Recipe Box: Sour Cream Chocolate Cake and More

Check out recipes for sour cream chocolate cake, yogurt pie and sausage and white bean soup, and learn how to make corn syrup.

| May/June 2014

Marie Antoinette, the French queen during the Revolution, may not have actually uttered the words, but the phrase has gone down in history as a famous saying from a royal personage. “Let them eat cake!” was actually “Let them eat brioche!” Brioche, a French pastry, is extremely enriched bread with more egg and butter content than you might have thought possible. But we stray from our cake quest.

The concept of cake dates to ancient Egyptians who advanced baking skills to an art. Those early cakes were sweetened with honey and included nuts and/or dried fruits. “Cake” is derived from an Old Norse word “kaka” and can be traced back to the 13th century.

What we recognize as cake today started in the mid-17th century when European bakers took advantage of new technologies — ovens, food molds, etc. — and refined ingredients such as granulated sugar. Most bakers probably used a metal or wooden hoop placed on a flat baking sheet as the mold for a cake.

It took until the mid-19th century for cakes to look like our cakes. Refined ingredients again dictated the change: refined white flour and baking powder instead of yeast. An 1894 cookbook, The Cassell’s New Universal Cookery Book, included a layer cake recipe.

While it seems strange to us, chocolate wasn’t originally included in a cake’s ingredient list. It was, at first, a drink that accompanied a piece of cake; then it became part of the icing on the cake. Finally in the 19th century, chocolate became a full-fledged cake ingredient, at least in some instances. It wasn’t until the 20th century that chocolate became a widespread popular cake ingredient. Can you imagine it taking so long for chocolate cake to become the norm?

If you have a minute, send along your favorite cake recipes, and we’ll print a few in a future issue of the magazine. Email them to with “Cake” included in the subject line.

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