Cake is a form of bread or bread-like
food. In its modern forms, it is typically a sweet
baked dessert. In its oldest forms, cakes were normally
fried breads or cheesecakes, and normally had a
disk shape. Determining whether a given food should
be classified as bread, cake, or pastry can be difficult.
Modern cake, especially layer cakes, normally contain
a combination of flour, sugar, eggs, and butter
or oil, with some varieties also requiring liquid
(typically milk or water) and leavening agents (such
as yeast or baking powder). Flavorful ingredients
like fruit purées, nuts, dried or candied
fruit, or extracts are often added, and numerous
substitutions for the primary ingredients are possible.
Cakes are often filled with fruit preserves or dessert
sauces (like pastry cream), iced with buttercream
or other icings, and decorated with marzipan, piped
borders or candied fruit.
Cake is often the dessert of choice for meals at
ceremonial occasions, particularly weddings, anniversaries,
and birthdays. There are countless cake recipes;
some are bread-like, some rich and elaborate, and
many are centuries old. Cake making is no longer
a complicated procedure; while at one time considerable
labor went into cake making (particularly the whisking
of egg foams), baking equipment and directions have
been simplified so that even the most amateur cook
may bake a cake.