Some people love it. Other people hate it. While not one of those hard hit-hitting or controversial topics such as death, religion, or an adult relationship, the gathering and preparation of food has always been a huge part of human life. It’s probably no coincidence then, that many songs about baking seem to be written with babies or other young children in mind. Several of the lyrics to these baking songs also seem to incorporate expressions of love or affection, two common associations for people to have with the preparation or presentation of food.
“Sing a Song of Sixpence” is an old English nursery rhyme which may have historical roots as far back as the 18th Century. The song tells the story of 24 blackbirds which are placed in a pie to amuse a king, as well as the resulting mischief it causes. The two first verses, which are commonly the only ones known, begin as, “Sing a song of sixpence, a pocket full of rye! Four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie! When the pie was opened, the birds began to sing. Wasn’t that a dainty dish to set before a king?” Verse Two is “The King was in the counting house, counting out his money. The Queen was in the parlor, eating bread and honey. The maid was in the garden, hanging up the clothes, when down came a blackbird and pecked off her nose!” The song has been recorded by many artists, including Julian Laxton and The C.R.S. Players.
“Pat-A-Cake”, sometimes also called “Patty Cake” or “Paddy-Cake”, is another well-known nursery rhyme. This song-rhyme has also evolved into a clapping game, the directions for which can be found here. Though perhaps more commonly recited, the piece has been set to music with versions by Justin Timberbake. Done Again, and The Countdown Kids. Though the lyrics to this piece can vary a bit, the rhyme as it’s most popularly known is, “Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man! Bake me a cake as fast as you can! Roll it, and pat it, and mark it with a B! Then, throw it in the oven for Baby and me!” Another version replaces the last two lines with “Roll it up, roll it up, throw it in a pan! Patty cake, patty cake,baker’s man!”
“Baby, Don’t You Cry” is an original song written for the 2007 movie, Waitress, and performed by Keri Russell. Since the lyrics to the song are obviously still copyrighted, it is impossible to reproduce the full version here. However, the song begins with a mother’s plea to a child: “Baby, don’t you cry! I’m gonna bake a pie, gonna bake a pie with a heart in the middle!” Though only the first verse is sung in the movie, the lyrics were originally meant to be repetitious, featuring such pie filings as strawberry, raspberry, and banana cream. Unfortunately, the complete soundtrack to Waitress has never been officially released.
“If I Knew You Were Coming, I’d Have Baked a Cake” was first released in 1950. The break-out version was recorded by Eileen Barton, an American stage and nightclub singer. The song may have been influenced by the simpler joys and more difficult challenges of the Great Depression, which occurred during some of the songwriters’ early years, or possibly by World War II in the 1940s, during which sugar was rationed. During either of these time periods, the act of baking a cake would usually have been perceived as more celebratory and special than it is today.
Most or all of the songs mentioned in this article are available for download on Itunes or through Amazon.com. Other songs which do not include baking but mention baked goods are “Simple Simon”, the original theme song to Strawberry Shortcake, and “Do You Know the Muffin Man?”.