Cakes in the Ancient World

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

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Ancient cakes—made from bread dough or similarly dense mixtures; sweetened with honey; enriched with eggs, fresh cheese, or oil; and flavored with nuts, dried fruits, herbs, and seeds—likely evolved from early breads. They are thought to have been made with rye, barley, and oat flours as well as wheat flour. Sumerian texts from some 4,000 years ago mention these sorts of baked goods, and Cato describes a similar kind of cake in De Agri Cultura (second century b.c.e) that was wrapped in leaves before baking and served at weddings and fertility rites. See ancient world.