A Home Cook’s Cake Primer

Cakes are one of the world’s most favorite desserts and have a rich history behind them. Cake, a proud descendant of bread, goes back nearly four hundred years. Today, cakes can be well thought-out to be a form of bread like food and are a sweet baked dessert. The new cakes, typically a mixture of butter, eggs, flour, and oil, is a western evolution. Many alternatives are accessible for the key ingredients, and an extensive variety of minor designs and components can be used. Round shapes symbolize the cyclical nature of life. Most notably, the sun and the moon. In today’s world, individuals traditionally serve cakes at birthdays, holidays, weddings, and other special events. The tradition of making cakes for ceremonial occasions has its basis in an ancient ritual.

Origin of Cakes

Cake dates back to prehistoric times. The cakes made in ancient days were very dissimilar from what we have today, they were more bread-like with honey as sweeteners; nuts and dried fruits were also added.  This logical derivation links bread too early cakes, as they were both once round leavened loaves.  Cakes, in the ancient times, had ties with the annual cycle, and other folks used cakes as sacrifices to their gods and spirits who used their powers at particular periods of the year. The earliest evidence of cakes and baking came from the Egyptians, who were excellent bakers. They were the first persons to use natural yeast to make cakes rise. According to food historians, the word cake is a derivation of ‘kaka,’ an Old Norse word and denotes a baked flour confection sweetened with sugar or honey. Medieval European bakers frequently made fruit cakes and gingerbread, and these could last for several months.

By the 18th century, the development of baking soda and the usage of eggs in cakes significantly fast-tracked baking and other cake making processes. They paved the way for further expansion in the discovery of innovative variations of cakes. This technology advance was primarily due to dependable ovens, industrial food molds, and the accessibility to major ingredients such as refined sugar. The foremost icings were typically a cooked mixture of the best obtainable egg whites, sugar, and occasional flavorings. Icing at this time was poured on the cake and then returned to the oven. After baking, the icing cooled rapidly to make a hard ice-like and glossy finishing. Many cakes designed during this period still had dried fruits inside. It was in the mid-19th century that we started having modern cakes as seen today. Cake of, today, are made with extra refined white flour and baking powder in place of yeast.

Types of Cakes

Today, there are over a thousand varieties of cakes available in the world today. These types come with its own culture, differences, and specialists. Currently, we can groups cakes into three basic categories:

  • Butter cakes
  • Sponge cakes, and
  • Yeatterst cakes

The distinctive feature amongst the three primary types is primarily the alterations in leavening.

Butter cakes

For Butter cakes, they are a contemporary standard recognized for its signatory constituents of butter or margarine, in combination with a leavening agent. They can also be well thought-out as a particular type of sponge cake. Butter cake got its roots from the English pound cake. A wider option for decorations and icing selections are available for butter cakes too.

Sponge cakes

Sponge cakes are very easy to make, but the right procedure and keen devotion to detail are quite essential.  Sponge cakes are also cakes that rise due to trapped air. Leaving agents are used to attain this increase, and they are typically light and natural. Common types in sponge cake include angel food, chiffon, and sponge. Angel food cakes make use of only egg whites, while sponge cakes have no shortening or oil but use egg whites and yolks. Chiffon cakes make use of oil, egg yolks and whites.

Yeast cakes

Yeast cakes are the oldest variety of cakes, and they are very more comparable to yeast bread. Their roots can be traced to ancient Egyptian times. Yeast cakes, are rather scarce to find in recent baking but were at a time in history the key technique in baking up until the 18th century.  While they may be rare, yeast cakes can still be found in the shape of yeast muffins or vegetarian cooking.

A note about Cheesecakes

Cheesecakes have more filling of cheese and cannot be considered true cakes in the strict sense of the word. The making of Cheesecakes requires very little flour addition, and their origins can be traced to the period of the ancient Greeks. White cake is, white, by the omission of the egg yolk. They make use of only egg whites, multi-purpose flour, and are easily modified. Yellow cake, on the other hand, is colored by the addition of the egg yolks as a constituent, uses pastry flour, and needs no extra flavors.


These days, cakes find a central place in our lives, principally in anniversaries, birthdays and weddings. There are numerous varieties available today, and you can easily find a cake style or design that fits perfectly into any occasion or event in your lifestyle. With many services offered, you can also get something like a midnight cake delivery in situations likes birthdays. With the arrival and continuous improvement of modern technological equipment and tools used in cooking and baking cakes, the process of cake baking and making have progressed to advanced levels, all within reach of professionals and even beginners!

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