A cake is a sweet baked treat that symbolizes celebration and happiness. For centuries people have been making cakes on special occasions such as
weddings, anniversaries, christenings, and many others to represent their joy.
The ancient Egyptians were the world’s first great bakers, with large-scale bakeries that produced unleavened breads and cakes. The first cakes were baked on hot stones and that's where the round shape of the cake comes from. Egyptians were also the first to discover how to use natural yeast to make those flat breads and cakes rise.
Later, in the 18th century, bakers discovered the technique of whipping eggs to make cakes rise. While it required many hours of beating, it heralded the dawn of modern baking. As ovens with regulated temperatures became available, and sugar became affordable to everyone, more people were able to bake, resulting in the development of more recipes much more quickly. The modern cake as we know it began to take shape in the mid-19th century.
A typical cake of the present day generally includes sugar, yeast, baking powder, or sodium bicarbonate as the leavening ingredient; flour and eggs to bind the ingredients together; and butter or oil to make it moist. However, there are hundreds of different types of cakes in the world today, each with a distinct taste, texture, and flavor. But if we are to classify cakes into different types they can be simply divided into two main categories: foam cakes and butter cakes.
Foam cakes are generally called low fat as they include little or no butter (fat) in them. These cakes are usually light, fluffy, and slightly moist. They consist of eggs and often no flour. A liquid such as milk, fruit juice, or even melted jam is usually a part of the recipe. The foam cakes include sponge cakes, chiffon cakes, and angel food cakes.
Sponge cake is thought to be one of the first of the non-yeast cakes, and the earliest recorded sponge cake recipe in English dates back to the 17th century. Sponge cakes are light, fluffy, and quite easy to make. A typical sponge cake simply includes eggs, self raising flour, milk, and some cream or jam for frosting.
Angel food cake is said to have originated in North America and first became popular in the U.S. in the late 19th century. It got its name because of it was so light and fluffy, it was said to be the "food of the angels." This layer cake is absolutely fat free and includes no butter at all. It is made of egg whites, sugar, cream, and flour. Angel food cakes are very perishable, they cannot be stored for long and must be eaten fresh.
The chiffon cake was invented in 1927 in California by Harry Baker who kept the recipe a secret for 20 years until he sold it to General Mills. In 1948, the name was changed to "chiffon cake" and a set of 14 recipes and variations were released to the public. Though it is a combination of both butter and foam type cakes, the chiffon cake is very light and made with vegetable oil, eggs, sugar, flour, baking powder, and flavorings.
Butter cakes, as the name suggests, are mainly made of butter (or solid shortening or margarine) and are usually very moist and fine-textured. A typical butter cake recipe includes sugar, eggs, flour, milk, and lots of butter. It's usually topped with a thick icing of butter cream made of butter and icing sugar.
The features of each particular cake vary depending on the occasion it's given for. If it is a birthday cake, it will most likely come with colorful, sugary frosting that spells out "Happy Birthday" along with the recipient's name and age. Wedding cakes come in a smooth finish with fancy icing designs down the tiers and sides. Wedding cakes are typically white with pastel accent colors. Themed cakes are flat, single layer cakes decorated with icing words and sugar art to create the theme for the cake or party. But whatever the cake, it is in the first place a symbol of celebration! And regardless of the occasion who can possibly resist a slice of delicious, freshly baked cake?
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