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The Evolution of Cake Design 1700 - 2023

Updated: Sep 3, 2023

Cake design has come a long way since the 1700s, with new techniques and trends emerging over the centuries. From simple fruit cakes to elaborate wedding cakes, the evolution of cake design has been a fascinating journey. In this article, we will explore the evolution of cake design from the 1700s to the present day.


Pink cake with icing flowers on white background

1700s - The Beginning of Cake Design

In the 1700s, cakes were often simple fruit cakes, made with dried fruit and nuts. These cakes were often baked for special occasions such as weddings and birthdays, and were decorated with simple designs made from sugar or marzipan. The designs were often inspired by nature, with flowers and fruits being popular motifs.


1800s - The Rise of Decorative Cakes

The 1800s saw the rise of decorative cakes, with bakers experimenting with new techniques and ingredients. One of the most significant developments was the use of baking powder, which made cakes lighter and fluffier. This, combined with new decorative techniques, led to the creation of more elaborate cakes.


Wedding cakes became increasingly popular during this time, and bakers began to create multi-tiered cakes, with each tier decorated with intricate designs. The Victorians loved their symbolism, so wedding cakes were often embellished with flowers and other motifs that represented different aspects of the marriage.


Cadbury's chocolate bar cake with popcorn on white background

1900s - The Art of Cake Decorating

The 1900s saw the emergence of cake decorating as an art form, with bakers taking inspiration from the worlds of art and fashion. One of the most influential figures in this era was Rose Levy Beranbaum, who wrote the classic cookbook "The Cake Bible." Her book introduced new techniques and ingredients, such as fondant, which allowed bakers to create more elaborate designs.


During this time, bakers also began to experiment with different shapes and sizes of cakes. Instead of the traditional round shape, they started to create cakes in the shape of objects, such as cars or buildings.


1920s-1930s - The Rise of the American Cake

In the 1920s and 1930s, the American cake became popular, thanks in part to the rise of Hollywood and its influence on popular culture. The American cake was often tall and layered, with brightly colored frosting and bold designs. This style of cake was perfect for celebrations such as birthdays and weddings, and it quickly became a favourite among Americans.


1950s-1960s - The Age of the Television Cake

The 1950s and 1960s saw the rise of the television cake, with shows like "The Galloping Gourmet" and "The French Chef" introducing new techniques and styles to a wide audience. Bakers began to experiment with new flavours, textures, and designs, and the cake became more than just a dessert - it became a work of art.


1970s-1980s - The Birth of the Modern Cake

The 1970s and 1980s saw the birth of the modern cake, with bakers experimenting with new ingredients and techniques. One of the most significant developments was the use of sugar paste, which allowed bakers to create intricate designs and 3D shapes. The cake also became more personalised, with bakers creating cakes to suit the individual tastes and preferences of their customers.



Oreo and Ferrero Rocher cake on white background


1990’s to Today - Designer Cakes

The rise of designer cakes can be attributed to several factors. First, the advancement of technology made it easier for bakers to create intricate designs using advanced tools and equipment. Additionally, the popularity of baking shows on television inspired people to experiment with cake decorating themselves, leading to an increase in interest and demand for designer cakes.


Today, designer cakes have become a staple of celebrations, ranging from elaborate wedding cakes to whimsical children's birthday cakes. Bakers have become more creative, using a variety of techniques such as sugar flowers, fondant, and edible paint to create stunning works of art that are both beautiful and delicious. Social media platforms have also played a major role in the rise of designer cakes, as people share photos of their creations and showcase their skills to a wider audience.


Overall, the rise of designer cakes from the 1990s to the present day has been a remarkable journey. With advances in technology, an increase in interest in baking, and the power of social media, the art of cake decorating has evolved into a true form of creative expression, allowing bakers to create unique, customised cakes that are as beautiful as they are delicious.







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