Cake is a form of food that is usually sweet and often baked Baking . Cakes normally combine some kind of flour, a sweetening agent sweetener (commonly sugar sucrose ), a binding agent (generally egg Egg (food) , though gluten or starch are often used by lacto-vegetarians Vegetarianism and vegan Veganism s), fats (usually butter, shortening, or margarine, although a fruit purée such as applesauce Apple sauce is sometimes substituted to avoid using fat), a liquid (milk, water or fruit juice Juice ), flavors Seasoning and some form of leavening agent (such as yeast or baking powder), though many cakes lack these ingredients and instead rely on air bubbles in the dough to expand and cause the cake to rise. Cake is often frosted Icing (food) with buttercream or marzipan, and finished with piped borders and crystallized fruit Candied fruit .
Cake is often the dessert of choice for meals at ceremonial occasions, particularly weddings, anniversaries Anniversary , and birthdays. There are countless cake recipes; some are bread-like, some rich and elaborate and many are centuries old. Cake making is no longer a complicated procedure; while at one time considerable labor went into cake making (particularly the whisking of egg foams), baking equipment and directions have been simplified that even the most amateur cook may bake a cake.
Cakes are broadly divided into several categories, based primarily on ingredients and cooking techniques.
*Yeast cakes are the oldest, and are very similar to yeast breads. Such cakes are often very traditional in form, and include such pastries as babka and stollen.
*Cheesecakes use mostly some form of cheese (often cream cheese, mascarpone, ricotta or the like), and have very little to no flour component (though it sometimes appears in the form of a (often sweetened) crust). Cheesecakes are also very old, with evidence of honey-sweetened cakes dating back to ancient Greece.
*Sponge cakes are thought to be the first of the non-yeast-based cakes and rely primarily on trapped air in a protein matrix (generally of beaten eggs) to provide leavening, sometimes with a bit of baking powder or other chemical leaven added as insurance. Such cakes include the Italian/Jewish pan di Spagna and the French Génoise Génoise cake . Highly decorated sponge cakes with lavish toppings are sometimes called gateau, after the French word for cake.
*Butter cakes, including the pound cake and devil's food cake, rely on the combination of butter, eggs, and sometimes baking powder to provide both lift and a moist texture.
*Ruske Kape-these are round, coconut and chocolate-flavored cakes originating in the Balkan region specifically Bosnia and Serbia.
Beyond these classifications, cakes can be classified based on their appropriate accompaniment (such as coffee cake) and contents (e.g. fruitcake or flourless chocolate cake).
Some varieties of cake are widely available in the form of cake mixes, wherein some of the ingredients (usually flour, sugar, flavoring, baking powder, and sometimes some form of fat) are premixed, and the cook needs add only a few extra ingredients, usually eggs, water, and sometimes vegetable oil or butter. While the diversity of represented styles is limited, cake mixes do provide an easy and readily available homemade option for cooks who are not accomplished bakers.Cakes may be classified according to the occasion for which they are intended. For example, wedding cakes, birthday cakes, and Passover plava (a type of Jewish sponge cake sometimes made with matzo meal) are all identified primarily according to the celebration they are intended to accompany. The cutting of a wedding cake constitutes a social ceremony in some cultures. The Ancient Roman marriage ritual of confarreatio originated in the sharing of a cake.
Particular types of cake may be associated with particular festivals, such as stollen (at Christmas), babka and simnel cake (at Easter), or mooncake.Cakes are frequently described according to their physical form. Cakes may be small and intended for individual consumption. Larger cakes may be made with the intention of being sliced and served as part of a meal or social function. Common shapes include:
* Layer cakes, frequently baked in a Springform pan and decorated
* Sheet cakes, simple, flat, rectangular cakes baked in sheet pans
* Cupcakes and madeleine Madeleine (cake) s, which are both sized for a single person
* Bundt cakes
* Swiss roll cakesSpecial 'cake flour' with a high starch-to-gluten ratio is made from fine-textured, soft, low-protein wheat. It is strongly bleached, and compared to all-purpose flour, cake flour tends to result in cakes with a lighter, less dense texture. Therefore, it is frequently specified or preferred in cakes meant to be soft, light, and or bright white, such as angel food cake. However, cake flour is generally not considered mandatory for good results, and its effect on the cake's texture can readily be simulated by adding corn starch and/or baking soda to all-purpose flour. Some recipes explicitly specify or permit all-purpose flour, notably where a firmer or denser cake texture is desired..
A finished cake is often enhanced by covering it with icing icing (food) , or frosting, and toppings such as sprinkles, which are also known as "jimmies" in certain parts of the United States and "hundreds and thousands" in the United Kingdom. Frosting is usually made from powdered (icing) sugar, sometimes a fat of some sort, milk or cream, and often flavorings such as vanilla extract vanilla or cocoa powder Chocolate . Some decorators use a rolled fondant icing. Commercial bakeries tend to use lard for the fat, and often whip the lard to introduce air bubbles. This makes the icing light and spreadable. Home bakers either use lard, butter, margarine or some combination thereof. Sprinkles are small firm pieces of sugar and oils that are colored with food coloring. In the late 20th century, new cake decorating products became available to the public. These include several specialized sprinkles and even methods to print pictures and transfer the image onto a cake.
Special tools are needed for more complex cake decorating, such as piping bags or syringes, and various piping tips. To use a piping bag or syringe, a piping tip is attached to the bag or syringe using a coupler. The bag or syringe is partially filled with icing which is sometimes colored. Using different piping tips and various techniques, a cake decorator can make many different designs. Basic decorating tips include open star, closed star, basketweave, round, drop flower, leaf, multi, petal, and specialty tips.
Royal icing, marzipan (or a less sweet version, known as almond paste), fondant icing
(also known as sugarpaste) and buttercream are used as covering icings and to create decorations. Floral sugarcraft or wired sugar flowers are an important part of cake decoration. Cakes for special occasions, such as wedding cakes, are traditionally rich fruit cakes or occasionally Madeira cakes (also known as whisked or fatless sponge), that are covered with marzipan and either iced using royal icing or sugarpaste. They are finished with piped borders (made with royal icing) and adorned with a piped message, wired sugar flowers, hand-formed fondant flowers, marzipan fruit, piped flowers, or crystallized fruits or flowers such as grapes or violets Viola (plant) .Although clear examples of the difference between cake and bread are easy to find, the precise classification has always been elusive. For example, banana bread may be properly considered either a quick bread or a cake.
In ancient Rome, basic bread dough was sometimes enriched with butter, eggs, and honey, which produced a sweet and cake-like baked good.
Early cakes in England were also essentially bread: the most obvious differences between a "cake" and "bread" were the round, flat shape of the cakes, and the cooking method, which turned cakes over once while cooking, while bread was left upright throughout the baking process.
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