Birthdays are a special occasion for everyone across the globe. What is not to love about them? You get to eat delicious cakes, receive exciting gifts, throw a party and dance your heart out and whatnot. They allow you to reunite with your near and dear ones. The moment of blowing the candles is often captured on a camera, and the smile on that special person’s face, who receives the first bite of the cake is precious. However, have you ever wondered what started this tradition and how has it evolved over the years? Read on to know more.
- The origin
- The Romans
- The difference between ancient and contemporary cakes.
- The Industrial Revolution
- The introduction of contemporary cakes in India.
1. The origin
As you would know already, cutting a cake on birthdays is a Western custom. Historians believe that it dates back to the Ancient Greek civilization when people mixed bread with honey and nuts on such occasions. They called it “plakous”, which means “flat”. They also prepared “satura” which were flat, dense and round shaped cakes to offer to moon Goddess Artemis. This connection with the moon Goddess inspired them to use candles to make the cake glow like the moon.
2. The Romans
Later, this tradition was carried forward by the Romans. Now, the cake was known as “placenta”, which very evidently was derived from the Greek word “plakous”. However, they added their twist to the recipe. They introduced cheesecakes with a pastry base.
Romans were full of life and celebrated three types of birthdays –
A private ceremony with their circle of close people
A birthday of cities and temples
A royal occasion which marked the birth event of imperial family members.
Wait, that’s not all! Romans went all the way on their 50th birthday. They prepared a cake with honey, grated cheese, wheat flour and olive oil for the celebration. We bet that your mouth is watering already. But hold on because the contemporary cakes are yet to come.
3. The difference between ancient and contemporary cakes
It is safe to say that the ancient cakes were not even close to the mouth-watering cakes we devour today. These cakes contained cereal grain meal softened with wine or water and a form of yeast. Honey was the only sweet ingredient used in these cakes. These cakes were pretty similar to bread. ‘
In medieval England, these cakes were called “pastry” and a fun element was added to them. Different objects like coins were hidden in the batter, and if you happen to come across them while relishing the wholesome goodness of the cake, you would hopefully get immense wealth in future. Sounds interesting, right?
The word “cake” as we know it today is derived from the Old Norse word “Kaka”. The contemporary cakes date back to the 16th century and were first prepared in France and Italy. Their batter was based on egg and sugar foam. This art spread across the European continent like wildfire, and the chefs globally added their touch to the recipes.
4. The Industrial Revolution
In the 18th century, came the age of mercantilism. The contact between people increased manifold, and there was a constant movement of traders to and fro. Along with goods, spread the tradition of cakes and birthdays.
The Industrial Revolution enhanced the availability of certain food items which were no longer confined to the royalty. Ingredients like nuts, lemons, chocolates, orange, vanilla and sugar were added to the cakes in this era. Finally, baking powder became available in the 19th century. It led to mass production and overhauled the world of cake baking.
5. The introduction of the contemporary cakes in India
Initially, the flavoursome cakes were confined to only the British rulers of the country. They produced them in West Bengal. Later, Mambally Bapu became our saviour dressed in an apron and founded the Royal Biscuit Factory in 1880 in Thalaserry, Kerala. This factory started producing cakes in 1883, and their popularity caught on amongst Indians in no time.
The bottom line
We are sure that after going down the lanes of history you will realize that the cake on your birthday has gone through a host of changes throughout the past. The story of why we cut a cake on our birthday and everyone sings “Happy Birthday” in joyful glee as we blow the candles is intriguing.
We can thank the present for not only making the cakes more irresistible but also for providing easy options like only deliveries. We no longer need to go through insurmountable trouble just to enjoy a slice of cake. So, what are you waiting for? After quenching your thirst for knowledge, satisfy your craving for a delightful cake with Cake Buzz.