“Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!” or, “Let them eat cake!” Perhaps the most famous quote about cake ever were the words of a great French princess. Typically attributed to Marie Antoinette herself upon being informed that the peasants were so poor that they had no bread to eat during one of the famines that occurred in France during the reign of her husband, Louis XVI.
Needless to say, the ignorance and arrogance of that disdainful statement did not win either Marie Antoinette or her husband any respect or sympathy from their people, who then proceeded to behead both of them during the French Revolution!
However, none of this changes the fact that cake is arguably one of the most delicious baked goods that humans have ever made to eat, and its numerous varieties continue to astound every cake fan. For that reason, it is obvious that cake is more than deserving of its own little holiday.
The History of National Cake Day
The history of cake dates back to ancient times, and the first cakes are thought to have been made in Ancient Greece and Egypt. These first cakes were rather heavy and flat and were eaten at the end of a meal with nuts and honey.
Nowadays, this type of cake has evolved into baklava, a traditional Greek dessert and a must-try for any fan of sweet stickiness. In later years the ancient Romans also created their own version of this sweet treat, which was rather creamy and rich. However, like in many cultures around the world, this cake was often reserved for the gods and was offered to them at their temples as a sign of respect, love, and reverence.
The Oxford English Dictionary traces the English word cake back to the 13th century. During the Great Depression, it was necessary to provide easy, relatively cheap food to millions of Americans who were living in poverty, and the boxed cake mix was born. The idea turned out to be pure gold, as millions of housewives all over the United States took advantage of this way to make their lives easier.
Cakes started being used to celebrate birthdays in 19th century Western Europe and eventually earned their candles on top. But cakes are also a delightful addition to a variety of other meals and functions, from a simple family dessert to a huge catered party. Whether chocolate or black forest, angel food or the pineapple upside-down version, pretty much everyone enjoys a slice of cake.
And now, National Cake Day is celebrated throughout the world!
National Cake Day Timeline
First recorded use of the word “cake”
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word “cake” can be traced back to this time. The word is likely of Viking origins from the Old Norse language.
First modern cakes are baked
With advances in technology of ovens, and the use of whipped eggs (instead of yeast) for leavening, the predecessor to modern versions of cakes began. These cakes are typically round and topped with icing, often containing dried fruits and nuts.
Cakes become part of birthday celebrations
In Germany, the “Kinderfest” is the celebration of a child’s birthday. Though no gifts are given, there is a cake that is decorated with the number of candles corresponding to the child’s age. Later, the industrial revolution makes the tradition even more accessible and popular.
Cake recipe published in London
One of the first recipes for cake published in a cookbook appears as a Layer Cake in The Cassell’s New Universal Cookery Book.
First cake mix appears
Sold in a can instead of a box, the first cake mix contained not only flour but also dried molasses, dried eggs and some other ingredients that water could be added to at home. New flavors developed and making cakes became even more varied but rather simple.
How to Celebrate National Cake Day
Everyone loves to celebrate National Cake Day! Whether making, eating or sharing this delicious dessert, this is the perfect day to enjoy a treat with ideas such as these:
Enjoy a Slice of Cake
Of course, the best way to celebrate National Cake Day is by eating cake with family and friends. It is possible to buy a number of different types of cakes to celebrate the event. Many cafes and bakeries sell cake pieces by the slice, so it’s easy to try a few different flavors.
Grab a few friends, head on over to a bakery, and fill up your plates with several different kinds. Pass the forks around and tuck into a bite of each of them. Cinnamon coffee cake, pound cake, bundt cake or strawberry shortcake. It really doesn’t matter which kind, as long as it is appreciated and enjoyed on this important bakery day.
Bake a Variety of Cakes
Have fun making your own cakes at home to mark the occasion. There are many different kinds of cake to choose from. Yeast cakes are one of the oldest types and are pretty similar to bread in texture, due to the yeast content.
Cheesecake is another type of cake that is unique and also delicious. It’s easy to find many different types of cheesecake, starting with the rich and creamy New York-style cheesecakes baked in a graham cracker crust and drowned in cherry syrup. Or, try out the healthier varieties made from cottage cheese and filled with orange and lemon peel and raisins that are lower in calories and fat and higher in protein.
Sponge cakes rely on the air trapped inside them during baking for their light texture, and are famously paired with rich butter or cream cheese-based icings for balance; however, these icings tend to be a bit complicated to make and are easily ruined, so if for those who are novice bakers, perhaps go for something a bit simpler.
Red Velvet Cakes, Carrot Cakes, and Lemon Drizzle cakes are all delicious varieties of cake that can be made with a myriad of different recipes and ingredients. So pick a type of cake that suits the needs of your family and friends the best–and then get started baking! The experience will be both fun and educational.
Take a Cake Decorating Class
Cakes are delicious to eat, but an equally exciting part of a cake is the way that the outside can be decorated in all sorts of ways. From icing roses to fondant shapes, decorating a cake with sugary sweetness is an art form all its own. Check at a local library or hobby store to see what types of cake decorating classes might be on offer. Those who get really good at cake decorating might even choose to turn it into a delightful business opportunity!
Share Cake with Others
Inherent in its size, cake is almost always meant to be shared! That means that National Cake Day is the perfect opportunity to buy (or bake) a large cake and then find some people to share it with. Coworkers, neighbors, the mailman or the teacher at the kids’ school. Anyone will feel delighted and thankful to be given a piece of cake on this day. Many of them might not even know that it’s National Cake Day, so be sure to share the news so they can get on board with it too!
Find National Cake Day Discounts and Deals
The deals tend to change each year, so pop into local bakeries to see if they are offering any freebies or discounts in honor of National Cake Day. The Cheesecake Factory, Boston Market, Mrs. Fields and Baked by Melissa are just a few of the companies who have given discounts in conjunction with past cake days. Check them out!