Senior Project Research Paper


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Senior Project Research Paper

  1. 1. Gaito 1Sam GaitoMs. BennettBritish Literature14 March 2012 The Occasional Cake Every cake is customized to the special occasion for which it is made.When one picturesa wedding cake what does the mind imagine? How about a birthday cake, a Christmas cake, oreven an anniversary cake? Cakes, as a rule, have a theme or idea behind the event. If one isbaking a birthday cake, the cake is generally playful and decorated with fun colors, shapes, anddesigns. In contrast, a wedding cake is usually white with flowers to match the bride’s bouquetor decorations that fit with the theme of the wedding. Wedding cakes are generally simple with abeautiful elegance in the decorations. During the holidays,there are many cakes to be seen, eachcake tuned towards a specific holiday. A Christmas cake usually has dried fruit or nuts, andHalloween cakes usually are flavored with spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. Each cake isunique in many ways. Cakes are decorated to suit a person, holiday, occasion, or theme. Before beginning the cake, one must be sure that he/she is 100% prepared.The first stepto creating a beautiful cake is as simple as taking the time to sit down and brainstorm for ideas.One must begin by fully understanding the event for which the cake is being made.Understanding includes knowing the people and the event without having to sit down and thinkabout the details of the event. Next there are five essential questions that must be answeredbefore the baking process can begin. Grab a piece of paper and a pen and answer each
  2. 2. Gaito 2questionwith as much detail as possible. The first question is what is the budget for the cake?The second question is when is the event? The third question is how many guests will beattending the event? The fourth question is how formal is the event? The fifth question is whatflavor is wanted for each cake layer, and what flavor for the icing (they do not always have tomatch)? The most important step prior to baking is making a checklist of all the materials,ingredients, and equipment needed and ensuring that each piece is readily available and on hand.(Wilson). Before stepping into the kitchen, confirm that every detail for the cake to be baked isin place. For every cake that is bake, there will be a different list of equipment that will be needed.According to an article from Lifehacker, there are five essential tools that should be in everykitchen. The first is three decent knives; one eight or ten inch blade knife, one paring knife, and acheap bread knife. The second is five good quality multiuse pots and pans. The third is a numberfor a restaurant quality supply store or Asian market to be sure all ingredients are available ifneeded. The fourth is an instant read thermometer. The fifth and final item is a small reliablekitchen scale (Purdy). Another article from Organic Authority states that there are ten must-havetools: an eight or ten inch knife; a ruler; several cutting boards for different ingredients to preventcross contamination; dental floss for making flawless cuts into sticky or gooey substances; ziplock bags to use for storage or as a substitute for pastry bags; a good pair of kitchen scissors; afine mesh strainer or chinois; an offset spatula for perfect frosting on that special cake every time(Klein). Each piece of equipment is important for different tasks in the kitchen. Each and every wedding cake has its own particular features and qualities. One thing toconsider is that contrary to popular belief, the white wedding cake’s origins did not come from asymbol of purity. The pure white wedding cake started as a symbol of status. This status symbol
  3. 3. Gaito 3came about because when wedding cakes were first coming to popularity, sugar was veryexpensive and difficult to obtain. Making the sugar to make the cake and the frosting were veryexpensive because each bride wanted whiter and purer sugar for her cake than the last bride’s.Therefore, the whiter the cake, the more expensive it was, thus turning the cake into a symbol ofdecorations: fondant or gum paste flowers, royal icing piping, edible flowers, or real flowers tomatch the bride’s bouquet.These decorations are usually put on a cake to match a theme. Thetheme could be anything from a beach wedding with brightly colored flowers to a simple churchwedding with elegant white piping covering the cake. There is no set design for wedding cakes,and each cake is designed to fit the bride’s and groom’s life. The perfect holiday party is not complete without the perfect holiday cake. Cakes dateback to ancient times, though those cakes are different then what is thought of today. The firstcakes were more of a bread sweetened with honey and often supplemented with dried fruit ornuts. According to historians, the Egyptians were the first to show advanced signs of baking withimprovements in baking technology. These past cakes have given the United States the holidaycakes thought of today (Lynne). One cake traditionally thought of is called the King cake and is atradition of Mardi Gras. This cake is a braided cinnamon pastry covered in purple, green, andgold fondant. Though traditionally cakes have no filling, some are filled with anything frompineapple to cream cheese. The King cake traditionally has a bean of some type baked into it torepresent the Christ child. The person who finds the bean is said to bring the cake to the nextyear’s celebration (Cornish). Another cake is a birthday cake. The definition of the birthday cake is a pastry or dessertserved to a person on his or her birthday. The history of the birthday cake can be traced all theway back to the ancient Greeks. The Greeks would make round or moon shaped cakes or bread
  4. 4. Gaito 4flavored with honey. Other historians believe the tradition started in Germany during the MiddleAges with sweetened bread dough in the shape of baby Jesus. This sweetened dough soonemerged into celebration of a young child’s life with cakes of all shapes, sizes, andcolors("History of Birthday").Birthday cakes have become an important part of the annualAmerican traditions. The Christmas cake is another prominent holiday cake. Buche de Noel is one of manytraditional cakes baked at Christmas. The name of this recipe literally translates to “Christmaslog,” referring to the traditional Yule log burned during the holidays. The ingredients in this cakesuggest that the cakes were filled with jam or cream and covered with buttercream icing. Thesecakes then began to show up in European cook-books (Olver). As one can see, there is a historybehind every cake and its occasion. When creating a cake for a special occasion, one must take into account more than justthe shape, size, and color. The most important part of a special occasion cake is making sure theevent is fully understood. Whether it is a baby shower, ananniversary, or a Bar Mitzvah, the cakemust be perfectly tuned to fit with the event. Another very important part of a special occasioncake is the decorations and the colors. The decorations will usually match the theme or type ofevent while the colors are used to elicit some type of emotion.Every color plays on the emotionsof the onlooker in one way or another whether you know it or not. Studies show that brightcolors are very stimulating while muted colors are very soothing. This study states that thereason for this effect could be because over thousands of years humans have learned to respondto that color’s role in nature. The four most common colors are red, blue, green, and yellow. Redhas been shown to make people feel agitated, jumpy, rushed, hungry, fearful, strong, andpassionate. Blue makes people feel content, clean, tranquil, spiritual, trusting, and depressed.
  5. 5. Gaito 5Green makes people feel fresh, hopeful, lucky, and peaceful. Yellow gives off the feeling ofbeing cheerful, hopeful, excited, and focused (Morton). One of the most important parts of making a cake aesthetically pleasing is choosing thecorrect base for the decorations. The two most common ways to create a base for the decorationsof choice are royal or butter-cream icing with a layer of fondant or just a layer of royal or butter-cream icing. When using fondant, a layer of icing must be applied to the cake as a “glue” toensure that the fondant sticks to the cake and stays put. Fondant is typically used in moderncakes because if the more polished and professional look it gives the cake. Fondant is asmooth, thick, paste-like, sugar based icing that can be colored and shaped. Fondant is not onlyused for cake coverings but is also used for decorating the cake itself. Though most cakes todayare covered and decorated in fondant for aesthetics, some are still covered and/or decorated withroyal icing, cream cheese icing, and butter-cream icing. Covering a cake with icing rather thanfondant gives the cake a more rustic or classic feel instead of a smooth polished feel.No matterwhat the cake is covered and decorated with, it will always look amazing. For the majority of people, something as daunting as a five tier cake may be scary, butwith the right tools and a lot of creativity it can become a reality. Always remember to put theevent first. Know the amount of people attending and the theme of the event and the rest will fallinto place. The cake, no matter how big or small, will always be remembered. Keep in mind thatwedding cakes do not always have to be white, and the cake can be any flavor that can dreamtup. When coming up with decorating ideas, be sure to let the mind explore to come up with newand innovative decorating idea and techniques. As Marie Antoinette once said, “let them eatcake”, do not let your cake intimidate you, conquer your fears, and get baking!
  6. 6. Gaito 6 Works CitedBerwitt, Katie. “10 Popular Wedding Cake Traditions.”WE.N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Sept. 2011. <>.Charsley, Simon. “Wedding Cake.”Encyclopedia of Food and Culture. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2003. Gale Virtual Reference Library.Web. 9 Sept. 2011. <>.Cornish, Audie. “A Taste of Mardi Gras: The Return of the King Cake.” NPR.N.p., 23 Feb. 2006. Web. 7 Sept. 2011. < story.php?storyId=5228675>.Gee, Catherine. “The History of the Wedding Cake.”The Telegraph.N.p., 19 Apr. 2011. Web. 7 Sept. 2011. < wedding-cake.html>.“History of Birthday Cake.”Tokenz.N.p., n.d. Web. 7 Sept. 2011. < history-of-birthday-cake.html>.Klein, Laura. “Laura Klein’s Must Have Kitchen Tools.” Organic Authority.Ed. Laura Klein and Andrea Manitsas.N.p., 2010. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. < organic-food-recipes/cooking-tips/laura-kleins-must-have-kitchen-tools.html>.Morton, Jill. “Sight for Your Eyes: What Do Colors Mean?” Washington Post.N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Sept. 2011. <>.Olver, Lynne. “About Cake.”Food Timeline.N.p., 3 Sept. 2011. Web. 7 Sept. 2011. <>.“Christmas Foods.”Food Timeline.N.p., 7 Mar. 2011. Web. 7 Sept. 2011. <>.
  7. 7. Gaito 7Purdy, Kevin. “Five Must-Have Tools for Any Kitchen.”Lifehacker.Ed. Adam Pash and Jason Chen.N.p., 9 June 2009. Web. 14 Sept. 2011. < must+have-tools-for-any-kitchen>.Stewart, Martha, and Wendy Kromer.“Finding Inspiration.”Martha Stewart’s Wedding Cakes. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2007. 14. Print.Thring, Oliver. “Wedding Food Traditions around the World.”Guardian.N.p., 29 Apr. 2011. Web. 7 Sept. 2011. < dinner-william-kate-middleton>.Wilson, Dede. “Dreaming and Planning Your Cake.” Wedding Cakes You Can Make. Hoboken: Wiley, n.d. 2-19. Print.