You can’t spend all your time figuring out how to deal with your student loan debt. Sometimes you just have to eat cake. Especially today, because it’s National Cake Day. So you go ahead and nibble away at that sweet, fluffy slice of sugar, flour, butter, and eggs while we take a cake walk.
It’s a little hard to pin down exactly when cake was invented. The ancient Egyptians had honey sweetened dessert breads, though they would be unrecognizable at birthday parties today. They were flat and hard and made with a variety of grains and added ingredients like fruit, seeds, and even wine. Most likely, there were no candles.
The Romans may have perfected the practice of making cake by introducing yeast. Adding air to the dough gave a light, delicate texture to the sweetness. In the 16th century, Italians developed leavening by whipping eggs into the batter. In the final major bend along the arc of cake history, Eben Norton Horsford created and patented the first modern baking powder at Harvard University in the mid-1800s. Though ten years earlier, Alfred Bird of England concocted a less stable version of baking powder (and should be awarded a consolation cake.)
Baking powder made the whole procedure easier to manage since you didn’t need to be a master baker. Soon, you only had to buy a box of cake mix from Betty Crocker. Actually, that’s untrue. There never was a Betty Crocker to buy from. She was herself an invention of American advertising, a General Mills campaign that became wildly successful, with “Betty” becoming the Dear Abby of baking. She has remained an ageless 32 since her creation in 1921.
Some Frosting for that Cake? Or Icing?
First off, you probably already knew the difference between frosting and icing. Frosting is stiffer because of, usually, cream or butter, and can be used for decoration. Icing is more of a sugary glaze that hardens as it cools. It is thinner and more brittle.
Neither the Egyptians or Romans knew the joy of frosting. According to one account, icing was invented in 1494, slathering marchpanes with a thick, super-sweet paste. Frosting had two purposes: taste, of course, but also as an architectural feature since it both decorates and holds a layered cake together. The first wedding cakes appeared in the nuptial ceremonies of the rich. By the late 1800s, though, the practice of ornately decorating cakes for getting hitched spread to the masses.
A big question remains: Can you have your cake and eat it, too? The answer to that question is more questions: How long do you want to keep a cake around for and not eat it? It’s National Cake Day, right? So stop worrying for a moment about your student loan debt—go ahead and Cut the Cake.