Cake is a form of bread or bread-like food. In its modern forms, it is typically a sweet baked dessert. In its oldest forms, cakes were normally fried breads or cheesecakes, and normally had a disk shape.
Modern Day Cake
Modern cake, especially layer cakes, normally contain a combination of flour, sugar, and butter or oil, with some varieties also requiring liquid (typically milk or water) and leavening agents (such as yeast or baking powder).
Flavorful ingredients like fruit purees, nuts. dried or candied fruit, or extracts are often added, and numerous substitutions for the primary ingredients are possible. Cakes are often filled with Fruit preserves or dessert sauces (like pastry cream), iced with butter cream or other icings, and decorated with marzipan, piped borders or candied fruit. There are literally thousands of cakes recipes (some are bread-like and some rich and elaborate) and many are centuries old.
The Primitive Cake Making
The most primitive people in the world began making cakes shortly after they discovered flour. In medieval England, the cakes that were described in writings were not cakes in the conventional sense. They were described as flour-based sweet foods as opposed to the description of breads, which were just flour-based foods without sweetening.
Bread and cake were somewhat interchangeable words with the term “cake” being used for smaller breads. The earliest examples were found among the remains of Neolithic villages where archaeologists discovered simple cakes made from crushed grains, moistened, compacted and probably cooked on a hot stone. Today’s version of this early cake would be oatcakes, though now we think of them more as a biscuit or cookie.
Cakes were called “plakous” by the Greeks, from the word for “flat.” These cakes were usually combinations of nuts and honey. They also had a cake called “satura,” which was a flat heavy cake.
During the Roman period, the name for cake (derived from the Greek term) became “placenta.” They were also called “libum” by the Romans, and were primarily used as an offering to their gods. Placenta was more like a cheesecake, baked on a pastry base, or sometimes inside a pastry case.
The terms “bread” and “cake” became interchangeable as years went by. The words themselves are of Anglo Saxon origin, and it’s probable that the term cake was used for the smaller breads. Cakes were usually baked for special occasions because they were made with the finest and most expensive ingredients available to the cook. The wealthier you were, the more likely you might consume cake on a more frequent basis.
Basic Types of Cakes
There are several hundred variations and types of cakes that are made today, with new types being created everyday. However the basic types are still the simpler cakes like the flour based cake and the cheesecake.
The flour based cake is combined with flavors, colours and various types of icing that form different shapes and sizes of much more elaborate and fancy cakes. While the basic cheesecake is also given different flavors and textures to create different types of cheesecakes.
There are cake types that combine both the flour based cake as well as the cheesecake and form another wonderfully delicious variation of this beautiful and scrumptious dessert. There are also cream and moose based cakes which may possibly come under a basic form which is further combined with other variations to create an entirely new cake type.