Betty Crocker in Hollywoodland
February 13, 2007 2:09 PM   Subscribe

The history of cake has been long and varied, and many have interesting histories. Some are misleadingly named. However, few have had as mysterious and interesting a history as one of the 20th century's most famous cakes, the Chiffon.
From the always wonderful Rake Magazine.
posted by wander (23 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I was going to add some other notable articles from The Rake, but I decided to save those for another post, hopefully tomorrow.
posted by wander at 2:11 PM on February 13, 2007

I know it's a tiresome question, but are American cakes and British cakes very different? The article on chiffon cake talks of two types of cake, neither of which seem like the sort of rich fruit cake which I was brought up on in my UK youth.
posted by A189Nut at 2:42 PM on February 13, 2007

Interesting post. Thanks.

Reminds me a bit of a recent (rerun) episode of Good Eats on the Food Network where the always entertaining and snobby Alton was talking about angel food cake and I was equally impressed with the history and appalled at how much effort was needed just to make a "decent" cake. So I poured myself a whiskey and had another milano from the bag and just nodded along.

I'll be checking out Rake from now on too, thanks.
posted by elendil71 at 2:47 PM on February 13, 2007

The chiffon story was excellent, thank you.
posted by jokeefe at 2:51 PM on February 13, 2007

Some are misleadingly named

Like the Boston Cream Pie (really, it's a cake) invented at the Parker House Hotel where the Parker roll was also invented and the term 'scrod' coined. It's also where Ho Chi Minh was a busboy, Malcolm X a waiter and Emeril Lagasse a chef.
posted by ericb at 2:54 PM on February 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

ericb: Neat! I wouldn't have known that, since I've never actually had Boston Cream Pie, and I wouldn't have looked it up, for obvious reasons.
posted by wander at 3:08 PM on February 13, 2007

Good post. I loved the article about chiffon cake.
posted by routergirl at 3:21 PM on February 13, 2007

Oh my goodness, I am craving cake now. A piece of that Lady Baltimore would surely hit the spot. What have you done, wander? (But thanks for the sweet post!)
posted by Lynsey at 3:23 PM on February 13, 2007

The name "Boston Cream Pie" always confused me as a child, but that didn't stop me from always choosing it as my birthday cake. For me cake + gooey cream filling is far superior to cake + buttercream frosting. Speaking of which, has anyone ever had the Gooey Butter Cake? I like the name.

For years when company was expected for dinner, came my mother made German Chocolate Cake from scratch and that frosting was oh so, so good. Then abruptly she switched to Basked Alaska when it became popular in the 70's (and that was good, too.)

These days I don't mess much with cakes but every few weeks I do make my husband a Buttermilk Pound Cake to take in his lunch. It is dense and moist and not too sweet and it travels well.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 3:25 PM on February 13, 2007

Gooey Butter Cake is a big deal in St. Louis... or at least, one of those things you have to live here for 10 years and then see it on a Food Network show to find out is supposed to be a big deal in St. Louis.

It's... meh. A coffee cake that's slightly gooey. Pretty low in my personal cake hierarchy.
posted by Foosnark at 3:28 PM on February 13, 2007

I like cake!

/Father Jack
posted by patricio at 3:29 PM on February 13, 2007

For many many Brits cake is a made up drug which made up laugh at some many people. Its from eastern europe...
posted by bluefin at 3:32 PM on February 13, 2007

a189, very different; I found it odd he left out fruitcakes as the third type. I realize americans hate them, but they're also an omnipresent joke around christmas time.
posted by nomisxid at 4:20 PM on February 13, 2007

I'd like to take this opportunity to direct your attention to perhaps the most thoughtful and erudite comment concerning the subject of cake that has ever graced the pages of our beloved MetaFilter.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:43 PM on February 13, 2007

Americans generally despise fruit in cakes. (Yes, I know there are exceptions) and tend to like their cakes to not be all that dense, since they're usually eating it without custard or any sort of liquid.

Also, Americans can't eat spotted dick without making a comment on the name.
posted by dw at 4:48 PM on February 13, 2007

Mustn't forget Mardi Gras King Cake.
posted by ericb at 5:05 PM on February 13, 2007

I jusyt like SAYING the word:

No one ever got hurt from cake.
No one ever died from cake.
No sharp edges in cake.
Cake is safe.
Cake is a fluffy bunny.

Yummy post, wander
posted by Dizzy at 6:55 PM on February 13, 2007

The chiffon story was excellent, thank you.

Agreed. Great post.
posted by amyms at 7:25 PM on February 13, 2007

I figured German Chocolate Cake was so called because it is so un-chocolate, like anything I ever tasted in Germany. Funny to find it's not, even though it could be. I like it, although I usually prefer intense, heavy, moist, dark, chocolate cakes.
posted by Goofyy at 10:35 PM on February 13, 2007

Cake or death?

There is no such thing as leftover cake.
posted by cenoxo at 11:37 PM on February 13, 2007

Great post! But I still don't quite understand the difference between the chiffon cake and a genoise/sponge cake with beaten egg whites and butter (Yes, I know classic sponge has no fat and classic genoise has beaten whole eggs but many recipes ignore these for a "butter sponge". Julia Child has a couple of examples in the Mastering books). Does oil instead of butter make the difference?
posted by CCBC at 12:10 AM on February 14, 2007

Chiffon cake is yummy. What an interesting story of its inventor.


I am making "Chocolate Pudding Cake" from Cook's Country for Vday tonight. To me the moist warm chocolate cake is also its own genre of cake. I do think there are many more types than the 3 cited in the article.
posted by miss tea at 4:54 AM on February 14, 2007

The Chiffon article was fantastic, if a bit confusing at times. It could have done with a bit of editing to make the family relationships a bit clearer.
posted by empath at 5:37 AM on February 14, 2007

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