Cake is a worldwide favourite dessert. In 2016, Americans spent almost $140 million on cakes alone, per the Webstaurant Store.
An article states that the ancient Egyptians were the first civilization to realise that the naturally occurring yeast in the air was the key to making their dough rise. The ancestors of the first cakes were yeasted loaves baked on hot stones. In the 19th century, the introduction of leavening agents such as baking soda and baking powder, as well as the increasing accessibility of sugar and ordinary home ovens, gave rise to the modern cake.
Like other regional cuisines and meals, cakes are influenced by the surrounding cultures and ingredients. Here are some of the most popular cakes and their distinguishing characteristics.
Red Velvet Cake
Red velvet cake has remained one of the most popular sweets in America. The Washington Post says that the cake’s name describes its velvety, silky texture. The colour, which is uncommon in other cake varieties, was originally generated from unprocessed cocoa powder. Raw cocoa powder first appeared in the 1800s and is rich in anthocyanin, a pigment that colours foods blue, purple, or red when combined with an acid. The earliest red velvet cakes were baked with buttermilk, which contains sufficient acidity to react with the anthocyanin and generate a characteristic burgundy colour. When eggs and milk were in short supply during World War I, many bakers were obliged to use grated beets and cooked juice as substitutes. This also enhanced the cake’s red colour.
In the 1930s, after getting approval from the Food and Drug Administration, colour additives became widely used.
According to Mental Floss, Adams Extract utilised the authorization to promote their red food colouring. Shortly thereafter, the business issued a recipe for “Adams Red Velvet Cake.”
The pineapple upside-down cake is a staple of vintage baking. According to Alto Hartley, cast iron skillets have been used to cook over open flames for centuries. As a sweet treat, ancient societies would line the bottom of the pan with sliced fruit, pour the batter on top, and then flip the cake over once it was baked. Due to the fact that early cast-iron pans had small “spider legs,” upside-down fruit cakes were termed “spider cakes.”
The foundation of the Hawaiian Pineapple Company increased pineapple’s popularity in America (now Dole). This tart dessert is ideal for family gatherings and special occasions.
Black Forest cake
The Black Forest cake derives its name from a sour cherry brandy made in the Black Forest region of Germany called Schwarzwalder kirschwasser (kirsch). Traditionally, the Black Forest cake was soaked in sour cherry brandy. In 2016, the European Union granted the Black Forest gateau (as it is known in Great Britain) “protected status.” This means that, according to Channel4 News, a Black Forest cake can only be named such if the kirsch comes from the Black Forest region of Germany.
Typically, the chocolate sponge is soaked in sugar syrup flavoured with cherry brandy and topped with whipped cream to create a Black Forest cake. In Germany, Black Forest cake is made with buttercream, whereas in Austria, it is made with whipped cream, gelatin, and cornflour.
Cupcakes are a distinctly American dessert. According to the Hummingbird Bakery, the first mention of the dish may have been in a 1796 cookbook as “a cake made in miniature cups.” Another suggestion is that cupcakes were referred to as a volumetric measurement technique, akin to the pound cake. During the 18th century, queen cakes were prevalent; these individually portioned cakes were readily delivered and did not require utensils.
In the 1950s, commercial paper cupcake liners were widely distributed by the James River Corporation, according to ThoughtCo. Sprinkles Cupcake, the first cupcake bakery, opened in 2005 and now sells over 45,000 cupcakes everyday.
In general, cupcakes are available in nearly all of the same flavours as regular cakes, allowing you to personalise your batch.
Oh Danish Bakery asserts that coffee cake is likely a descendant of the Danish custom of consuming sweetbreads with morning coffee. Scandinavians and Germans began mixing coffee with sweetbreads loaded with nuts, fruits, and spices after its introduction to the European continent in the 1600s.
In the late 1800s, Dutch and German immigrants brought coffee cake to the United States. In the 1870s, bakers in New York, New Jersey, and Delaware began transforming coffee cake into a pastry rather than a loaf of bread. In the 1950s, bakers began using Bundt pans to better accommodate a larger batter and streusel topping.
Modern coffee cake can be topped with a variety of icings, fruits, and nuts. A bittersweet chocolate ganache covers a Turkish coffee cake flavoured with bittersweet chocolate, espresso powder, pomegranate molasses, and cocoa powder.
Angel food cake
Angel food cake is a light, airy dessert created with a ridiculous number of eggs. Martha Stewart classifies it as a “foam cake” since its structure is derived from vigorously beaten egg whites rather than oil, yolks, or butter.
Angel food cake is extremely adaptable. For a chocolate angel food cake, bakers may replace citrus or almond extracts and add unsweetened cocoa powder in place of vanilla. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves can be used to give angel food cake a spiced undertone.
Use sifted ingredients and caster sugar rather than granulated sugar to achieve the ideal light texture. A stand mixer is also useful for preparing angel food cake since it allows for regular movement when fluffing meringue. When you’re ready to fold the egg whites into the mixture, though, you should forego the stand mixer; using a stand mixer may deflate the angel food cake and make it dense.
Devil’s food cake
Significant distinctions exist between chocolate cake and devil’s food cake. The structure of the dense texture of devil’s food cake is derived from vegetable oil. Devil’s food cake, unlike its counterpart angel food cake, uses leavening ingredients such as baking soda and baking powder to rise. Some recipes for devil’s food cake include coffee to enhance the chocolate flavour.
Similar to other cakes, devil’s food cake can be modified based on the taste profiles sought and the availability of other components.
There is evidence that shredded beets were added to the early devil’s food cake recipes to enhance moisture and sweetness; this makes the devil’s food cake the ancestor of the well-known red velvet cake.
Grated orange peel complements the flavour of dark chocolate without making the dough overly moist.
The history of the pound cake is rather straightforward. In Britain throughout the 18th century, uneducated bakers relied on memorised recipes to produce consistent baked goods. The components for a traditional pound cake are butter, sugar, eggs, and flour. For the original pound cake recipe, a pound of each ingredient was used. Eventually, pound cake found its way to the southern United States and became a household favourite.
Modern variations of the recipe for pound cake feature unique flavours and textures. Chef Stephanie Prida’s recipe for olive oil pound cake with glazed apples calls for oil instead of butter, chopped walnuts, brandy, and apple slices glazed with cider. Greek yoghurt with the addition of ground cardamom, diced rhubarb, and orange zest preserve the smooth texture of rhubarb pound cake. This springtime pound cake topped with black tea cream is a wonderful addition to your kitchen table.
Sponge cake was the progenitor of many contemporary cake varieties. According to Dinner Then Dessert, the fundamental distinction between sponge cake and angel food cake is that sponge cake employs both egg whites and egg yolks, whereas angel food cake uses only egg whites.
The components for Italian sponge cake are eggs at room temperature, granulated sugar, and low-protein flour. The recipe can be altered to incorporate extracts, such as lemon, which is the most common flavour used in Italian baking. In a manner comparable to angel food cake, the maker must avoid deflating the mixture prior to baking.
Genoise Sponge Cake
According to the King Arthur Baking Company, genoise sponge cake is enhanced with butter and egg yolk and flavoured with flavoured syrup. The trick to making a tasty, yet airy sponge that can be piled into a torte is to brush the cake with the ideal amount of syrup rather than soaking it.
The Great British Bake Off frequently features the Genoise sponge cake. Mary Berry, the self-proclaimed “queen of cakes,” had bakers create mockatines during the technical phase of Season 6, Episode 8 of the competition. These little genoise sponge cakes are flavoured with coffee buttercream and crème beurre au moka, a French coffee buttercream. A few seasons later, Prue Leith introduced Le Gateau Vert, a cake filled with pistachio-flavored genoise sponge and topped with pistachio marzipan and a spinach-based, alcoholic crème au beurre.
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