The History of Cake Making

Sharon Cassidy DT418/3 The History of Cake Making Lecturer: Mary Kavanagh Introduction The purpose of this essay is to give a brief history of cake. Firstly this essay will begin with the manifestations of the first ‘cakes’ in Egyptian times and it’s evolvement throughout emerging civilisations and their contribution to the notion of cakes as we know them today. Influences such as colonisations, global trading and immigration will also be discussed to illustrate how the movement of ingredients and methods contributed to the fusion of culinary knowledge.

This report will also acknowledge advancements in technology to aid both the domestic and commercial baker, and how consumer trends have changed dramatically throughout history. Origin According to Humble(2010) evidence from archaeological digs from our Neolithic ancestors have shown that cakes in some form or other were being made then, although these early endeavours are a far cry from our perception of what a cake is today. These ancient cakes would have been would have been made from little more than crushed grains , mixed with water and made into rounds and baked on a hot stone.

They would have been very crude and flat as leavening agents had not yet been discovered; in fact the word cake is also used to describe something that is flat and compacted such as a cake of soap. Humble (2010) also writes that these so called cakes would have been the precursor to the oatcakes we have today but are now categorised as a biscuit. Castella(2010) writes that very little is known about the culinary experiences of these times as there are not much written about food prior to the eighteenth century, however some records exist in the form of tomb drawings, tax records, Greek plays and shipping and military records.

It is thought that around 5,000 B. C. the Egyptians accidentally discovered how to make leavened bread. There are some theories surrounding this discovery such as a mixture of flour and water were left outside for some time and “caught” natural yeast from the air causing bubbles of gas to appear in the mixture which was then used in the making of some bread , or some liquid that was being used to make beer was also used in the making of bread, either scenarios would have resulted in a risen or leavened bread that must have been a huge improvement on the hard and tough bread that had been previously eaten.

The Egyptians are credited with sweetening these breads with honey commencing the evolvement of the cake(www. theoldfoodie. com) . The cakes began to be associated with religious ceremonies of which there are tomb paintings showing such scenes involving breads/cakes of various shapes such as rings, fish, crescents and birds being offered to the Gods. The Greeks were very creative with their ‘cakes’ by advancing on the Egyptians innovations by adding fruits like dates and figs and nuts such as pistachio and pine nuts . The Greeks are also being attributed with the invention of cheesecakes which were made with goat’s milk.

The Greeks were great innovators when it came to cake making and in fact baking became a trained profession with the emergence of a strict baker’s guild (Castella, 2010) which lasted for several centuries. During the rise of the Roman Empire the Roman’s took what the Greeks had started with baking and improved it further bringing their new techniques with them on military campaigns and thus spreading new methods across Europe, they in turn also collected new ideas, ingredients and tools with which they combined to invent new recipes and formulas.

Medieval to Modern Cake Making The beginning of the Medieval period saw an increase in population and the emergence of cities and towns. There was now a greater demand for food and crops were now grown in surplus to supply workers in the towns. Flandrin and Montanari(1999) write that this gave way to markets being set up in the main thoroughfare of towns and crafts such as bread making were developed on a larger scale.

As a majority people no longer had land themselves to produce their own food they had to rely on the markets for their food supply. One of the most important ingredient discoveries made in relation to baking was sugar. Although it originated in New Guinea it was the Indians who perfected the methods of processing the sugar cane which the Arab traders brought back to the Middle East. Due to explorers and crusades a huge array of new exotic lavours were being brought back to Europe such as spices, fruits nuts and of course sugar. An example of this was Gingerbread; a spicy sweet cake became enormously popular during the Middle Ages which the crusaders brought back with them. Sugar was highly valued and was thought of a medicinal ingredient during this era and was frequently prescribed by doctors in the form of sweetened cakes to patients to heal many ailments. It was however only available to the upper classes while everyone else still used honey as a sweetener.

As sugar became more popular some religious figures deemed it to be evil and was banned however Thomas Aquinas declared that sweets were not actually foods so cakes could now be eaten on religious feast days giving rise to specific cakes being associated with religious holidays. The Medieval Courts encouraged elaborate banquets with highly decorated food, cakes would often be covered in gold leaf, silver and even gemstones (Flandrin and Montanari 1999) .

According to Richard Sax (1994) it wasn’t until the 16th century that cakes and sweet dishes were served at the end of the meal, where previously sweet and savoury courses were mixed and often were incorporated into the same meal. From approximately the 13th to 17th century advancements in agricultural improvements and increased overseas trade, the once exotic and uncommon ingredients became widely available and encouraged baking to become more widespread, eating cakes would now become a daily occurrence rather than just for religious or special occasions.

Cakes were becoming more and more enriched with butter, eggs, cream and being heavily fruited and spiced, and tinplate hoops were beginning to be used to shape and mould cakes making them easier to bake and serve (Peter Brears 1985). As written by Adamson (2004), using moulds to give cakes a distinctive shape was especially popular in Germany where such tins as a “Turks Head Pan” were used and continues to be used to this day for making Gugelhupf. ————————————————- During the mid 1700’s yeast was being replaced with eggs as the main source of leavening cakes.

This would have taken a huge amount of time in order to whip eggs by hand (sometimes up to an hour) to get to the level of aeration that was needed. This method however resulted in a much lighter cake made possible from the amount of air incorporated during the beating of the eggs. An example of a cake from this era is the pound cake created in England and used equal quantities of flour, butter, and sugar, and of course eggs to be used as the aerating agent, (http://whatscookingamerica. net). ————————————————-

The 1800’s saw improvements in milling technologies to give more refined flours, superior ovens were being produced with better temperature control and the creation of baking powder by Alfred Bird when he combined bicarbonate of soda with cream of tartar to formulate one of the most significant inventions which has had long lasting effect on baking be it in the home or in industry. (Pam Corbin 2011) Baking powder took the hard work out of baking and cakes made from around this time are more akin to what we class as modern day cakes today.

Other culinary tools such as hand held egg beaters were now being mass produced along with cookbooks which no housewife would be without. ————————————————- By the early 1900’s baking technology made huge advancements and as early as the1920’s the boxed cake mix was invented. General Mills an American company developed the brand “Betty Crocker” which by the 1940’s exploded on to the market with their “just add water and mix” method. They became hugely popular with housewives as they were timesaving and cost effective. ———————————————— The 1900’s also saw the rise in home cake decorating which previously had only been done by professionals, cake decorator Dewey McKinley Wilton set up a cake decorating school, and eventually manufactured and sold decorating products which paved the way for the booming multi billion dollar businesses that exists today. ————————————————- ————————————————- Ingredients ————————————————- Baking employs carefully balanced formulas.

What goes into a flour based baked good either strengthens/toughens (proteins and starches), weakens/tenderizes (fats and sugars), moistens (any water containing ingredient), dries, or leavens it, however without heat and water, the important chemical and physical reactions wouldn’t take place. There are four basic ingredients that are used in cake baking: flour, fat, sugar and eggs, however any combination of these added with leavening agents, liquids and flavourings can result in thousands of recipes with completely different look, feel and taste from each other. ———————————————— Flour: ————————————————- Flour is the primary structure builder in cakes and is used to bind all of the other ingredients together. Cake flour is milled from soft wheat giving it a protein content of approximately 6-8%. Wheat flour contains two very important proteins, glutenin and gliadin, when mixed with moisture and stirred, create gluten strands, which set when baked, however these gluten strands can also lead to a tough, dry cake if the flour is mixed for too long.

There are many types of flour used in cake making the most popular being cream flour (contains and acid), plain flour and self raising flour (contains baking powder), However there are numerous other flours on the market today that can be used. Hi-ratio flour has been specially formulated for the commercial bakery which can allow maximum sugar and liquid absorption resulting in higher yield and increased profits. ————————————————- ————————————————- Fat: ————————————————-

Fats come in two forms: solid(butter, shortening and margarine) and liquid(oil). Adding fat to a cake mixture can do several things, the action of beating/creaming the fat , such as butter with sugar will incorporate air bubbles allowing the batter to be light and aid in the leavening process. Fat also has a tenderising effect and increases the keeping qualities of the cake. Fats also have a shortening effect as it shortens the gluten strands. It contributes to a smooth mouth feel and flavour especially in the case of butter.

Fats help to keep food products moist and extend shelf life. ————————————————- ————————————————- Eggs: ————————————————- Eggs add colour, flavour and nutrition to baked goods. The protein in the egg holds air and acts as a raising agent when whipped before other ingredients are added. The lecithin in egg yolks is an emulsifying agent that acts during mixing to assist with binding the ingredients together and tenderising.

When baked, eggs coagulate causing them to set. ————————————————- ————————————————- Sugar: ————————————————- Sugar plays a vital role in cake baking as it imparts Sweetness to the cake mixture. Usually Caster sugar is used as their smaller granules dissolve quickly especially when it’s creamed together with fat; this action causes the sugar to hold air and acts as a raising agent.

During baking the sugar caramelises causing the cake to colour and brown because sugar is also a hygroscopic substance; it helps with a recipe’s moisture retention and thus increases its shelf life by slowing the staling process (www. baking911. com) ————————————————- Other ingredients that can be incorporated with the ones listed above are endless, some examples are: ————————————————- Dairy: milk, buttermilk, cream, cheese and sour cream ———————————————— Fruits: lemons, oranges, limes, dried fruits, cherries and mixed peel ————————————————- Nuts: almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, peanuts, coconut and walnuts ————————————————- Flavourings: Chocolate, Vanilla, almond extract, spices and alcohol ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- International Practices ———————————————— Krystina Castella (2010) writes in her book A world of Cake that every celebration around the world is accompanied by cake that embodies the rituals of that particular society, and that every culture globally has their own version of cakes that symbolize the customs and traditions of their respective histories. Ancient civilisations all offered cakes to their gods and so throughout history became an integral part of religious and other holiday customs of different ethnicities.

Of course the recipes change from country to country and even from town to town but generally these traditional cake customs are still alive today if though slightly evolved from their first beginnings. Here are some samples of celebrations from around the world and an example of the type of cakes that are still eaten at that time: ————————————————- China: Mid-autumn festival: Mooncakes ————————————————- Mexico: Day of the Dead: Pan de Meurto ————————————————- India: Diwali: Gulab Jamun ———————————————— France: Bastille Day: Opera Gateaux ————————————————- Italy: Liberation Day: Cassata U. S. A: Shrove Tuesday: New Orleans King Cake Ireland: Easter: Hot Cross Buns Many recipes were developed because of the ingredients that were available in that particular region and what methods were accessible at the time, mass immigration/emigration globally played an enormous part as can be seen with the discovery of the New World which brought with it a diversity of people from all corners of the globe to contribute to the birth of America.

This assortment of cultures resulted in the amalgamation of traditional recipes brought from the home country such as Scottish scones becoming American shortcakes, Dutch fried cakes became doughnuts and German streusel became American buckle cake. The Amish community, who were German settlers, brought their no frills baking concept with them and famous “American” cakes such as Funnel cakes and Angel food cakes derive from the Amish people.

The Jewish settlers from middle and Eastern Europe have made a huge impact on baking practices especially in America where a great proportion of them made a new home in New York. The renowned New York cheesecake can be attributed to Reuben’s Deli which were the first to substitute cottage cheese for cream cheese and according to Amander Hessner (2010) was a detail that defined the New York cheesecake that went on to win them a gold medal at the 1929 World Fair.

Jacob Kenedy (2011) writes that turbulent histories have left a positive impact in culinary terms in some regions such as the French leaving behind the techniques of fine viennoiserie and patisseries, helping to make Naples one of the capitals of Italian desserts. In Britain Queen Victoria made popular the custom of high tea, a very dignified tradition of eating sweet dishes and drinking tea which initiated the development of numerous new recipes for cakes and sweet treats, and although the ritual is not part of every day life today, people still associate having something sweet to eat while having a cup of tea.

Domestic, Plant and Boutique Style Bakeries Up until the mid 20th Century the majority of cakes that were baked were made by housewives and small local bakeries, however the emergence of the supermarket had a massive impact on the buying and eating patterns of the public. As mentioned above such products as cake mixes were now available to help the harried housewife, along with frozen desserts which were now available due to advances in technology allowing every home to have refrigeration and freezer capabilities.

The establishment of Women’s Lib afforded women the freedom to work outside of the home contributing to the now emerging gap in the market for convenience foods. By the 1960’s huge advances were been made to eliminate fermentation time in bread making by mechanical and chemical means, and naturally methods were also being developed to “improve” cake production on a mass scale. Unfortunately in order to produce cake viable for sale for longer periods of time involved the introduction of emulsifiers, stabilisers and other additives to increase their shelf life.

Flour was also been chlorinated to produce a high ratio flour that could absorb higher quantities of sugar and liquid allowing a higher profit margin for producers. High demand for ready made baked goods saw the rise of small bakeries in Ireland nonetheless it has been argued that Ireland’s entry into the EEC played a part in the decline of these bakeries due to European large plant bakeries flooding the market with cheaper products. The Celtic tiger years of Ireland however saw a revival of sorts to the traditional and artisan baking.

This resurgence can be attributed to several reasons, Kavanagh(2008) states her beliefs as follows: “individuals have travelled and are aware of standards and choice elsewhere thus seeking variety on their return” she also explains “increased disposable income has meant that the consumer is more quality and health conscious and seeks organic, fresh, and local produce an indication of the increase in the number of farmer’s markets emerging” Chef Clodagh McKenna explains that artisan producers and farmers markets have played their part in revitalising local economies by encouraging employment and bringing forth a new generation of interested people. Health, nutrition and consumption trends In an article written by Miriam Tuomey(2011) for Bord bia, it has been found that the sale of home baking products in Ireland, has grown by 8. 1% to reach a value of almost €63m in the year ended 23 Jan 2011, according to Kantar. (www. bordbia. e) This trend in home baking can also be attributed to enormous food dedicated programmes on television where chefs and bakers are now afforded celebrity status and home baking has now become officially “cool” Another aspect driving consumption trends is the increased awareness of health implications from certain ingredients used in baked products. There is greater demand for natural ingredients as apposed to some of the ingredients in massed produced goods such as preservatives, flavourings, colourings, artificial sweeteners, stabilisers and modified starches. Through scientific and medical advances, more is known about wheat intolerance and coeliac disease and the baking industry has responded by producing gluten-free baked products, other products are also being produced to suit the dietary needs of people who are lactose intolerant, have allergies such as egg and nuts, for diabetics and for people who generally want to follow a healthy lifestyle. Conclusion

Cake has started off as a basic nutritional addition to the diet of ancient civilisations and has progressed to play a vital role in the development of cultures and traditions and visa versa. They are an integral part of modern and traditional celebrations, bringing people together, be it for a religious festival, a wedding, or a birthday. The fusion of cultures and the opening of global markets have meant that everyone now has access to ingredients, recipes, tools and knowledge from every nation and the modern baker has the world of cake at their feet. ————————————————- ————————————————- References: ————————————————- ———————————————— Adamson,M. (2004) Food in Medieval Times Greenwood Press, London ————————————————- Brears, P. (1985) Food and Cooking in 17th Century Britain History and Recipes Peter Brears and English Heritage, London ————————————————- Castella,K, (2010) A World of Cake, Storey Publishing, M. A. ————————————————- Corbin, P. (2011) The River Cottage Cakes Handbook Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, London ————————————————- Flandrin, J,L, and Montanari,M (1999) Food a Culinary History, Columbia

University Press, New York ————————————————- Hessner, A. (2010) The Essential New York Times Cook Book, Classic Recipes for a New Century W. W. Norton and company, New York ————————————————- Humble,N. (2010) Cake a Global History, Reaktion books, London ————————————————- Kavanagh, M. (2008) Curriculum Evolution at the Department of Baking Technology (National Bakery School), D. I. T, Kevin Street,1998-2008: What Factors Have Brought About a Change in the Curriculum M. A thesis Dublin Institute of Technology ————————————————- Kenedy, J. 2011) Bocca Cookbook Bloomsbury, London ————————————————- McKenna, C. (n. d. ) The Irish Farmers Market Cookbook, Collins ————————————————- Sax, R. (1994) Classic Home Desserts Houghton Mifflin Company, New York ————————————————- How Baking works (n. d. ) [online} Available: http://www. baking911. com/howto/how_baking_works. htm [Accessed 5th October, 2011] ————————————————- Toumey, M. (2011) Homebaking Products show further Growth [online] Available: http://www. bordbia. ie/industryservices/information/alerts/Pages/Homebakingstillgrowing. spx [Accessed 21st October, 2011] ————————————————- http://whatscookingamerica. net/history/cakes {[online] [accessed 4th October, 2011] ————————————————- www. theoldfoodie. com/2010/10/brief-history-ofcakes. html [online] [Accessed 4th October, 2011] ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ———————————————— ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ———————————————— ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————- ————————————————-

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