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Sunday, 20 October 2013



The legend of King Alfred burning a villager’s cakes when in disguise dates only from the 12th century, some 300 years after he lived.

The word ‘cake’ dates from the 13th century. It comes from the Old Norse ‘kaka’, and is related to modern-day Danish ‘kage’ and German ‘Kuchen.’

In early Yorkshire, England, a plate holding wedding cake was thrown out of the window as the bride returned to her parent's home after the wedding.

Because of the abundance of candied fruits and sugars in fruitcake, it was considered “sinfully rich” and was outlawed in Europe in the early 18th century. It became popular again in the 19th century when it was included at tea time in England.

The earliest known reference to a ‘birthday cake’ was in 1785.

Putting candles on birthday cakes originated with the ancient Greeks. They made round cakes to honor Artemis, the goddess of the moon, which were often decorated with candles to represent the lunar glow.

Jane Austen wrote in a letter to her sister in 1808, “You know how interesting the purchase of a sponge-cake is to me.”  This is the earliest known use of the hyphenated word “sponge-cake”.

German chocolate cake did not originate in Germany. It was named after an American, Samuel German, who in 1852  developed a type of dark baking chocolate for the American Baker's Chocolate Company. The brand name of the product, Baker's German's Sweet Chocolate, was named in honor of him.

Queen Victoria adopted the mid nineteenth century craze for tea parties. The Victoria sandwich cake, named after her was one of the queen's favorites at these culinary events.

In 1867 Charles Ranhofer, the chef of the famous Delmonico's restaurant in New York,  created a new sponge cake covered in ice cream to celebrate the American purchase of Alaska from the Russians. It was, at first, called Alaska-Florida Cake, before being changed to Baked Alaska.

A new sponge cake made with apricot jam was named a Battenberg cake in honor of the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Victoria to Prince Louis of Battenberg in 1884.

The oldest known recipe of carrot cake dates from 1892, in a book of the housekeeping school of Kaiseraugst (Canton of Aargau, Switzerland) It did not become popular until the 1940s because of rationing during the Second World War.

The oldest still existing wedding cake was baked in 1898. It now resides in the Willis Museum in Basingstoke.

Sometimes, early telephone operators would get to know their customers so well, the customers would ask for a reminder call when it was time to remove a cake from the oven.


In 2011, a man crashed Paris Hilton's 30th birthday party, stole her $3,200 birthday cake, and served it to the homeless.

Black Forest Cake (see below) consists of layers of chocolate cake with whipped cream and cherries between them. The cake is decorated with more whipped cream, maraschino cherries and chocolate shaving. The cake is German in origins (early 1900’s) and named from distilled cherries from the Black Forest mountain range in southwestern Germany.

The name Brownie comes from the deep brown color of the confection. Its origin is with a housewife from Bangor, Maine who was baking chocolate cake one day and it fell. Instead of throwing it out, this thrifty cook cut the collapsed cake into bars and served it.

Adolf Hitler loved chocolate cake.

The world record for the most layers in a cake was 255. It was created in 2011 by three Toronto bakeries to celebrate Canada’s 144th birthday. It required 287lb of sugar.

Indonesia holds the record for the world’s tallest cake, with a 108ft-high monster.

The biggest cake in the world was a wedding cake made by chefs at the Mohegan Sun Hotel and Casino, Uncasville, Connecticut, USA. It was unveiled at the New England Bridal Showcase on February 8, 2004. The cake measured 17 feet high and weighed 15,032 pounds.

Pound cake is so named not just because of the pound of butter, but more precisely because each of the four main ingredients (flour, butter, sugar and eggs) are weighed out as a pound.

The ‘cakewalk’ dance began in the southern USA as a competition in graceful walking, with cake awarded as a prize.

69% eat the cake before the frosting.

The record for fruit cake eating is 4lb 14.25oz in ten minutes. It was set by Sonya Thomas in 2003.

German Chocolate Cake is not German. It got its name from Sam German, who came up with a specific type of chocolate in 1852 for the Baker's Chocolate Company.

Sources Food For Thought: Extraordinary Little Chronicles of the World by Ed Pearce,

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