Important Cakes – A Delicious History
It’s hard to imagine any fancy coffee shop, wedding, birthday party, going-away party, without cake. It took quite a lot of history and a lot of cakes, before we got the smorgasbord of cakes we have today.
Let’s start with the earliest recorded cakes in history, courtesy of the ancient Egyptians. These were more like bread, sweetened with honey with nuts and dried fruit.
Next the Ancient Romans brought us the tradition of wedding cake; they finished their weddings by breaking a cake of wheat or barley over the bride’s head as a symbol of good fortune. Then the couple will eat a few crumbs, and the guests will pick up some more crumbs. Never mind that it sounds like a terrible waste of perfectly good cake.
The actual word cake comes from the Norse word kaka, which entered the English language in the 13th century. Medieval European bakers made fruitcakes and gingerbread that was supposed to last for months.
Among these was carrot pudding, an ancestor of the carrot cake we have now. During the Middle Ages, sugar and other sweeteners were expensive or hard to find in the U.K., so they used carrots as a substitute.
Birthday cakes date back to the 1400s in Germany, where bakeries start selling one-layer cakes made with sweetened dough for children.
By the 17th century, you could get birthday cakes with several layers, icing (a boiled mixture of the finest sugar, egg whites, and flavoring) and decorations, but these were expensive so only the wealthy could afford them. Later, the western hemisphere also got currants and treacle from other countries.