The History of Cakes
By Qing Hua
Cake is a dessert that nearly everyone has enjoyed at some point during their life. As a child, getting a slice of chocolate cake from one's parents was more like a gift from the gods. Cake recipes have changed quite a bit over time, but the pleasure they give has stayed intact over the years. Some might say that making a great cake relies on having a great cake recipe, however it is also important to have an understanding of the history and where cake actually comes from. History does not taste quite as good as a fresh chocolate cake, but it is still quite interesting to discover where cake recipes actually came from.
The actual word for cake dates back many centuries ago to the 1200s where European bakers would mix fruits and bread. These "cakes" could stay intact for several months, thus providing food for the village that could be saved without the need for any form of modern refrigeration. It wasn't until much later into the 17th century that the more modern form of the cake came about.
Still in Europe, advances in technology allowed for the first cake with icing to be produced. This came about as the key ingredient of sugar became more and more refined. Likewise, ovens became more reliable, giving bakers more control over what they were actually making. The icing itself was created using the sugar as well as egg whites which was poured onto the cake as it was baking. Once removed from the oven, it would harden quickly, giving the appearance of what we know today as an iced or glazed frosting.
At this time, bread and cake recipes were still being used almost interchangeably, as early cakes were more simply flour based sweets. On the other hand, bread was also flour based, but lacked the sweetening element of the cake. Ancient people would often bake this sweetened flour on a hot stone. In the modern world, this might take shape more in the form of what we call a cookie or even a biscuit.
Even still, many years ago, the first cakes were beginning to take shape. Cakes themselves were often baked for special occasions as the ingredients that were needed were much more expensive than for baking simple bread. In turn, the wealthy people in society were more likely to frequently consume it than the poor. This is where Marie Antoinette's famous line of "let them eat cake" is thought to have originated as the princess had no idea of the actual living conditions of her people.
During the 19th century, the ingredients became more inexpensive allowing for the poor to have their chance to experience cake at a higher rate. It also gave rise to new ingredients being experimented with as people sought cheaper ways to produce a cake.
In modern society, a cake recipe can be found on thousands of websites across the internet as well as on the cake mix box itself. Ancient people surly never would have imagined that today anyone could make a cake using simple ingredients that mostly come in a single box. It is true that Cake recipes have changed for the better and can thankfully be enjoyed by almost everyone today.
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