Where Did Cake Originate?
Whether you enjoy a sweet party cake with many layers of sponge and lashings of buttercream or a dense fruit cake topped with cheese and butter, we’re willing to bet that there’s a sweet treat that gets your taste buds tingling. So, how about finding out how your favourite bakes came to be?!
Turns out we have the ancient Egyptians to thank for the very first cakes. The Egyptians used to bake flat breads and cook them on a hot stone. At first, the breads didn’t rise, but after the Egyptians developed the art of using natural yeast in their baking, they had lift off (literally!) and made the very first risen cakes.
It’s doubtful that we’d recognise the Egyptians’ baking as cakes; they were still pretty coarse even though they’d risen. Cakes as we know them stem from Ancient Greece, where they baked circular cakes and breads to represent the moon, using honey to sweeten them. Their baked offerings were then topped with candles to symbolise moonlight and pay homage to Artemis, goddess of all things lunar. It was also thought that the smoke from the candles would carry their prayers up to the Gods. We can see how the tradition translates to today – it just wouldn’t be a birthday party without candles on the cake!
Greece can’t take the whole biscuit on this one – we have to give some credit to 15th century Germany. It was here that the first modern day birthday party was held with each candle representing a year of the child’s age. The Germans liked to add an extra candle to symbolise that they hoped the child would live one more year. Germany also invented the art of wish-making at birthday parties. Children were encouraged to make a wish as they blew out the candles – one of our favourite parts of partying!
Jump ahead to the sixteenth century and the Italians had experimented some more, adding whipped eggs to the battery mix. This created a lighter cake with a soft, squidgy texture, however, it could be time consuming and it was tricky to guarantee the results (not to mention all the elbow grease involved!).
By the mid-1800s, baking powder had arrived and was taking the cake scene by storm. Bicarbonate of soda make it super easy to bake a light and airy sponge…every time!
Moving on to the 1930s where P. Duff and Sons, a molasses company from Pittsburgh, patented the first cake mix after combining dehydrated molasses with dehydrated flour, sugar and eggs. America was in the middle of The Great Depression; this solution meant the company could re-purpose their surplus molasses. As well as solving the company’s molasses problem, depression-era families were looking for a straightforward way to make cakes that involved minimal spending.
The popularity of cake mixes soared with the end of World War II. Flour companies had previously been busy creating dry mixes for their troops abroad, but the end of the war meant they could concentrate on making products to sell to consumers.
If you’re anything like us, you’re probably far more interested in eating cake than reading about it, so dust off that apron and get mixing. Or, make life easier for yourself and head to frodeli.com!