Cake Decorating

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About

cake decorating, the art of making cakes attractive with sugar icing, gilding, and other materials, came into its own in the late 1800s, due largely to new technology and societal changes. Decorative confections originated from Renaissance trionfi di tavola, sugar sculptures made to adorn feasts of the wealthy. These sculptures survived alongside ornate cakes on affluent dinner tables into the early 1800s and are used for commercial purposes to this day. See sugar sculpture. However, over the course of the nineteenth century, the growth of a large middle class in Europe and America, along with more reliable ovens and affordable ingredients, led to standardized cake recipes. Some special cakes, such as those made in England for weddings and Twelfth Night, were decorated with sugar paste figures from the late eighteenth century onward. See twelfth night cake; wedding; and wedding cake. It was not long before the cakes’ appearance became as important as their taste, as evidenced by the chromolithographs of decorated cakes in the 1892 edition of Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management. See beeton, isabella.