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How Has Cake Design Changed Over the Years

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How Has Cake Design Changed Over the Years
Used under licence from iStock

Cake trends come and go with the seasons, months and years. Sometimes these trends come back into fashion but often what is popular in the past simply stays there as techniques or available ingredients and tools get more advanced. As little as ten years ago pre-made fondant and gum paste was either completely unavailable, too expensive to consider or really bad quality. Now you can pretty much get anything you need at the local craft or kitchen store. Cake decorating styles have changed a great deal over the last 20 years and it is interesting to see the progression and growth in this industry.

Cake versus Decorations: Cakes used to be quite simple because the actual cake was the star of the show not the decorations on the outside. Taste was the key and it was usually clean easy to identify flavors such as chocolate, French vanilla or strawberry in a simple butter cream and cake. Not we have glazes, curds, cream, confits, washes as well as an assortment of icing types. We see mango, peppermint, pomegranate, carrot, pumpkin, lime, peanut butter, apple and caramel in the cakes found today. As well as a combination of several in one cake or more than one cake flavor in an assortment of cakes. Basically if you can dream it; the taste can be done.

Different Shapes:Back in the day there were round cakes and if you wanted to be really daring square cakes. Now cakes can be hexagons, hearts, rectangles, a mixture of shapes and even sculpted into realistic objects such as shoes, purses, cars and full scenes. Wedding themes make ocean cakes, snow covered hills, scattered fall leaves or even fishing brides and grooms popular. The days of cake tiers separated demurely by plastic fluted columns topped with sedate plastic figures are basically gone. Basically anything goes with today's cakes and variety is almost expected by the guests.

Centerpiece Cakes and Cupcakes: This is a trend that was not around 20 years ago and cake pops were definitely not on the radar. Cupcakes were not elegant enough for a serious occasion like a wedding and were more likely to be found at bake sales and children's birthday parties. Cupcakes have gained popularity because they can be anything required by a theme or event; elegant, whimsical and simply gorgeous. They make multiple flavors easy and can be topped by flowers, cut outs and pretty swirls of icing that reflect the color scheme of the event. Centerpiece cakes are equally pretty and can be cut to serve individually as the dessert at the table it graces. Towering cupcake stands and pedestals designed for centerpiece creations make serving and presenting these delectable cake creations effortless.

Color, Color, Color: People have always used bold vibrant colors in their cake design but the products used to create these shades has definitely changed over the years. Getting true red in icing used to mean a finished product that had a nasty chemical taste which tended to take away from the enjoyment of the cake. Older food coloring used to mean unhealthy ingredients and a disturbing link to hyperactivity which made many cake designers opt out of using them. The food colors used today can be made from organic natural dyes created from vegetables and fruits. This gives people the choice and creates cakes that reflect the trend towards "green". Synthetic dyes are still on the market but many harmful ingredients have been phased out over the years as well.

Trends in cake design have definitely evolved over the years but one trend that seems to be gaining popularity is a hearkening back to days in the past. Antique crystal cake pedestals, designs that reflect Grandma's lace veil and cakes featuring vintage jewelry replicated in sugar are popping up all over. This seems to show that many things are possible but embracing what was beautiful and historical is never out of fashion.

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