Discover baking trends throughout the ages as Stork lists the most popular celebration cakes...
We’ve celebrated with candle-adorned cakes since around the 1700s, when Kinderfesten birthday celebrations for children became popular in Germany. Families added a candle for each year of their lives plus extra candles for the years to come. However, the phrase ‘Happy Birthday’ has only been fashionable for a little over 100 years when the famous song became popular. To celebrate Stork's big birthday and our fabulous new Stork with butter products we’ve gone all nostalgic and been remembering some of our favourite creations from over the years. How many of these bakes do you remember? And more importantly, how many have you baked?
Victoria sponge cakes
When baking powder was introduced in the 1900s the style of cakes changed from dense, yeast-based cakes to the style we’re more familiar with today, made with flour, eggs, a raising agent and fat. Through the 20th century classic sponge cakes were the go-to birthday celebration cake, filled with jam and cream and sprinkled with sugar. They’ve never gone out of fashion, and, why would they?
Quick to bake, assemble and decorate and pretty much fool-proof in their method as long as you start with the right ingredients – Britain’s number one baking spread Stork has classically been used as the ‘fat’ in the recipe for decades, due to its light and fluffy results.
Devil's food cakes
So called because they’re supposedly so rich & delicious that it must be sinful to eat them, this term came over from America and heralded the advent of a decade of chocolate fudge cakes. Suddenly light and fluffy, gave way to something more sticky and rich, often made using the melting method like a brownie, so soft spreadable Stork margarine was swapped for Stork for biscuits and pastry. In the 70s we enjoyed Black Forest gateaux – the ultimate in birthday cake sophistication at the time, which gave way to the chocolate fudge cake in the late 90s and 2000s. Even now the origins of this bake have led to another trend - the Red velvet cake – where the classic Devil cake base has been transformed with some food colouring or beet juice.
When a second use was invented for that Christmas pudding basin that hides in the back of the cupboard – who knew how popular these cakes would become? We’d be surprised if there is a little girl out there who didn’t have to sacrifice one of her Barbies at some point. We’re not talking about the popular Swedish, marzipan-topped cake, but the 80s classic where a simple bowl-shaped sponge could be topped with a leg-less doll, smothered in bright pink icing plus as many silver and pink sprinkles as you could get your hands on, and turned into a princess fit for a little princess.
With a deep cake like this, baked in a ceramic bowl rather than a metal tin, it’s a struggle to get a nice light sponge so soft Stork is a must – and even though you can start whisking it straight from the fridge, don’t skimp. A little extra beating (until your sugary mixture becomes really, really pale) will mean the margarine holds even more air for extra lightness – then an extra pinch of rising agent, and voila! No heavy ‘bottom’ for Barbie.
We just couldn’t resist including this friendly little fella. Homemade versions were popular in the early 80s – when desiccated coconut and grassy green colouring must have flown off the supermarket shelves. Before the advent of the Great British Bake Off though, there was a time when not everyone was obsessed with cake-making and supermarkets jumped on the latest fast-food must-have – takeaway birthday cakes decorated with a variety of colourful characters. Caterpillar cakes have not only stood the test of time, but spanned the ages, and, after developing a cult following make appearances from first birthdays through to grown-up soirees. Who’s not sampled a slice of a caterpillar at a hastily organised office birthday celebration?
Cupcakes are still cute
The popularity of these luxurious (well, they’re the perfect vessel to pile on as much as icing as you can, right?!) little treats can date back to the 1950s and 60s in America where, quick to bake and quick to decorate they become associated with the ideal homemaker. Over the pond, we caught on a little later but our love for cupcakes has still been going strong for a good decade now. As pixie-sized as they are, they can be a little less
impressive than a large celebration cake. But, if you’re rushed for time they’re the perfect solution – both baking, and cooling, much quicker than bigger sponges. If you get your bake on with straight-from-the-fridge Stork you could feasibly have a pile of beautifully decorated, hand-held gems ready in an hour, from scales to piping bag.
The boho look fast became the style of 2014, after Great British Bake Off winner Frances Quinn made famous the naked cake in the 2013 final. It’s relaxed and natural looking, and particularly appealing to beginner bakers who can create something stunning with limited decorating skills. Without a lot of icing to hide any sins the sponge is key though, so combining golden caster sugar, good quality eggs and Stork with butter will give your cakes a good golden hue – plus a boost of buttery flavour (important when there’s only a smear of buttercream to stick the sponges together). Try making ascending sizes of this forest fruit cake then simply stack and add extra berries with fresh flowers to nail the style.
Ooh la la it's ombre
Sky-high layer cakes were all the rage a few years ago, but after our shift to all things natural, they’re now back with a bang – with the help of a little colour update. You might have out-grown your ombre locks, but they’re now bang on trend in the baking world. Graduate both your sponges and icing in a shade from light to dark, then stack and serve. To get your colours as vibrant and as accurate as possible, use pale ingredients and artifical food colouring. Paler fats like classic Stork margarine or continental butters, egg whites and white sugars will all help you achieve the truest colour possible. Currently celebration cake focused, we think soon you’ll be spotting this idea in macarons, cheesecakes and even eclairs. Basically if you can bake it, you can ombre it!
From funfetti – when the sponge is speckled with sprinkles, to piñata cakes stuffed with hidden sweets, this year it’s not only the outside that counts. You can even buy special piñata cake tins now, so no sponge is wasted – although we never mind nibbling trimmings. In fact when GBBO 2010 runner up Ruth Clemens created a birthday cake for Mary Berry’s 80th this year it included a Pinata layer filled with chocolates. Just remember a funfetti cake must be filled with artificially coloured, not natural sprinkles or the colours will fade during baking and the surprise might be ruined.
We scream for buttercream!
In the search for something unique it looks like 2015 might finally break the trend of the last two decades of super-smooth, fondant finished celebration cakes, with the comeback of buttercream. With more versatility in colour and flavour it’s no wonder, plus we miss all that finger-licking goodness we’ve become used to from icing-drenched cupcakes. It began with the ombre, and it’s continuing as people experiment, getting different finishes with piping nozzles. From a basket weave look to roses, the rise of free online tutorials means it’s easy for the home cook to master a new technique. With only two ingredients in its most simple form, it’s important to use something with a good buttery flavour, but not too much saltiness. Butter can be too heavy, so try Stork with butter, which unlike butter can be used straight from the fridge – easy peasy!
So what will you be baking for your next birthday celebration? Whether you decide to go traditional or experimental, make sure every cake’s a winner.