How Birthday Cakes Came into Being

by | Jan 8, 2014 | Baked Goods

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It was the Romans who first used the notion of a birthday cake as a celebratory way of experiencing ones birthday. They used leavened breasts with nuts and honey as a sweetener at weddings, as did the Ancient Greeks. The Romans, however, began to expand on the idea of celebrating with a cake and slowly the idea became embedded in everyday culture. The Europeans were the ones who kind of took the idea and ran with it, however and bakeries in Germany began to create cakes to sell.

It was during the seventeenth century that the European birthday cake began to take the form that we recognize, nowadays. It was a more modern, multi-layered cake with a frosting or an icing on the top, but because of the elaborate and expensive designs the cakes tended to only be available for the rich. The industrial revolution saw the emergence of a more proletariat style birthday cake, making them more accessible to all rather than a select few.

Tradition and Candles

The tradition around the birthday cake has sort of grown out of many smaller cultural ideas and blends over the years. The addition of candles is a more Westernized and contemporary idea, as is the ‘happy birthday’ song. The writing on birthday cakes was not conceptualized until the early 1900’s but now is a very common practice. Different countries have different traditions that express good luck to the birthday person. Some countries have little additional practices, such as in New Zealand, where they clap the amount of the birthday years and one for luck. Other countries have cake eating traditions whereby the birthday person takes a huge bite out of the cake before anyone else gets any and in the other countries the guests tap the birthday person’s shoulder.

Birthday cakes are decorated differently according to the person’s preference and style as well as available ingredients. For instance a birthday cake in Chicago might be decorated with a cream cheese frosting, but a birthday cake in England will be decorated using icing or a fondant topping, as a sign of the cultural differences and preferences. Other countries might have no icing or topping whatsoever and others again might have honey or nuts, just like the Romans.

To taste a true delicious flavor of a birthday cake in Chicago contact LaPatisserieP for a list of their choices and prices.

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