Small Cakes in the Gilded Age

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About
Toward the end of the nineteenth century, French cooking became fashionable among the American middle classes. Besides bringing many new dishes into the American repertory, the French cooking vogue ushered in new meal styles, as well as new styles of serving and presenting foods. Among the new serving notions was the doily-covered silver or china platter holding a tempting assortment of individual pastries, cookies, and small cakes. Such platters were set out for the final dessert course at dinners à la russe, at ladies’ luncheons and teas, and at parties. It was primarily to fill such platters that, between roughly 1885 and 1915, American women created a new generation of small cakes.