Cake is obtained from a chemically leavened batter that results in a spongy and airy texture. There are thousands of cake recipes and variations, but there are some consistencies in defining cake. Cakes are typically circle in shape, however many cakes are also rectangular, or cut into specific shapes in order to be decorated. Cake is almost always sweet, which differentiates cake products from bread, which is typically not sweet. Additionally, cake is often made from a batter, which is much more liquid than dough. Cakes are often named based on their primary ingredients, such as butter cakes, or their shapes, such as Bundt cakes and layer cakes.

Cakes have a long history that starts with cheesecakes in ancient Greece. Cheesecake in Greece resembled more of a modern day pie, but it is the first mention of a type of cake. These types of disk-shaped cakes were often made as offerings to the gods. The romans continued this practice, and also introduced fruitcake. These dense cakes became popular during the rule of the Roman Empire. Early cakes such as these were more like what is called bread in modern day. This is especially true because any leavening would have been done with yeast. A key distinction between cakes and bread from the Romans and during the dark ages is that cakes were sweet and round, while bread could be many shapes, and was often savory and larger.

In the renaissance, Spain introduced a type of sponge cake by whipping egg whites. This was a substantially lighter and airier form of cake than had been previously known. However, this process was time intensive and difficult. The industrial revolution changed this by introducing chemical leavener to the baking industry. With the addition of baking powder and baking soda, cake baking became simplified and brought into the common household.

Cakes are typically made with some combination of flour, eggs, butter or oil, leavening, salt, and sugar. There are literally thousands of variations on this including additions of ingredients such as fruit, nuts, and spices. Cake is commonly used as a celebration for birthdays and weddings in the United States. These sorts of cakes are often decorated with icing and fresh fruits, as well as sprinkles and candies.

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  1. Emmanuel November 11, 2016 at 1:09 am - Reply

    Hello, i need your help. We bake cupcake in our company and the shelf life used to be 4 weeks.

    We recently moved to a newer and bigger bakery and we started having mould spoilage. We discovered a source of the mould outside the new bakery and we cleaned up the source, the new bakery, packaging machines etc but we keep having spoilage on cakes produced within 10 days to 14 days.

    We used a combination of Potassium sorbate, sorbic acid and calcium propionate as our preservatives with our batter pH ranging from 6.4 to 6.65. There was never a change in our recipe.

    Please, what can we do to stop this mould spoilage? I will appreciate your quick response.


    • Lin Carson, PhD
      Lin Carson, PhD January 22, 2017 at 4:58 am - Reply

      You are using all the methods typical of a bakery. Removing the source of mold is a big help.You can make sure you bake the cake a little more to reduce the moisture in the cake and/or cool the cake more, so that there is no condensate left in the packaging. Whatever it is, try to reduce as much moisture as possible. You can also try solutions from our mold inhibitor page.

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