Art Thou Cakes-Cake Artistry History

History of Cake Artistry

This may be unusual for some, but I would like to state, that, just as much as I love to get straight into what I do (often mindlessly), I enjoy doing a lot of research and reading about it as well.

I personally believe in finding the philosophy behind everything I do, so that what I do comes from, all of me: mentally, spiritually, mentally and physically. If I miss any of these in my handiwork, I do not believe that I have given it my perfect best.

Yes, I am not perfect at what I do, but I give perfectly, if that makes sense. My sister, once told me, “Sis, your creations are just like everyone else’s but I taste your soul only in yours.” Her words have helped me to stay true to myself and to this art.

Therefore, my post today, will be drawn from what I call my ‘mental’ or the intelligent side of my cake art. I will share some interesting facts about the history of cake artistry, for your knowledge as well.

Mentions of Cake in History

History of Cake Artistry - displays of wealth

The mention of cakes can be found as early as the ancient Egyptian days. Food historians claim that Egypt was one of the first civilizations to have evidence of an advanced cake making technology.

The Roman period also, had their own version named after the “placenta”. Raisin cakes are mentioned in the bible, offered to people during their festivities. Raisin cakes were used as cult offerings by many other ancient civilizations. In fact just about every culture has a story behind how their cake recipes emerged.

How Cake Art Developed

Cake art or cake artistry is an elaborated extension of cake decorating. It goes beyond just the normal covering of icing or the additional cake writing and piping. It is an often ignored culinary art that according to many food historians emerged during the mid 16th – 17th Century, when a French chef created the first multilayered frosted cake.

Cake decorating quickly became popular among the aristocrats of that time; the more elaborate the decoration, the greater the status portrayed.

Cake pans emerged about the same time and added to the fancier designs and structures. Hence, cake art originally was purposed for display of wealth or status rather than to be eaten and oft took more than two people to decorate. Sometimes, I wonder if this European social perspective was adopted by the Tongans as well, when they were visited by them missionaries…hmm.

History of Cake Artistry Tongan Display of Wealth

Cake display for Tongan wedding

However, cake decorating only became what we know as cake art today, in the 19th Century, when the French included it and called it ‘dessert’ as a sweet course on its own at the end of a meal. In the 1840s, kitchen technology evolved the basic wood fire oven, into a temperature controlled oven.

Another important development that emerged at this time was the production of baking powder and baking soda. These ingredients made baking easier and to this day, are the two most used and essential ingredients for baking.

However, cake decoration was still very old-fashioned, in most Western societies. Cakes were covered in royal icing and piped tediously with elaborate and intricate designs.

At this time also, Queen Victoria designed the first multilayered white wedding cake, which, is the standard wedding cake design today. Just look at the modern royal’s wedding cakes nowadays – its a right royal fancy affair!

Different Cake Decorating Methods

The Wilton MethodWilton Enterprises Decorating Tips

The first cake artistry courses were formed in 1929, by Wilton Enterprises, aimed at enterprise pastry chefs and caterers, wanting to learn the art of cake decorating.

These courses became very popular and by the 1960s, their cake decorating techniques, became the well-known, ‘Wilton Method’ and the standard for cake art today.

Later in 1947, Wilton Enterprises created their own line of baking and decorating products, which were so successful, they are still the most popular and used brand in the cake making and decorating industry. I buy and use their products as well.

In 1983 Wilton Enterprises merged with the Copco Kitchen company and later with another company, Rowoco to what we currently know as Wilton Industries, in 1991.

The Lambeth Method

Joseph Lambeth published a cake decorating book in 1934, called ‘The Lambeth Method‘. This book became the classic bible of cake decorating techniques.

His piping methods were based on the historic English tradition of “overpiping”, creating rows and rows os piped details with intricate scrolls and garlands.

It is a lavish style of cake decorating and was only for very special occasions such as weddings and christenings.

The popularity of the book amongst budding cake artists, was due to how it was written and the icing methods he used. He used both royal icing and buttercream.

The pages were laid out with step by step instructions together with beautiful pictures for his own handiwork (some which his wife took), that his readers could easily follow and master.

However, the 1980s ushered in a new and fashionable smooth fondant cake look, which saw Lambeth piping fall out of favour and became an ignored art. Lambeth later started his own cake artistry school in Europe. He won numerous awards for his work.

His techniques are slowly emerging again with the new interest in retro cakes. Although it is old-fashioned and tedious, I am still a fan and this is probably one of my most favourite methods of cake decorating next to painting, which I aspire to excel at one day. Thank you, Joseph Lambeth.

International Cake Organisations

The first international cake organisation was formed in 1976, Monroe, Michigan, USA. It was founded by Betty Jo Steinman and called, The International Cake Exploration Societé (ICES), a non-profit organisation for the purpose of preserving and advancing the love and appreciation for cake art and sugar skills.

They have a Facebook page which I follow.ICES Minnesota 1976

There have been numerous other organsiations formed since and some are free to join and others you pay a subscription fee to be allowed their shared techniques and courses.

You will find many online, through many social media platforms. I have joined Sugar Craft and others that I have used to gain and develop my own cake artistry skills.


Knowing the background and history of cake artistry, allows me to have a better perspective of the philosophy behind my handiwork. It also adds an intelligent purpose to making my art a part of my soul.

The techniques and works that I use have been adapted to my style, but at the same time, I acknowledge and respect their starting foundations.

Nowadays with the development of technology historical techniques can be excelled much more promptly with online courses, without the travelling or time away from home. Despite this I still prefer my original books.

Therefore, I encourage you to find the background history to anything you do in life, because it will keep you humble and add intelligence to your work.

I hope that this will give you a little knowledge towards truly understanding and respecting cake artistry.

History of Cake Artistry-Fantacious Baked Dreams

My first piped cake


Please share your thoughts on my post. I would love to hear from you.

I will meet on my next post,

Cake Artistry Featured Image

16 thoughts on “History of Cake Artistry

  1. Louis

    Don’t we all just love cakes!!! I remember my 10th year birthday cake, I had a miniature iron man on the cake. I loved iron man and didn’t want anybody eating him, actually made me sad when he was cut. 

    I never knew cake artistry began thanks for enlightening me. However, I’ll advice cake decorators to always be considerate when designing their cakes.

    Warm regards

    1. admin

      Hi Louis, thank you for visiting. What a sad story about your iron man, Yes, it is good for cake decorators to know when it all began 🙂

  2. Clement

    Great and well detailed post, you have really taken a big step in unveiling the history behind cake artistry and I really appreciate the effort and energy you put inti digging this out. I think cake making started in ancient Egypt, I have once read about that. Cake artistry has indeed be really developing over the years.

    1. admin

      Hi Clement, you are actually right about Cake making historically evidence found in Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. I was going to add in my post, but my focus was in cake decorating/artistry. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my post 🙂

  3. Ajay

    Thank you for the interesting and informative post about the history of cake artistry. Most engaging. I really like your site. I can’t imsgine ever baking with such intent: to create a piece of art using icing and other bits and pieces. I didn’t realise it could be so technical. It’s all I can do to bake a cake Nd slap a bit of icing on top. I am more devoted to eating cake. Haha
    Keep it up.

    1. Ilaisaane Tuakalau Post author

      Thanks for visiting Ajay, the history is very important in anything in life, I believe. Cake artistry in my case is very serious business, and having my soul in what I do makes my cake art much more unique. Its funny you should say that, so many others never realised how much work goes into those delicious bites. It was nice chatting with you. Please visit again 🙂

  4. Nuttanee

    You are right about checking the history of what you like. Your post is really interesting and it is fun to find out how cake and cooking methods change through time. Nowadays, you are all these pretty cakes that you can personalized. You can print your family pictures, you can have it shaped into your favorite designed bags or jewelries. Not only that we get to enjoy the taste of the cake we get to enjoy the amazing presentation as well. Glad that I stumbled to your post, get to learn fun facts.

    1. admin

      Hi Nuttanee,

      thank you for visiting and leaving a comment. Cake artistry has really taken off and it is being developed every day with a new creation. Totally fun to do as a hobby too, which will be posted later. Enjoy your day and please do visit again.

  5. KPalmquist

    I used to work at Wilton, and never had a clue about this.  Interesting stuff.  I have seen lots of shows in TV, but they only focused on the here-and-now.  Historical perspectives are nice to have when embarking on hobbies and other endeavors.  I like to cook, but never tried much baking.  I might need to start baking now and unleash my inner artist.

    1. admin

      Thank you so much for visiting and commenting on my post. I know it wasn’t until I did my own research that I realised what an icon Wilton really is. Go ahead and unleash it, you will be amazed at what you will come up with.

  6. Caldero

    Like with most art, it would involve a lot of training but at the same time I always thought it was…well, easier. With painting, one bad stroke caused by you getting startled or something and then BAM, RUINED FOREVER. In this, you could just wipe off and eat the incorrect stroke. I mean, I’m sure it’s not as easy as it sounds, but that was always my thought process. I always wondered where you went to learn that. Is there like, a subsection of art school with courses dealing in that? There’s culinary studies at university level but I always took that as more food science than food art.

    1. admin

      Hi nice to have you visit my website and thanks for commenting. Art can be taught, however being creative is another story. You are definitely right about the painting, but there are ways to correct it. In cake artistry, I use vodka to rub off the error on my fondant and start again – lol, thats how easy it is and most don’t know that vodka can be so useful. However, if my painting is a disaster, then I have my family to chomp away at the cake – which they are quite happy doing. Thank you and enjoy your day today.

  7. Henry

    Hi! Thank you very much for this post! I recognize that in our very busy daily lives, we usually go pass the real beauty of things. That fine touch between something well done and a master piece, is usually not esteemed as it should.

    I enjoyed reading the history of cake art. And getting to know the different cake decorating methods will help me identify and pay more attention to these distinctive elements.

    1. admin

      Hi Henry,

      Thank you for visiting and commenting on my website. It is great to meet like-minded people who appreciate beauty in the small details. Please visit again to read more future posts about cake artistry.



  8. Lok Which

    Thanks for sharing this post.It’s really informative.Recently I decided to learn cake artistry and coming across this post I know it’s something meant for me but I’m almost unfamiliar with all these cake decorating techniques, reading this post I’ve known the background of my work thanks .Can you please tutor me on how I can use any of these methods.

    1. admin

      Hi Lok,

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. I am happy that you found my post interesting. If you continue to visit my website, I will be posting in detail some of those techniques with videos and information to some of the best online courses I personally use. You can also email me

      It will be pleasure to help you develop your interest in cake artistry, so please visit again.

      Much regards.



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