cake, originally a small mass of dough baked by turning on a spit; in present usage a dessert made of flour, sugar, eggs, seasonings, usually some leavening and liquid besides the eggs, and shortening. This last ingredient is not always used; unshortened cakes depend mainly on beaten eggs for leavening (e.g., spongecake and angel food cake). The early method of making sweet cake was by adding other ingredients to a portion of bread dough. Some cakes, such as fruitcake or poundcake, called for many eggs and for wine, brandy, or sack (an Elizabethan wine); these ingredients supplying the leavening agent. Modern cakes are generally raised with baking powder, baking soda, or beaten eggs.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.