Cakes form the basic and most widely consumed item by a person with a sweet tooth. Cakes enjoy the central position across cultures for all kinds of celebration from weddings to birthdays and even to the simplest of tea parties—a wedding cake in New South Wales, on average, costs $533. The cake and bread industry in Australia has a market size of $787 million. Today patisseries and cake shops in Sydney offer a wide variety of cakes and pastries in terms of flavour, type as well as presentation. Chefs are bringing about unique combinations of flavours, juxtaposing brightly coloured cake layers that make one’s mouth water at sight. However, cake flavours or types tend to be a little confusing to understand for the novice. Put together below is a guide to understanding the basic cake types based on the method of cooking or flavour.
Cakes are made out of four basic ingredients, viz. flour, sugar, eggs and butter or oil. These ingredients are mixed in a variety of ways and in different proportions to get different types of cakes. Apart from these, other ingredients are added to enhance the taste of the cake.
Basic Types of Cake
The two basic types of cakes are shortened cakes and foam cakes. They differ concerning the fourth ingredient, i.e., butter or oil. Shortened cakes are also known as butter cakes since they have butter but foam cakes, on the other hand, have negligible fat content with a higher proportion of egg. Foam cakes are airy and sponge-like, while butter cakes are dense and moist. The permutations and combinations of these basic ingredients and additional ingredients means that there are virtually endless varieties of cakes.
Variations of Shortened Cake
- Pound Cake
Pound cake is one of the easiest cakes to bake and owes its name to the ingredients to be used, i.e., one pound each of the basic ingredients viz. flour, sugar, eggs and butter. Being dense, they are served plain. They are usually ideal for tea parties and include coffee cakes and fruit cakes.
- Carrot Cake
Carrot cake, as the name suggests, is carrot flavoured and combines some warm spices. Butter is replaced with oil.
- Red Velvet Cake
An all-time favourite among cupcake fans as well, this cake draws its distinct flavour and colour from the addition of cocoa to the cake mix. However, today this is achieved through artificial food colouring.
Variations of Foam Cake
- Sponge Cake
Sponge cakes are signature foam cakes in that they use a large number of egg whites and no baking powder. They rise due to whipped eggs and are very airy, offering limitless flavour combinations from vanilla to walnuts. Genoise sponge cake is another variation wherein the egg white and yolks are beaten together and flour folded into it. This gives it a bit denser texture.
- Angel Food Cake
This cake is for the nutrient conscious. They include just egg white with flour and sugar with no fat. They are very light and usually topped with fruits and berries, making a calorie-conscious cheat meal.
- Flourless or Gluten-Free Cakes
As the name suggests, this variation of cake leaves out the flour and uses the other three ingredients. Since there is no use of flour, the gluten found in grains is also absent in these cakes. The wheat flour is replaced by other gluten-free baking mixes available in the market.
Cheesecakes are an all-time bestseller and popular favourite across cake shops in Sydney. This is also a flourless cake where the flour is replaced with cheese. The bottom layer is usually made from a light sponge cake or simple pastry. Flavours include vanilla, lemon, or chocolate etc., with a topping of whipped cream, nuts or fresh berries. The use of cheese gives the cake its silky-smooth texture. They may be baked or unbaked.