A Comprehensive History of Customized Cakes in Manila, Philippines and the World

Customized cakes in Manila, or in the Philippines for that matter, has been around ever since the moment that the Filipino masses were able to request for a more specific design for their cake. However, the term “Cake” that is commonly used today is something that has a longstanding history. The term’s etymology is believed to be of Viking origin from the old Norse term kaka which denotes a baked flour confection sweetened with sugar or honey; it is typically mixed with eggs, however, the incorporation of milk and fat is not always necessary.

One defining feature of a cake is its porous texture that comes from the rising of the mixture while it is being cooked and/or baked. For the people that are well versed in the history and nature of cake-making and baking, for that matter, it is no surprise for them whenever the distinction between cake and bread, biscuits and buns approaches a blurred middle line. Of course, the progenitor of all is the simplest forms of bread. However, as the techniques and innovations for baking and leavening arrived at its peak, the ones originally known as just “forms” of a simple bread came to be regarded as categories of their own, and they were named accordingly.


European Bread

A great example for the evolution of cakes mentioned above is a specific form of Roman bread that was enriched with eggs and butter achieved a consistency that was regarded as not “bread-like” which made it approach the blurred line between cake and bread. European and other countries such as North America that have adequate European influence have always been known to be the center of cakes and bread. If one would delve a little deeper, one might conclude that the center for cakes and bread are countries that regard English as their first language. One such reason why people might think like this is that the term “cake” has no other counterparts in other languages. It solely exists in the English vocabulary in its own league. Even if Europe or any other English-speaking country is regarded as the “center” of cakes and bread, creations such as the European gateau and torte are known for their much higher proportion of butter, enriching ingredients like chocolate, and eggs. This gateau and torte are often known to lean more towards being pastry rather than being a cake.


Asian Cakes

Even though the western tradition of cakes was so widespread, it was not enough for it to reach the ears and hearts of the Asian cake makers. However, it’s appeal was not completely ignored to the point that a minuscule amount of its influence reached some of the Asian countries – including the Philippines. One primary example would be Japan’s small sponge cakes better known as kasutera. This is all due to Japan’s one and only prefecture that was open to trading, Nagasaki, accepting trades from the Portuguese. They introduced the “Castella” or as the Japanese pronounce/call it, kasutera, to the Japanese people. Over time, this humble little cake that made its way throughout Japan and adapted to the taste and preferences of the Japanese people. However, there will always be a distinct difference from the food products called “cakes” in the west and the “cakes” of the Asian countries. The best example for this is how the moon cakes, rice cakes, and modern, customized cakes of Manila, Philippines differ significantly from what the west knows about “cakes”.


Different Cakes and Bread Across the World

As you have probably noticed from the earlier parts of this post, the history of cakes goes back a long way. Throughout the world’s history, there have been many incarnations of what term now as “cakes”. Different locations call for a different set of ingredients because not all the ingredients that could be found in a specific country could be made available in another. This means that the “original” or “traditional” recipe for a cake has changed in accordance to what was available to the people at a certain point and location. Here are some examples of how cakes differed throughout history depending on the location:


  • Swiss Cakes – In the past, settlers in Swiss lake villages produced crude versions of cakes that we primarily made from crushed grains that were moistened, compacted, and cooked on a hot stone. This would be regarded as one of the predecessors of European bakes products due to its form closely relating to unleavened bread. Some modern examples of these “cakes” are what is known today as oatcakes. However, oatcakes sometimes regarded as biscuits due to their close relation to the said baked product due to their flat, thin, and brittle nature.
  • Egyptian Cakes – Ancient Egypt is one of the first cultures to show proof or evidence of their exceptional mastery of baking due to numerous innovative products that they came up with during the fame of baking in this time period. One primary example of how Ancient Egypt forever made their mark in the baking industry is their incorporation of honey with many of their bread in order to integrate a sweeter and thereby more delicious side to their baked products.
  • Greek and Roman Cakes – Of course, while detailing the history of cakes we could not ignore two of the most famous civilizations in the history of our world. The Roman civilization had produced a cake that closely resembles what we modern people regard as the “cheesecake”. During the Roman period, the term used to denote cakes were derived from the Greek word “placenta”. They were also called “libum” by the Romans and were primarily used as an offering to their gods. Placenta was more like a cheesecake, baked on a pastry base, or sometimes inside a pastry case.

Meanwhile, the Greek civilization were the ones that are believed to have developed the earliest versions of fruitcakes through their incorporation of raisins, nuts, and other fruits into their baked products. It is recorded that immense versions of these types of cakes were made for very special occasions. A recorded recipe used 13 kilograms of flour along with a proportional amount of butter, spices, currants, cream, eggs, and lastly, honey. Other cakes that were known to be made by the Greeks were called “plakous” from the word for “flat.”  These cakes were commonly known for them being a combination of nuts and honey.  They also had a cake called “satura,” which was a flat heavy cake which was produced in any occasion.


Different Tools Used in the History of Cakes

With the continuous movement towards progress and innovation, the primeval way of baking desperately needed an improvement. So, during the mid-17th century, molds that were in the form of circular hoops were used to shape cakes while also using pans in order to perfectly lay the foundation of a nicely molded, stable cake. During this time, the common trend or culture for eating cakes was to pair it with a glass of sweetened wine or tea. Additionally, during special occasions that gathered numerous amount of high-profile people, cakes that had elaborate and intricate designs were made by bakers for their clients not for consumption, but for design or decoration. Lastly, it was also during this time that the French started incorporating an additional course to their meals. This was the start of the desert where people consumed “sweet” products at the end of their meals. While the French developed this happened, it is safe to assume that they might have included their “gateau” in their “sweet” course.

By the middle of the 18th century, yeast was steadily losing sales because the use of beaten eggs as raising agents for cakes was slowly becoming accepted as a much more viable and more versatile method to raising the cake. Eventually, yeast entered a period of disuse by bakers and cake makers, making beaten eggs the number one raising agent during the 18th century. This is because once enough air was beaten in the batter or mixture, the baker would then proceed to pour the batter into the mold that would often result to elaborate and exquisite creation. However, bakers also used a simple two tin hoop to make their cakes that were set on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Historically, it was from these cake hoops that the modern cake pans were modeled and designed after.

Moving on to the 19th century, numerous technological advances made the baker’s and cake maker’s lives a whole lot easier. The introduction of the chemical raising agent, bicarbonate of soda, during the 1840’s which was then followed by the invention of the baking powder – dry mixture of bicarbonate of soda and mild acid) eventually replace yeast. This leads to a much more powerful leavening agent while requiring less effort from the baker or cake maker.

Baking utensils and directions have been through a constant refinement by undergoing a trial by fire over the long course of its history which is why they have been perfected and simplified that even an amateur or beginner cook may easily create a delicious and sumptuous cake and eventually become an expert baker.


The Modern Day Cake

In the majority of Northwestern Europe and North America, a skillfully developed tradition of home baking – families bake their own products through the use of different, readily available appliances in order to bond, enjoy, and create something wonderful with their loved ones has survived the test of time. Gone are the days wherein cakes and other baked goods were only produced by professional bakers and cake makers. This is the era wherein most of these baked goods can be made right in the comfort of a loving family and a warm home. By having a wide plethora of cake recipes developed over the years by renowned bakers and cake makers, professionally made cakes and other baked goods could be done at home. During the early to middle of the 20th century, the capability to create or bake a delicious and exquisite cake was a skill that were prized by many men during this time where patriarchy was a norm and women were only believed to be good as “housewives” because the “housewife’s” capability to create, design, and present a great cake was a simple yet heartwarming food to be offered to guests which implied that the household had abundance in wealth and hospitality.

Although the popularity of home baking and the role of cakes in the diet have both changed during the 20th century, cakes remain almost ubiquitous in the western world. They have kept their image as ‘treats’ and maintain their ceremonial importance at weddings and birthdays.

Obviously, today we now have a different set of tools, appliances, and new ingredients that were not available in the past which makes the process of baking or creating a cake a much more desired profession among like-minded individuals. Customized cakes here in Manila or Philippines as a whole was not left by time and our cake making innovations are world-class.


Why Canvas Cake Studio is Manila’s Premier Customized Cake Maker 

Being a home based, customized or personalized cake maker, Canvas Cake Studio has serviced numerous clients with our top-notch cakes with personalized designs that are fitted with any of our client’s taste and preferences.


With our studio almost reaching a decade now for quality service and excellent craftsmanship, Canvas Cake Studio is a sought after customized cake maker in Manila, Philippines because whatever design or preference a client has, with enough time, our studio can make your dream cake into reality. Our mission is to provide the best custom-made pastry experience for our customers through perfectly designed, exceptionally tasting baked products. One of the primary factors why we’ve been in the pastry industry for so long is to be able to see our customers’ smiling faces whenever they see or eat our creations because the best result for our products is not perfection, but the ability to put a smile on any person’s face.


From birthday cakes, wedding cakes, cupcakes, or just about any cake for any occasion, Canvas Cake Studio is dedicated to bringing about your dream cake through the efforts of our team members that have a passion to bring about the most beautiful, most delicious cakes available to the Philippine market. We can customize pastries such as cakes, cupcakes, cookies, etc. with the design that you need with the most reasonable price. As artist-bakers, we make sure that our work is always done with the utmost quality in terms of both taste, design (beauty), and intricacy.


Interested? Allow us to give you the best personalized cake you’ll ever experience! You can contact us here!

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