CAKE Orlando Lovell
CAKE POLITICS AND NOSTALGIA
Layers of Power p.12
#MakeAmericaCakeAgain p.18 Crisis Cake p.22
A Brief History of Taste p.28
The People‘s Bakery p.32
The Atomic Cake Controversy p.36 Japan’s Christmas Cake p.40
THE VISUAL CULTURE OF CAKE
The Wedding Cake p.44
Ornamental Baking p.50
The Rise of Architecture Cakes p.54
SOCIETY THE INDIVIDUAL AND CAKE
System Literacy p.60
The Cycle of Hope and Despair p.78
Cutting the Cake p.70
Giving in to Dangerous Temptation p.88
From Fiction to Formula p.66
A Female Material p.92
Why I believe there is more to cake than initially meets the eye.
The material and idea of cake has a morphological quality that allows it to be discussed in a multitude of narratives, thereby offering much in terms of a diverse dialogue. I feel there is a historical necessity, due to our current upheaval from "the known" into "the fear-laden" and "the unpredictable", to revisit cake as a symbol in our current times. Societies have changed dramatically in the last decades and are continuously doing so. Yet cake, a staple of our traditions, is not changing with them. Or is it?
The symbolism of cake classically encompasses notions of matrimony, celebrations of birthdays and even anniversaries of diplomatic relations. With the impact of globalisation and digitalisation cake is being revived as a symbol of extreme excess, comfort and indulgence, contrasted by ever more food blog followers suppressing urges to eat, as their hunger is vicariously stilled through the screens in front of them. Looking at historical references, ranging from George Orwell to Fyodor Dostoyevsky, cake has functioned as
an iconic social symbol throughout the last centuries and is still mentioned in the media today. Many people are tired of talking about all things bad in the world. Miscommunication, lack of interest, fear and prejudice all feed into our increasing isolation â€“ digital and physical. Yet when a conversation turns to cake, many people light up, thinking of intimate childhood dreams and (guilty) pleasures. Similary, a conversation around cake can tackle nearly any content in a more relaxed manner, as it creates a bond between
those sharing a slice. A revival or rethinking of this powerful concept of cake, with itâ€™s ability to excite a reaction from people, could facilitate it being a new medium for communication. When conversations could be held around cakes of new shapes, sizes, colours or written messages, thereby reshaping symbolic visual triggers, questions such as "Who is cutting the cake and how big is my slice?" can be as innocent or complex as necessary and most importantly acted upon in real life.
CAKE POLITICS AND NOSTALGIA
Free Dictionary Have (one’s) cake and eat it (too).
To have or do two things that one desires which are normally contradictory or impossible to have or do simultaneously. Because “have” can also mean “eat,” this expression may seem redundant. However, it is based on the meaning of “have” as “to possess,” i.e., to maintain possession of one’s cake while still eating it, an obvious oxymoron.
You’re never going to save enough money to buy a house if you keep buying expensive televisions and cars. You can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Too many people want to have their cake and eat it, demanding all sorts of social benefits from the government but unwilling to pay any taxes to fund them. See also: and, cake, eat, have
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Layers of Power
Donâ€™t have your cake and letâ€™s not eat it.
The language revolving around politics is frequently highlighted with references of sweet pastries. From Brexit discussions being about "having your cake and eating it", to the American system being described as a succession of cakes from layer cake to marbled cake, from fruitcake to birthday cake (by Representative Raymond McGrath in 1981). These notions of the division power are oversimplified and laden with emotional and patrarchial connotations through the use of cake as a metaphor.
As old political structures are crumbling under the pressure of a newly connected world, new ideas of and understanding of a political and symbolic context of cake should be addressed. Comparing a political system to cake misguides the public to believe they desire and are entitled to have a slice. This leads to a single-minded approach in which consumption, not contribution is the centre point. As surely no one has ever turned up to a tea part and brought another candle, sprinkle or layer for the cake.
Cake, Politics and Nostalgia
As cakes are to be eaten, consumed, and indulged in, the metaphor does correctly illustrate a misuse and exploitation of the system for the individualâ€™s benefit. But this by no means should be the commonly used model referred to when talking about political systems or other systemic models. In the more recent discussions on Britain leaving the EU, the negotiations have been described as being a â€œhave your cake and eat itâ€? approach. Yet the common media quote of Brexit would perhaps be more accurately illustrated as picking
all the raisins out of a fruitcake and then not eating it at all. As baking a "bigger cake" or "dividing it more evenly" is not an applicable model any more today, with the awareness of decreasing resources and environmental impacts, and alternative scenario that politicians bake a cake from the ingredients the people vote for would be more suitable. Together we can then give each other slices and share it, finding a common ground for exchange and deliberation, rather than childish greed and consumption.
Representative Raymond J. McGrath Taking the Cake
Our government was founded as a layer cake, with strict lines of authority between the Federal Government and the states. Practicality changed the layer cake Federalism into marble cake Federalism, as the national Government merged efforts with the states in areas such as our armed forces. From a marble cake, we have progressed over the past 20 years into a system which many say resembles a fruit cake, with no particular pattern guiding the relationships between the different layers of government. Finally, we have ended up with a birthday cake Federalism, where dozens of special interests make their wishes known and receive presents in the form of Federal assistance. Our Federal birthday cake is too rich and too large. We must reduce its size before it ends up consuming us.
Wikipedia Cake Theory
Cake theory is a metaphor about economic development and the redistribution of wealth in the political discourse of China. It emerged in 2010 as problems with an increased wealth gap became gradually more apparent. If economic development is seen as analogous to baking a cake, one side of the debate suggests that development should focus on ‘dividing the cake more fairly,’ while the other says development should be focused on ‘baking a bigger cake.’
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#MakeAmericaCakeAgain Celebrating the democratic process.
Muster Cakes date back to before the American Revolution. They are a dense, naturally leavened sourdough filled with spices, fruit and alcohol. Originally baked by colonial women to give to men who were summoned for military training, they later on became known as Election Cakes and were baked to encourage men to vote and go to town hall meetings. Back then Election Day was a festive event with plenty of food and alcohol. The Election Cakes were made for masses of people in order to celebrate the democratic process of election. Nowa-
days individual cakes are baked, whereas back then large loaves would have been made in community ovens, the making process being a collective (female) one. A bakery in Asheville, N.C., America picked up the tradition again in 2016 and baked Election Cakes in order to attempt to bring people together across political divides. It seems it will take more than an old colonial cake concept to bridge the current political divide and systemic issues but with a little rethinking, it could have itâ€™s qualities.
Cake, Politics and Nostalgia
Tina Fey Sheet-caking
The next time you see a bunch of white boys in polo shirts screaming about taking our country back and you want to scream “It‘s not our country, we stole it from the Native Americans.”, you should scream into the cake instead.
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What does cake mean to us in times of crisis?
Britain is currently undergoing fundamental struggles and changes. From a strong political divide, to a reported rise in racism, and increasing polarisation between itâ€™s capital, London, and the rest of the country, there is much to tackle. Whilst popular media is increasingly focused on comedy, baking and the glorification of previous eras. The Great British Bake Off is a cultural phenomenon that took off first in the UK in 2010. It is based on bake-off concepts that were first developed in America. The idea of a group of people competing sim-
ply by baking and finding out who makes the best cake is a easily digested format. With bunting, "vintage" aesthetic, traditional cakes, little segments looking back at the British origins, a guardian article deliberates if is just a visual reference culture or also a revolution of dietary rules. Yet underlying all these visual triggers and dietary discussions is a inherent stream of nostalgia, telling people to "keep calm and carry on" and shutting themselves out to alternatives for the future and desperately clinging to the past.
Cake, Politics and Nostalgia
Carey Cooper, professor of psychology and health at Lancaster University, says that nostalgia is the key to the The Great British Bake Off’s success, reminding us of a time when people had the time to bake. He said: “It is about what it means to be British, but that takes us back to nostalgia, we are yearning for a more peaceful, more stable life that this represents. Our life is changing so rapidly that people are just trying to stop that a bit, to slow it down.”
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Cake, Politics and Nostalgia
Mary Poppins A Spoonful of Sugar
In every job that must be done There is an element of fun You find the fun and snap! The jobâ€™s a game And every task you undertake Becomes a piece of cake A lark! A spree! Itâ€™s very clear to see that A Spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down The medicine go down-wown The medicine go down Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down In a most delightful way
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A Brief History Taste
How our dietary ideals are a mirror of our cultural ideals.
Taste is profoundly shaped by cultural, social and psychological factors and a foodstuff that is sacred to one society may be entirely taboo to another. On an individual level, past experiences, idiosyncratic associations, and family or peer preferences can have a profound effect. Whilst changes in perception of the meaning of foods can change dramatically in only one generation. Taste preferences thereby allows us insights into concerns, fears and prejudices of individuals, groups and entire cultures. In ancient Greece, good taste was
the ultimate criteria of good nutrition: our tastebuds told our minds what our bodies need. Hippocrates even said, that in deciding between two foods, choose the one that tastes better over the one that is better for you but more disagreeable. This belief remained until the Renaissance, where sweetened pastries were praised and even considered medicinal (Bartolomeo Platina). Moderation was key but delectable foods were thought beneficial if used wisely. By the late 16th century dietary principles changed radically. With the
Society, the Individual and Cake
apparition of reformations (both Catholic and Protestant) food needed to counter rather than reinforce an individualâ€™s constitution, changing from something to be enjoyed to an enemy that needed to be conquered. Even though there is no eternal punishment for gluttony mentioned, only earthly suffering and illness, in which we still believe today: the bodyâ€™s ailments are a direct physical and mental punishment for our dietary sins. It is our individual responsibility and therefore our very own burden.
I think choosing between men and women is like choosing between cake and ice cream. Youâ€™d be daft not to try both when there are so many different flavors.
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The People’s Bakery
A bakery for the masses with a unifying asset.
Until the mid 20th Century Calcutta was home to a small Jewish population, now the last Jewish bakery Nahoum&Sons is a vestige to the dwindling community, known for their excellent fruitcake. In the 16th to 18th Century West Bengal gained a reputation for a cuisine revolving around spices and dried fruit, under the Mughal Empire. Later Calcutta became the seat of the British colonial rule for two centuries, bringing with it fruitcake. The sweet, sticky cake managed to dislodge itself from the Cristian traditions it was originally steeped in and became a food
freed from religious association and temporal traditions, even after the British rule in India ended. For the bakery Christmas is not a religious festival but a celebration of all people. “We are the people’s bakery – Hindu, Sikh, Muslim, Iranian, Jewish, Chinese – it doesn’t matter”, the bakery’s current proprietor Isaac Nahoum proudly states. “We have been a bakery of the masses while never compromising on quality. The rich and famous and the not-so-rich and famous, they all come here.” The notion that a bakery brings together people from
Society, the Individual and Cake
all backgrounds is a remarkable trait and could be used as a unifying asset also in other cities and countries. Providing cakes would not be laden with religious or ideological symbols and meaning. â€œThe thing with Calcutta is that people here have always been very enterprising about food and so they have always wanted to try new things. We have thrived as the population of the city has increased and changed character,â€? Isaac says.
Sandip Roy A Punch Line in The U.S.
The British are long gone from Calcutta, but they left behind the fruitcake. The West jokes about indestructible fruitcake as the gift that keeps on giving, but Calcutta, the old British capital, embraces it. (â€Ś) Jewish bakeries and Muslim bakers in a predominantly Hindu city, baking Christmas cakes round the clock. You could call it a triumph of capitalism. Or a slice of peace and goodwill for all. With almond icing.
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The Atomic Cake Controversy When cake goes nuclear.
On a Tuesday evening, the 5th of November 1946, to be precise, the Officer’s Club of the Army War College in Washington, D.C. had a celebration to mark the disbanding of the body that organised and oversaw the first post-war atomic tests in the Pacific, the Task Force Number One. From this event a photo was taken, showing the so-called “Atomic Admiral”, Vice Admiral William H.P. Blandly, cutting into rather elaborate reconstruction of an atomic mushroom made entirely out of cake (see following page). The next day
the image appeared as a centerpiece in the Washington Post’s society column, illustrating the affair to have been a grotesquely inappropriate party. A few days later an angry Unitarian minister, Arthur Powell Davies, shared his thoughts: “What fills me with outrage is the fact that such an event could take place at all. (…) They are in the act of cutting what is called an atom-bomb cake. And it is indeed a cake shaped in the form of an atomic explosion. The caption says it is made of Angel food puffs. I do not know how to tell you what I feel about
Cake, Politics and Nostalgia
this picture. (…) No apology would be sufficient to efface what it may mean to the people of the world." Mr. Davies’ words made headlines around the world, giving voice to the disgust many people had obviously been feeling over America’s happy embrace of all things atomic since August 6th 1945. The news coverage resulted in some angry letters to the editors, some even taking the cake theme further: "We could have darling little cakes made in the shape of coffins, and the cutest little crosses pressed of angel puffs. And
a few drops of cherry extract could be you guessed it - drops of blood." Another said: "If we can only learn to go no further with the atomic bomb than making the likeness of its explosion into a cake we shall be all right."
Fyodor Dostoyevsky Notes from the Underground
Now I ask you: what can be expected of man since he is a being endowed with strange qualities? Shower upon him every earthly blessing, drown him in a sea of happiness, so that nothing but bubbles of bliss can be seen on the surface; give him economic prosperity, such that he should have nothing else to do but sleep, eat cakes and busy himself with the continuation of his species, and even then out of sheer ingratitude, sheer spite, man would play you some nasty trick. He would even risk his cakes and would deliberately desire the most fatal rubbish, the most uneconomical absurdity, simply to introduce into all this positive good sense his fatal fantastic element.
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Japan’s Christmas Cake An adopted tradition with no religious connotation.
During Christmastime Japan’s shopping world transforms into a festively decorated landscape of santa displays. A seasonal favourite in Japan is the Christmas cake. At first glance this may not sound strange to any person from a Christian culture. Yet only 1% of Japanese people are Christian. How did they come to celebrate Christmas then? Japanese Christmas cake is a symbol of commercialism and prosperity, it’s story connected to Japan’s recovery from the defeat of the 2nd World War. After the
2nd WW Japan’s economy was in a dire situation and food shortages common. Americans handed out sweet treats to the Japanese people, which became memorable luxuries for those recovering from the war. “The Christmas celebrations gave the Japanese the most tangible pictures that could convey images of prosperous modern lives in America,” cultural anthropologist Hideyo Konagaya wrote in a 2001 paper The Christmas Cake: A Japanese Tradition of American Prosperity. Once their economy rebounded,
Society, the Individual and Cake
Japan quickly embraced the commercial version of Christmas, yet leaving religion and recipe aside: the cake becomes a read and white santa symbol but the cake itself, often decorated with strawberries, is a magnificently light sponge cake with whipped cream. Thereby indulging in the cake but leaving the holiday and other dining elements aside: “Family Christmas gatherings do not center around dinner, as in the American ideal, but rather upon mutual partaking of a Christmas cake.” explains David Plath, a renowned Japan scholar.
“This [cake] is part of a whole complex of things that the Japanese adopted from the West, modified to their own needs, and have completely different meaning and different implications for Japanese society than from whatever host society they borrowed it from,” states Konagaya. The cake becomes appropriated as the icon of economic success after destruction and devastation.
THE VISUAL CULTURE OF CAKE
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The Wedding Cake
The true commercial origins of the tradtional wedding cake.
Wedding cakes are an example of form triumphantly replacing eatability. Itâ€™s the impact of splendour and act of cutting that is the focus of attention. The food stuff of the wedding cake typically carries more social and cultural relevance than the flavour. Yet is it also a triumph of outdated traditions over new ideas? The classic form of the British wedding cake is not in fact one cake but three, declining in size, constructed on top of one another. The two upper tiers are set on pillars, which stand on the surface of the tier below, giving it a distinctive archi-
tectural appearance. Each layer is piped and iced with white royal icing. Moving upwards, each tier is a smaller replica in shape and decoration of the previous layer. Underneath the hard white icing lies a rich dark spiced fruitcake. Yet the British wedding cake is in essence a mysterious object, as there are no defined reasons for this construction. As Simon Charlesly writes in his essay Marriages, Weddings and their Cakes, in the book Food, Health and Identity (1997) by Pat Caplan: "Hardly anyone, either the makers or those who might spend the
Cake, Politics and Nostalgia
equivalent of a week’s salary on such a cake for their wedding, had anything to say in explanation of the form or its meanings." It leads to question if the shape is purely defined by commerce, as it was introduced in the early twentieth century as a commercial product. The first recipe for a wedding cake appeared in Elizabeth Raffald’s book The Experienced English Housekeeper, from 1769, in which a rich fruitcake, arranged in layers and covered with a layer of almond icing and then white icing, was labelled "bride cake". This recipe was reprinted in further editions of Mrs. Raffald’s book until 1825 and published in many different versions since her death in 1782. It is believed that Mrs. Raffald invented this design to be sold in her confectioner’s shop. Charlesly describes: "Mrs. Raffald provides a pragmatic starting point for a process which did not really have one." This was supported by the growing fascination for monumental sugar works introduced and glorified by a series of Victorian royal weddings. It had achieved to be an unmistakable form which could be reproduced in endlessly varying sizes and qualities, depending on financial circumstances. Charlesly describes the Royal cakes as signifiers, objects that are strongly identified with a particular event: ”Cakes as distributable and portable containers of
meaning carried the message of the wedding, indeed participation in it, to significant others whether they were physically present or not, and cake for this purpose continued to be produced in the quantities required.” For most of the twentieth century this form was widely accepted, as the combination for "the stability and lack of interpretation", as Charlesly continues, supported the fact that "the cake bad become simply an aspect of the culturally defined way in which marriages were made today." But the form was not the only aspect that was simply accepted: "(…) it was not uncommon for those marrying to announce that they did not actually like it. This mattered little, since eating was not part of the prescription, a voluntary extra only." "Cakes as distributable and portable containers of meaning carried the message of the wedding, indeed participation in it, to significant others whether they were physically present or not, and cake for this purpose continued to be produced in the quantities required." These structural and edible concepts started to collapse in the 1990ies when the relationship between cakes and their weddings were reviewed as a part of the rebellion against the old. Yet the tradition still survived until today and many a wedding still boast lavish tiered white cakes.
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Cake, Politics and Nostalgia
www.theknot.com 7 Popular Wedding Cake Traditions - and How to Make Them Your Own
1. Cutting the Cake Tradition: It used to be only the bride who cut the wedding cake— today, both partners share in the cake-cutting ritual. Family, friends and photographers alike look forward to the moment the couple joins hands around the cake knife and cuts the first slice. Not only will your guests finally get to taste the gorgeous creation they‘ve been eyeing throughout your reception, it’s also a classic wedding moment. Tip: Make sure your caterer gets a 15-minute lead time before you head over to cut the cake. They’ll need that time to refill champagne glasses and ready the cake table with all the necessary cake-cutting accoutrements.
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Continued musings on Rolad Barthes’ Ornamental Cookery.
“The 'substantial’ category which prevails in this type of cooking is that of the smooth coating: there is an obvious endeavour to glaze surfaces, to round them off, to bury the food under the even sediment of creams, icing and jellies.” As Roland Barthes muses, in the chapter Ornamental Cookery in his book Mythologies from 1957, about the art of hiding food in the weekly womens’ magazine Elle, one can’t help but be reminded of images of multi-coloured, multi-tiered, multi-layered cakes of perfection that are strewn across the inter-
net today. As social media is taking over in an ever more global manner, the quantity of quality cakes that are being made is startling. Visual appearance largely overtaking taste, texture and appeal. Barthes continues: “This of course comes from the very finality of the coating, which belongs to a visual category, and cooking according to Elle is meant for the eye alone, since sight is a genteel sense. For there is, in this persistence of glazing, a need for gentility.” Today our social relations are increasingly digital and thereby not compatible with taste
The Visual Culture of Cake
or smell, it begs to question what effect and impact the growing focus on visual reality and, as Barthes says, “unbridled beautification” have on cake. The underlying, actual, cake becomes an “indeterminate bed-rock”, a filler material to uphold the overworked and endlessly manhandled and manipulated surface. As Barthes states, there are two prevailing procedures of ornamentation in food. One “fleeing from nature thanks to a kind of frenzied baroque”, thereby contrasting all rationale and playing with the consumer’s/viewer’s perception. Today this can be observed in a growing popularity of artistic cakes shaped as faces and other body parts or the trend of architectural cakes, mimicking concrete walls and sleek rooftops to an unnerving degree. The other procedure is much rather “trying to reconstitute it (nature) through an incongruous artifice” by “strewing meringue mushrooms and holly leaves on a traditional log-shaped Christmas cake”. Barthes refers to these ornamentations as “petit-bourgeois art”, “what is pompously called, having ideas”. He concludes: “This ornamental cookery is indeed supported by wholly mythical economics. This is an openly dreamlike cookery, as proved in fact by the photographs in Elle, which never show the dishes except from a high angle, as
objects at once near and inaccessible, whose consumption can perfectly well be accomplished simply by looking.” It will be intriguing to observe if and how the dream-like cookery and mythical elements will increase in our visual reality, for vicarious visual consumption is already a fixed reality in some digital cultures.
Elle Magazine Why You Should Never Serve Cake at a Wedding
In this era of Pinterestified weddings, where every detail of invites and flowers and his-andhers cocktails are customized for maximum Instagram love, donâ€˜t you want your dessert to be memorable? You can accomplish this by serving a unique dessert. Anything but cake. Donâ€˜t let them eat cake.
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The Rise of Architecture Cakes The complex sugar structures that are taking over the internet.
The industrialisation of craft and merging of creative industries is leading to an fascination and following of precision made architecture cakes. Their appearance is spottless and dazzling upon the screens of those who scroll. Dinara Kasko, a Ukranian pastry chef, is the mastering the merging of baking with architectural designs. "I have many unrealized ideas and a great desire to experiment. I don’t want to imitate others; I want to create something new,” Kasko told So Good Magazine.
These cakes may be stunning to the eye but clearly no joy to consume. Sharp chocolate ridges interfer with taking a bite. Whilst there is no doubt about her well thought out flavour combinations, for exmaple goats cheese and cranberry cheesecakes, the shapes suggest a new role for cake. As cakes are getting more elaborate and sculptural, it begs to consider the role of these new constructions. If edibility is not of prime concern anymore, does digital visual impact take it’s place? Or do they simply become cake art?
The Visual Culture of Cake
The Architectural Review Cake Architecture: The Design of Desserts
Beyond the misfortunes of Hansel and Gretel in the gingerbread house, confectioners’ designs serve as a barometer for timeless debates around ornament and structural honesty. What’s more, like architecture, cake design belongs to that enduring tradition of artistic patronage. As a vehicle for the celebration of wealth, status and taste, it represents ‘conspicuous consumption’ in the most literal of senses.
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How the system cake could be the next pie chart.
Most of the challenges we face today involve systems. Be it global warming or health and social justice, our issues are systemic and our business and communication methods are as well. Often systems are almost invisible due to their dispersed and interlinked nature, additionally in some cases we may be part of the system, thereby making the whole easy to overlook as only a few individual parts stand out clearly enough for us to recognise from within. These translucent systems include natural systems, social systems, information systems or hybrid
systems. As the impact of systems is increasing, it would be of benefit to future generations to be system literate, thereby having the tools to understand and intervene in corrupt systems, malfunctioning systems or improving systems that may be outdated. In order to learn about systems, cake could be used as a tool in order to establish, practice, dissect and discuss systems.
John White A Treatise on the Art of Baking, 1828
To talk of a system in the art of baking may seem foolishness, being so dependent upon the circumstances of time, place and the qality of materials used, but in London there is one uniform system adhered to without variation. The baker in London begins his work betwixt twelve and one oâ€™clock noon, when he puts in his first spunge in the following manner: (â€Ś)
Alessandro Prian The Cake Theory, 2005
Having a history of mental illness and being diagnosed with manic depression (which I dispute) I feel it only right that I contribute my own ideas and Iâ€™ve decided to call it â€œThe Cake Theoryâ€?. This is because schizophrenia and other mental disorders have more than one contributory factor and there are a variety of ingredients needed to develop it just as there are a number of ingredients that make up a cake.
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From Fiction to Formula Demystifying the 'magicâ€™ of baking.
Baking is not conventionally thought of as a chemical industry, but making a cake relies on the successful interactions of various chemicals. The delicious smell of baking simply being a pleasing by-product of these chemical processes. Most commonly flour, fat, sugar, egg, salt and yeast or baking powder/soda are used in varying proportions to create different baked goods. This is the case for home baking but also commercial cakes and bread mixes. The difference being that the commercial products have raw ingredients that are monitored in laboratories,
thereby ensuring consistent quality. All baking is based on the use of flour, a powder obtained by grinding cereal gain. Composed from starch and protein, especially wheat flour, is rich in a class of protein called gluten. Gluten gives a thick, cohesive and elastic texture to a dough made from wheat flour and water. When baked, it puffs up, providing an airy texture, thereby providing structure to cakes and breads. Helping a dough rise, yeast can be added. It is made up of many tiny, single-celled plants which grown by bud-
ding, each bud breaking away from the parent cell and forming new buds. Once the yeast is combined with flour, sugar and some liquid, a good warm 25-30C is the optimal temperature for this process to commence and the dough to prove. Once mixed, the yeast begins to feed on the starch, forming sugar, alcohol and carbon dioxide. The CO2 bubbles in turn cause the dough to expand and rise. Kneading the dough helps distribute the bubbles evenly. If left too long, acid produced by oxidation of the alcohol causes the baked product to taste sour.
Fat has many major roles in baking, the success of these depend on the â€œslip pointâ€?, the temperature at which the fat begins to melt. Making sure that this temperature does not lie under the proving temperature. The four main roles of fat in baking are: 1) shortening - weakening the gluten network, making the baked goods softer and having a more tender mouthfeel, 2) creaming - trapping air during beating and mixing, resulting in a batter with masses of tiny air bubbles trapped within droplets of fat, 3) layering - spread between pastry layers, fat will separate
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them during cooking, giving a layered pastry, 3) flavour - usually fat should be flavourless but fats such as butter can carry and give a richness to the flavour of baked goods. Sugar is most commonly thought of as a sweetener but at temperatures above 160C it also undergoes a series of complex browning reactions, thereby forming the brown crust on many baked goods. This series is also known as Maillard reactions - essentially amino acid-catalysed caramelisation. Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, releases CO2 when it is heated. Yet when used on its own only half of the available CO2 is released and a strongly alkaline sodium carbonate is produced, giving the baked product a bitter, “soapy” taste and yellow colour. Digesting baked goods only using baking soda can be uncomfortable, as the Na2CO3 reacts with the HCl in the stomach to produce the other half of the available CO2. To avoid this, baking soda is often used in combination with acidic materials such as cream of tartar, honey, cocoa or golden syrup, thereby avoiding the imbalance between acidic and basic. Alternatively baking powder is used, as it is already a mixture of baking soda with solid acids, such as cream of tartar or tartaric acid. These acids also produce gas, yet in a short period of time and not con-
tinuously, thereby not holding the cake long enough for bubbles to be baked into it, resulting in a collapsed cake. The use of baking powder helps produce less alkaline baked goods, thus having no undesirable effect on the taste of the product. Self raising flour, a mixture of high grade flour, baking soda and a suitable acid (in the proportion of one tsp baking powder to one cup of flour), has become popular over the years, relieving bakers from needing to add any, or accidentally forgetting it. The egg, like fat, has multiple functions. Beaten egg white, also known as albumin, is used to give the batter a light and airy texture. The alibumin contains the protein lecithin which lines the outside of the egg air bubbles and prevents them from collapsing during baking. In unbeaten whole eggs, the lecithin acts as a binder, holding the cake together. Additionally eggs can be used as emulsifiers, moisteners and a nutritional source of fat and all essential amino acids. Lastly a pinch of salt is often added, enhancing flavours and “toughening” the soft mixture of fat and sugar. The consistency of the cake also being impacted by the physical mixing process it undergoes - beaten, whisked or kneaded. Would cake taste different if we simply understood it in a chemical and non-emotional way?
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Cutting the Cake
Cake traditions and how they could change.
In 106 Sir Francis Galton was fed up with the inefficient way cakes are cut. So he devised a new way he describes in his letter to the journal Nature Cutting a Round Cake on Scientific Principles: “Christmas suggests cakes, and these the wish on my part to describe a method of cutting them that I have recently devised to my own amusement and satisfaction. The problem to be solved was , “given a round tea-cake of some 5 inches across, and two persons of moderate appetite to eat it, in what way should it be cut so as to leave a minimum of exposed surface
to become dry?’ The ordinary method of cutting out a wedge is very faulty in this respect. The results to be aimed at are so to cut the cake that the remaining portions shall fit together. Consequently the chords (or the arcs) of the circumferences of these portions must be equal.(…) The cuts shown on the figures represent those made with the intention of letting the cake last for three days, each successive operation having removed about one third of the area of the original disc. A common india-rubber band embraces the whole and keeps its segments together.”
Mr. Galton’s new method of cutting a cake has unfortunately not proven to be popular. Perhaps when one is faced with the decadence of a cake, one is rarely overcome with thoughts of saving and preserving. There may be other reasons behind our ineffective way of cutting cakes. Looking back at the Renaissance period, Twelfth Night cakes became large works of art in England. As these were cut, one portion was reserved for God, another for the Virgin Mary and three other parts for the Magi - these were portions that were given to the poor. In Berry, France, the Twelfth Night cake was cut into as many portions as there were guests plus one more. The youngest family member distributed the pieces, the remaining piece (la part du bon Dieu) was given to the first person that asks for it. This conundrum of the last slice still holds today, as some don’t dare to ask for it and others shave off increasingly smaller slivers from it until the “last slice” is no more than “the last crumb”. Perhaps Mr. Galton was on to something though, for as we move ever further away from traditions today, cake now nearly being treated as an everyday staple, it may be time to revise outdated superstitions and traditions around the dividing of cake. The thought of sharing cake with the poor is a good sentiment, yet is has been some-
what tainted by Marie Antionette’s supposed exclamation: “Let them eat cake!”, when she heard the peasants had no more bread. A few years later, in 1792, the French revolutionaries renamed the cake previously known as King Cake as “Cake of Liberty” or “Cake of Equity”, thereby removing religious connotations and supporting the republican sentiments they stood for. So from poverty to liberty, cakes support many traditions and also adapt to new ones. What will be the new traditions of cutting and sharing cake in the 21st century? Or will our newfound omnipresent wealth inevitably lead to everyone having their own cake and eating it?
Steven J. Brams and Alan D. Taylor
Fair Division: From Cake-Cutting to Dispute Resolution
As a first step toward specifying criteria for determining satisfaction, consider the well-known procedure for dividing a cake between two people, whom we will call Bob and Carol: Bob cuts the cake, and Carol chooses one of the two pieces. We assume that the cake is divisible, so it can be cut at any point without destroying its value. Yet it need not be homogeneous, or the same throughout; rather we suppose it to be heterogeneous, wherein the flavours are mixed together but not stirred well. Thus rather than thinking of a layer cake in which the flavour are completely separate, or a cake in which the flavours have been completely mixed and have the same consistency throughout, imagine a cake wherein there are uneven swirls of, say, chocolate and vanilla. Even though a piece may be 3/8 chocolate and 5/8 vanilla, there is no way to â€Ś
â€Ś separate the chocolate from the vanilla by cutting the cake. Switching the imaginary and introducing preferences, suppose Carol likes the left side of a cake because it is thicker with frosting than the right side. Suppose Bob, who is on a diet, has the opposite preference but still would like the cherry in the middle. And both players may like the nuts, but they are scattered, with concentrations on both the left and right sides but not many in the middle. Patently, these preferences for the different toppings make this cake not only heterogeneous but also difficult for the players to divide in a way that will satisfy both.
SOCIETY, THE INDIVIDUAL AND CAKE
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The Cycle of Hope and Despair A society facing fictitious deprivation and a duty to consume.
Current political rhetoric continues to make us feel as if we were still in the 19th century and facing deprivation due to a lack of wealth. But how rich do we need to be before we are no longer keeping calm and carrying on? When will the relentless emphasis on economic growth and higher incomes stop, awakening us from our stupor of boredom and dissatisfaction. Our public concerns may be about environment and health but our private spendings focus on commodities to fill our lives with. What happened to the 'post-materialistâ€™ human that was
predicted by the nineteenth century economists? The kind of human that would be freed from the chore of making a living and instead devote his/her time to more fulfilling activities. Unfortunately contrary to the popular belief of 1960ies and 70ies literature, that predicted our future freed from materialistic desires, we have become increasingly more obsessed with 'stuffâ€™. And the wealthier we get the more this seems to be the case. Most people seem to cling to the belief that more money equates more happiness.
The Visual Culture of Cake
Raising the threshold of desire and creating an endless cycle of self-deception - the "hedonic treadmill" (Richard Easterlin) of hope and disappointment. When in fact the only way to win would be to stop playing. Clive Hamilton aptly notes, in his book Affluenza: when too much is never enough: "We react in alarm and sympathy when we come across an anorexic who is convinced she is fat, whose view of reality is obviously distorted. Yet as a society surrounded by affluence, we indulge in the illusion that we
are deprived.â€? In this case food and the control of consumption demonstrates a strong effect on us. Were we to use this effect of visualised contradictions, we could attempt to open peopleâ€™s eyes to their very own distorted reality.
Clive Hamilton Affluenza: when too much is never enough
Extravagance serves as a device whereby the rich differentiate themselves from the mass of the population. The masses watch the behaviour of the rich with a mixture of awe, envy and scorn. This attraction is the reason for the continuing popularity of magazines, newspapers and television shows that expose the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
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Fasting practices from religious fasting to food vlogging.
“Statistics suggest that in contemporary western society, where lack of food is not generally a problem, significant numbers of young women are engaged in severe fasting practices.” (Greenfeld et al., 1987). In ancient Greece, dietary asceticism was seen as an important part of constructing the individual acceptable “self”. Individuals at that time made specific choices about how to best care for themselves in both the physical and moral sense. A rigorous following of a multitude of practices of self-government constructed
a satisfactory “self”. Hippocrates stated there were five aspects to control: sexual relations, exercise, sleep, drink and food. These practices began in the elite circles but were intended to be taken up by the wider community. Already in those days a clear distinction was made between (eating) practices for men and women. Voluntary abstaining was an important part of most of these dietary regimens. The moral philosophy of antiquity, especially revolving around food, largely passed on into the Christian doctrine, where notions of self-restraint continued
Society, the Individual and Cake
to play a large role. Likewise, the Christian notion of fasting as purity has it’s origins in the beliefs of Pythagoras and Plato. These practices continued to be a model for later societies, as for example in the time between the thirteenth to sixteenth centuries in Europe, many young women starved themselves to death, apparently for reasons of personal piety. However, the social context and belief system that supported this fasting were very different. A focus on female asceticism can be traced back to medieval times where pious women were in no position to renounce their property or embrace chastity if they were married, as neither was in their control. Therefore fasting became a readily available tool for women, especially for young girls who decided to demonstrate piety early on. Equivalent men were not bound by the same restrictions. Still today there are women feeling this way. Such as Madeleine Shaw (27), a food vlogger who shares her food philosophy with hundreds of thousands followers on her Instagram. She states: “We’re all control freaks in some ways and I think that sometimes food can be quite overwhelming in making choices. (…) And I think that food is something that we can control as well. There are a lot of things in our life like your job - you think you are kind of in control of it but one day the company
goes down and you’re made redundant and relationships can be working out and suddenly something changes. Whereas food is the one thing that you’re actually controlling, especially once you’ve left home. You’re given this responsibility of feeding yourself. When you first left home and went shopping it was the most exciting thing, but I think that obviously leads to complex relationships with it because you can use that element of control in a negative way.” As Sheila Dillon, the BBC’s reporter for the Food Programme, concludes: We don’t have to be religious believers to bring feelings of guilt, repentance, shame and reparation to the business of eating.
Lewis Carroll Alice‘s Adventures in Wonderland
Soon her eye fell on a little glass box that was lying under the table: she opened it, and found in it a very small cake, on which the words “EAT ME” were beautifully marked in currants.
George Orwell Animal Farm
He claimed to know of the existence of a mysterious country called Sugarcandy Mountain, to which animals went when they died. It was situated somewhere up in the sky, a little distance beyond the clouds, Moses said. In Sugarcandy Mountain it was Sunday seven days a week, clover was in season all the year round, and lump sugar and linseed cake grew on the hedges.
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Giving in to Dangerous Temptation How sugar became a bad boy.
“If doing so were nutritionally sound or socially permissible, we’d eat it at every meal.” says Mayukh Sen about cake. But what precisely is it that nutrition and society are denying the individual and how come they have such power over us, even in moments of solitude? The new authoritative labelling of sweet foods as sinful in the late 16th century may have only increased their ultimate appeal. Sugar quickly proved to become the object of sweet disobedience. Similar to smoking, sugar took on a rebellious appeal. Some people of
course indulge freely without guilt, others stay away with difficulty but a large majority wages a constant internal battle against their own urges. This would not have been possible without official condemnation, as without the knowledge of sin, there could be no sin. Ironically though, by the mid 16th century a vast amount of sugar was imported from the New World for the first time. Thereby rapidly increasing availability and affordability but the luxury and medical demand had dropped, thereby leaving the sugar for the public to gouge on.
Society, the Individual and Cake
As more and more sweet pastries were made, they were increasingly labeled delicious and dangerous. A new social niche emerged as a distinct way of life for a certain type of person that regulates foremost by self-control and conscious application of dietary principles. This is still true today. “Oh, I used to love those chelsea buns, those iced chelsea buns. And I used to go shopping - they’d only sell 'em in twos - and I’d get one and I’d have that on a Saturday when I got home with my cup of coffee and the other one was calling me
from the fridge, you know. And I’d have to have it. And that was my downfall.” says Meryl on the BBC Food Programme podcast Eating By The Rules (2017).
Eat Right in the Renaissance, Food and the Individual
Take for example a slick new cookbook that explains how to throw dinner parties. Whether readers actually throw these parties is perhaps less important and interesting than the cultural idea embodied in sociability, savoir faire, and sophistication that is being bought by the readers of such literature. The cookbook is thus an idealisation of values shared by a particular group and sought by the individual. In a society that constructs ideal beauty as a slim figure, logically diet book for weight-reduction will proliferate. Chance are that few people will ever attain the slim body promised, but the cultural ideal is still clearly spelled out in the literature and the success stories are touted publicly as an incentive to imitate.
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A Female Material Whatâ€™s up with the sprinkles?
Perfect home baking is for the perfect house wife. When speaking about home baking there is an immediate, somewhat fantastical, image of a woman in a frilly apron happily, easily and ever so charmingly making sweet treats appear in her kitchen that are to be shared with the family. This image is of course culturally created, as described in Amy Bentleyâ€™s book Eating For Victory. Sugar, a main ingredient of cake, was frequently seen as a female material in America: "During World War II, in the United States men/
meat and women/sugar assosciations were actively reinforced in many arenas, including wartime government policy advertising, and even commercial cookbooks.(â€Ś) This "language" of meat and sugar rationing served to reinforce gender roles during this time of great change in society." Thereby gender stereotypes, that are still largely standing today, were being backed by cake. "Sugar and the baked goods produced with sugar were intimately tied to their identity as wife, mother, homemaker." Yet with increasing industrialisation, home-
The Visual Culture of Cake
made cakes have become rarities for special occasions, if at all. Industrial cakes have a more neutral feel to them, often marketed as home baked but not female centred. Is the comfort of eating cake the same for men and women? Or were women always simply meant to bake the cake as an act of giving: "The treats, a warm kind gesture, provide a (female) touch of needed humanity." In an interview with Forbes in 2012, Ellen Lubin-Sherman, the author of the Essentials of Fabulous and New Yorkbased business coach said: “Baking
cookies or bringing in treats does nothing but demonstrate your femininity. It sends mixed messages about your performance and can do serious damage to your reputation and gravitas. The next thing you know, you’ll be donning an apron.” One could find oneself questioning if women should still bake at all, as it seemingly only reinforces the stereotype. But with the knowledge of these properties of sweet, homemade pastries, there may be ways to turn it around and make cake the weapon.
Amy Bentley Eating For Victory, 1998
No matter how serious the issue we are addressing, such as sexual harrassment or racial and gender stereotypes, if I serve some of my banana or pumpkin bread at the meeting, people seem to interact better and tend to be more relaxed. It helps to stimulate a dialogue and bring out the best in people, maybe because they connect it with images of the family and home.
Marina Abramović Pastry Portrait
My work is most of the time immaterial because perfromance art is immaterial, it is conceptual and limited by time. Kreëmart’s work in the medium of sugar is completely immaterial too, because you consume it, you eat it, and it’s gone. What is left behind is the memory of what you eat.
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The People‘s Bakery
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The material and idea of cake has a morphological quality that allows it to be discusses in a multitudes of narratives, thereby offering muc...
Published on Jul 11, 2019
The material and idea of cake has a morphological quality that allows it to be discusses in a multitudes of narratives, thereby offering muc...