The story of cake in India takes off in Thalassery.
In the 19th century, Baputti, a member of Mambally family, had been to Burma, where he picked up his early lessons on biscuit making. After a couple of years, he returned to his home town. In the year 1880, Baputti Mambilly started his MAMBILLY ROYAL BISCUIT FACTORY at Thalassery which served almost 40 different varieties of biscuits, rusks, breads and buns. The Britishers were their chief patrons. In fact, the bread dough was made by crushing wheat in crude stone grinders and using local toddy for fermenting the dough, until the Britishers imported yeast into the country. As the story goes, in the December of 1883, a British planter, Mr. Brown, who owned a large cinnamon plantation asked Baputti Mambilly to bake him a Christmas cake and shared the recipe with him (Some say Baputti smelled out the ingredients!). The cake turned out to be better than what Mr. Brown had expected. And the rest, as they say, is history. In its hay days the bakery also used to export their handmade delicacies to Egypt, Mesopotamia and Myanmar. From then on, bakeries spread all over Kerala and diversified in their products. Some say there are close to 50,000 bakeries in Kerala alone. And the chances are high that your favourite bakery in town is run by Malayalees!
IN january 2012, the 129th anniversary celebrations of the first bakery in Thalassery was celebrated by baking a mammoth 350 ft-1,200 kg cake! It was displayed in the municiapal cricket grounds (where, if you remember, cricket was first played in India).