Cake History: 5 Things to Know

Cake History: 5 Things to Know

Cake has a pretty rich history (get it?) – one that spans back thousands of years. So to whet your appetite for the great Mancunian bake-off that is next month’s Caketober, here are some facts and figures about the ultimate indulgence food…

The word ‘cake’ comes from an old Scandinavian word

If you were around in the 14th century and you were Nordic, you’d have called cake ‘kaka’. And this is where the word ‘cake’ comes from – the latter being the Middle English take on the Old Nordic word.

The cupcake concept is at least 221 years old

A cookbook from 1796 – Amelia Simmons’s American Cookery – contains the earliest known mention of what we now call cupcakes. But Simmons only referred to it as “a light cake to bake in small cups” in her book. A great concept but not that catchiest of titles.

The actual word ‘cupcake’ wasn’t used until 1828 (as far as we know), in a cookbook called Receipts (i.e. “recipes”) by Eliza Leslie.

There is a clear distinction between cake and biscuit

Some sweet treats are difficult to categorise – is it a ‘cake’ or is it a ‘biscuit’?

But there is in fact a very simple way to find out for certain: let it age for a few days, then have a prod.

Cakes go harder with age, whereas biscuits go softer. Simple.

Cake has caused court cases

Cake is exempt from VAT, whereas biscuit is not.

That’s right: you have to pay tax on your rich teas, but not on your Cadbury Mini Rolls. It’s a mad world.

McVitie’s famously went to court with HM Customs and Excise over the Jaffa Cake in 1991. After years of the product being legally and theoretically considered a cake, an HMCE review ruled it as a biscuit, which McVitie’s appealed in a VAT tribunal (and won!).

We’re still waiting on the film adaptation.

There’s fierce competition for world records in cake-making

If you were to guess, what would you say was the size of the largest cake ever made? 15 or 20 feet tall? That may sound about right, but it’s well off…

The tallest cake ever made (so far) actually stood at 108 feet. It was a chocolate cake, FYI.

The longest cake ever made (so far) was just over 9,903 feet. This one was a sponge cake filled with custard and whipped cream.

Signed up for Caketober yet?

If all this talk of cake has got you licking your lips, why don’t you sign up for Caketober 2017?

“What is Caketober?” we hear you ask.

It’s a month-long event that takes place every October in Greater Manchester, and it’s all about baking cakes and dressing up in fancy dress for charity.

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