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history cakes and decorating


Do you know that your favourite dessert, “Cake” has a long tradition? Today, cakes are readily available anywhere in the world. As soon as the urge to eat one hits you, you can head to your nearest bakery to satisfy your whim or bake one right in your kitchen within half an hour. However, centuries ago it wasn’t easy to bake a cake, and only the wealthy could afford it.

Let’s take a peep back in time and trace the history of this fan-favourite dessert, over the years.

Origin of the word Cake

The word cake can be traced to back to a long time and is derived from the Old Norse word, “Kaka” of the Viking era. It denotes a baked confectionery made with flour and sweetened with honey or sugar. It usually had eggs, but sometimes milk and fat were also used. During the early history of this sweet dish, there was no distinct difference between biscuits, bread, buns and cakes.

Land of Cakes

The Land of Cakes

Europe is undoubtedly the birthplace of cakes. Later on, this popular delicacy spread to other regions like North America and the colonies India, Australia, etc. that were influenced by European and British cultures. In fact, no other language in the world has a word that means the same thing as the English word, “Cake”.

The French words “Gateau” and “Torte” though often mistakenly used instead of cake don’t denote the same. These delicacies had varying proportions of eggs, butter and chocolate making them “Pastries” rather than “Cakes”.

Cakes in History

Cakes in History

Cakes go a long way back. Excavations at a 17th-century Swiss lake village found out crude cakes that were made from crushed grains. Though these cakes were similar in appearance and texture to the modern day biscuits, we can’t but agree that cakes were present centuries ago.

Ancient Egyptian culture was known for their prowess in baking and made several different flavours of bread. Greeks have something akin to cheesecakes and Romans made fruitcakes. These cakes, later on, made their way into medieval England. The British poet Chaucer mentions of large cakes made with eggs, flour, spice, honey and cream in his works.

Modern Baking

The Modern Era of Baking Cakes

Cake moulds like pans and hoops made their first appearance in the middle of the 17th century. At that period, cakes were often eaten with tea or sweet wine. It became a practice to display elaborately made cakes at large banquets, weddings and other events. It’s here where the practice of cake decorating began to take form.

Technology usage in cake baking

Technology comes to the aid of Bakers

It was during the beginning of the 19th century, that technology was used to assist cooks. Bicarbonate of soda aka baking powder was first used in 1840. Till then, yeast was used as the primary leavening agent in cakes. With baking powder, bakers had more control of the rising of the cakes with less effort. Similarly, ovens that had temperature settings rescued many bakers from burning their precious, labour intensive cakes.

Art of cake decoration

Enter the Art of Cake Decorating

Cake decorating is a culinary art that has a long history. During the first few centuries of its existence, cakes mere made plain. However, with the increase in popularity of the dish and its presence in many special occasions, cakes began to be decorated to look exquisite and pretty. Let’s trace the roots of this culinary art.

Cake Decorating – Tracing its Roots in History

Compared to other forms of cooking, cake decorating is comparatively newer. The first decorated cakes made their appearance in the middle of the 17th century. This was the time when cake pans were beginning to be used in kitchens all over North-eastern Europe. Elaborately decorated cakes were displayed in the wedding banquets of the wealthiest aristocrats. However, these cakes were mostly used as ornamental pieces.

Cake Decorating increased in popularity during the mid-19th century

The history of cake decorating, as we know it today, can be traced back to the mid-19th century. This was the time when the French began to serve cakes as a separate course in meals and decorated desserts began to make their appearance at tables all over Europe.

The Role of Technology

With the introduction of temperature-controlled ovens and the invention of baking powder, cakes took on a more robust and sturdy form, making them suitable to be decorated. Also, cake baking became easier and convenient. During this era, cakes were usually decorated using the old English style that consisted of dimensional over-piping. Cakes were elaborately decorated with intricate piping patterns and borders.

Usher in the Wilton Method during the early 20th century

It was in 1929 that Wilton began to advertise for cake decorating classes for the first time. The classes were aimed at chefs, gourmands and caterers and were a huge success. Later in 1947, Wilton produced their line of cake decorating tools and kits to help home bakers.

The Bible of Cake Decorating

After a few years since the beginning of the Wilton cake decorating classes, Joseph Lambeth, a famous cake artist, popularised a style of ornate decorating in his book, “The Lambeth Method of Cake Decoration and Practical Pastries” that was published in 1934.

This piping method was based on the old English tradition of “Overpiping”. It’s still considered one of the most lavish and challenging piping techniques even now. The book contained step-by-step pictures, instructions, drawings and photographs that helped readers master the Lambeth art of piping.

Evolution of cake decoration

The Evolution of Modern Cake Decorating

Today, cake decorating has reached staggering heights and has come a long way since the humble beginnings centuries back. Fondants, edible glitter, sprinkles, royal icing, buttercream, ganache, fruits and fillings, the options are unlimited for the modern baker.

Decorating cakes is no more an extra frill. It has become an indispensable part of cakes. With the rise in popularity of TV shows like “Cake Boss”, “Ultimate Cake Off” and several others, cake decorating is now a religion. From gravity defying cakes to hand painted watercolour cakes, glossy cakes that reflect, contemporary bakers are pushing the boundaries of cake decorating.

Kudos to the imagination and effort, and let’s keep creating stunning cakes. What’s your favourite cake decorating technique?

GurgaonBakers is taking the legacy forward by making amazing cakes fulfilling the appetizing needs of the most cherished customers we have. We just don’t make cake, we also share equally important information related to the domain time to time, articles are populated in Insight section. Subscribe your mail ID and get the feed from our side on regular basis. You can get in touch with us at or call us at 989-9988-185.



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