Monday, April 20, 2015

A Pyramid of Cakes

Layer cakes became very popular in the 1870s and continued for a century. They featured different colors, flavors, and even a variety of fillings on each layer.  An early description from 1839 is for a special occasion cake - tiered like our wedding cakes.  In 1907 an entire book  One Hundred and One Layer Cakes by May Southworth was published.

I was fortunate to write two entries on cakes - Layer Cakes and Sponge Cakes - for the new Oxford Encyclopedia of Sweets and Sugar. HERE.  It was fun going through many hundreds of books online and at the Library of Congress, even through the last quarter of the 19th century (which I don't often visit) when a huge variety of cakes were created.

Over the years, I have posted many cake recipes, and one autumn posted several during my research for the Oxford entries ( Lady Baltimore, Chiffon Cake and Cakes links in general). In the future I plan to add more cake posts, next week will be on Angel Food Cake.

The Kentucky Housewife has so many interesting recipes.  The layer cake - nicely called a pyramid - uses pound cake or different types of cakes.  And the crowning top... flowers, real or artificial.

A Pyramid of Cakes 1839
A pyramid of cake is introduced only at the finest suppers.  Make them all of common poundcake, or have every cake of a different quality, if you choose.  The pans in which they are baked should all be of a circular form, gradually diminishing in circumference, from the largest to the smallest size.  Ice them very white, and when they get about half dry, put round each a decorament of devices and borders in white sugar, or a very delicate garland or festoon.  When the icing gets perfectly dry, stack them regularly, putting the largest at the bottom, and the smallest on the top, and stick a small bunch of real or artificial flowers on the pinnacle, or top cake.
Bryan, Lettice.  The Kentucky Housewife.  Cincinnati: 1839

©2015 Patricia Bixler Reber
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