier Disease Diagnosis

A new ultrasound method that can measure the level of tension in human tissue for the first time – a key indicator of disease – has been developed by researchers from the University of Sheffield.

The breakthrough, made by Dr Artur Gower from the University’s Department of Mechanical Engineering, together with researchers from Harvard, Tsinghua University, and the University of Galway, could be used to build new ultrasound machines that are able to better diagnose abnormal tissue, scarring, and cancer.

Ultrasounds use sound waves to create images of organs inside the human body. However, the images produced by the current techniques used in healthcare aren’t usually enough to diagnose whether tissues are abnormal. To improve diagnosis, the researchers developed a way to measure forces such as tension by using an ultrasound machine. Tension is generated in all living tissue, so measuring it can indicate whether tissue is functioning properly or if it’s affected by disease.

The researchers harnessed a technique from a rail project at the University of Sheffield, which uses sound waves to measure tension along railway lines. The technique, used both for rail and medical ultrasound, relies on a simple principle: the greater the tension, the faster sound waves propagate. Using this principle, the researchers developed a method that sends two sound waves in different directions. The tension is then related to the speed of the waves by using mathematical theories developed by the researchers.

Previous ultrasound methods have struggled to show the difference between stiff tissue or tissue under tension. The developed technique is the first capable of measuring tension for any type of soft tissue, and without knowing anything about it. In a new paper, published in the journal Science Advances, the researchers describe the new method and demonstrate how they used it to measure tension inside a muscle.

Dr Artur Gower, Lecturer in Dynamics at the University of Sheffield, said: “When you go to the hospital, a doctor might use an ultrasound device to create an image of an organ, such as your liver, or another part of your body, such as the gut, to help them explore what the cause of a problem might be. One of the limitations of ultrasounds used in healthcare now is that the image alone is not enough to diagnose whether any of your tissues are abnormal.

“What we’ve done in our research is develop a new way of using ultrasound to measure the level of tension in tissue. This level of detail can tell us whether tissues are abnormal or if they are affected by scarring or disease. This technique is the first time that ultrasound can be used to measure forces inside tissue, and it could now be used to build new ultrasound machines capable of diagnosing abnormal tissue and disease earlier.”

Source: The University of Sheffield





Bread Biscuits with Soft-boiled Eggs


2 cups plain/all purpose flour
2-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
l/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons cold lard (or vegetable shortening), cubed, plus extra, melted, to glaze
3/4 cup buttermilk, (or sour milk, or 50% plain yogurt and 50% whole milk)
10 soft-boiled eggs


  1. Preheat the oven to 230°C (450°F).
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Add the lard (or vegetable shortening) and gradually rub between fingertips to the consistency of fine breadcrumbs.
  3. Add the buttermilk (or sour milk, or yogurt-milk) and mix quickly with a fork until the mixture is just blended.
  4. Pull the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly just to incorporate all the ingredients.
  5. Gently roll out to a thickness of 2 inches. Stamp out rounds with the cookie cutter, dipping the cutter in flour between each cut and making sure not to twist the cutter when you push it in or pull it out. Re-roll the off-cuts of dough and stamp out more rounds.
  6. Arrange the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet and glaze the tops with melted lard (or vegetable shortening) for an even more savoury flavour.
  7. Bake in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until golden on the outside and fluffy and soft on the inside. Remove from the oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  8. Serve 2-3 biscuits with each egg.

Makes 30 biscuits.

Source: 100 Ways with Eggs

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