'Cakes have been baked and decorated for several thousand years, initially to appease angry gods and then as a celebration of special occasions.
Cake decorating lets you combine your cookery and artistic skills to serve-up something that is also fun to make.
Today we usually serve specially decorated cakes to help celebrate a special occasion, like weddings, christenings, engagements or birthdays. Christmas cakes also have a long tradition and can be traced back to the twelfth century when they were called Twelfth Night cakes. But the cake with the longest history is the wedding cake, which can be traced back to Roman times. It was a tradition brought to Britain by Julius Caesar in 54 BC. These wedding cakes were not iced and ended-up being crumbled over the bride's head to bring good luck and encourage fertility.
A moulded almond paste was used on cakes during the reign of Elizabeth 1. Wedding cakes were still being baked as small separate cakes, brought to the wedding by guests who piled them up before the new husband and wife. If they could kiss over the top of the cakes this would also bring prosperity and many children.
When Charles II returned to England from France he brought with him a love of French cooking ... and several French pastry chefs. Soon the great chefs of Europe were competing to create fantasic cake decorations, every chef trying to make a cake fit for the king's table.
20th Century and beyond
Royal icing became the preferred icing for cakes in Britain, but in Australia chefs and cooks were more likely to cover a rich fruit cake with marzipan and then rolled fondant icing (sugar paste).
Now imagination and practice can see that anything is possible. In recent years cupcakes topped with icing, frosting, toppings, glazes and last but not least decorations have seen a further refinement of this continuning development ... and big or small, these decorated cakes look good as well as being good to eat.
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