“Let Them Eat Cake”




By Jill Lowe




Do you have a cake tin Jill?

Well No, I only have a springform pan.

Hmmmmm… No, that won’t do, said my friend.

In relating the request to another friend, she said that not having a cake tin was UN-AMERICAN. Oh no!

Thus I purchased the 6” round tins for a triple layer cake. MANY, MANY hours later, and a sink filled with all baking equipment, the lemon poppyseed cake was ready. Delicious yes….. but honestly the pâtisseries and cake stores have amazing cakes, and we have so many sources for cakes in Chicago!

I won’t repeat making another cake.

But even though I don’t bake cakes, many do, and many decorate in exquisite detail with such imagination, and flair.

All over, cakes being made with personal interests depicted, sports memorabilia, family events. Truly the range of skill and ingenuity is astonishing, not to mention the extreme attention to detail and care, especially impressive when using such volatile and unstable materials as frosting and decorating pipes.

One such superb example representing an illuminated manuscript was for the Edible Book April Fool’s Day Tea at Columbia College Book and Paper Center a few years ago.It was designed, baked and decorated Susan Leonard Hanes, past president of the Caxton club.org.

Image: kind permission of Susan Leonard Hanes, Chicago

Origin of “Let Them Eat Cake”?

Usually attributed to Marie Antoinette but there are dissenters to this notion, citing no evidence that Marie-Antoinette ever said this. But we do know people have been attributing the phrase “Qu’ils mangent de la brioche” to her for nearly two hundred years — and debunking it for just as long.

Apparently, the Romans baked birthday cakes.

Children’s birthday parties originated in Germany, with the 18c. Kinderfeste as a party for a child.

Putting candles on cakes was a Greek invention. Worshippers brought moon-shaped cakes to the Temple of Artemis: the goddess of the moon and the hunt, with candles to have them glow like the moon.

We use cakes for any and all celebrations: Wedding, Graduation, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, Gender Reveal, Bar and Bat Mitzvah, Christmas, Eid Mubarek after Ramadan, Birthday, and Farewell. Too, different countries have bakeries with their specialties.

What is about to take the nation’s attention after Fathers Day is July 4th and the array is superb.

Image license Shutterstock

Flag cakes say it all

Image license Shutterstock

Image license Shutterstock

Image license Shutterstock

Flag cake “Borani”: variation of Iranian dish made with drained yoghurt or labneh

Image kind permission Justine Balin

Image kind permission Justine Balin


“you can’t have your cake and eat it too”

Originates from the the oldest known use of the proverb in a letter from Thomas, Duke of Norfolk to Thomas Cromwell in 1538. In British English, the last word is often omitted from the proverb, as in you can’t have your cake and eat it. Or as James Joyce quoted “You cannot eat your cake and have it.”

AND how about origins of “Cakewalk” and “Piece of Cake” to connote easy, and “That takes the cake”- to receive top honors in a situation, though often used sarcastically.

The Cakewalk was originally a 19th-century dance, invented by African-Americans in the antebellum South. It was intended to satirize the stiff ballroom promenades of white plantation owners, who favored the rigidly formal dances of European high society.

After Emancipation, the contest tradition continued in black communities; the Oxford English Dictionary dates the widespread adoption of “cakewalk” to the late 1870s. It was around this time that the cakewalk came to mean “easy”—not because the dance was particularly simple to do but rather because of its languid pace and association with weekend leisure.

Cakewalk contests also gave rise to two other well-worn clichés—”That takes the cake!” and “Piece of cake.” The latter phrase, which also means easy, is believed to have first been used in print by humorist Ogden Nash in The Primrose Path. around 1935.

Also the origin of Piece of cake is also attributed to the Royal Air Force in the late 1930s for an easy mission, but truly its use in 1930’s may not negate the origin from Cakewalk in the antebellum south.

Hey, even QUICKEN uses the term
“piece of cake.”

Cakes for all occasions – so beautifully decorated!

“Because the sweeter the cake, the more bitter the jelly can be”. Lady Gaga



Image Courtesy Justine Balin

Image License Shutterstock
Simnel Easter cake : rich fruit cake topped with marzipan-popular in UK
For further reference on fruitcakes, read Elizabeth Richter’s article in
Dec 4 issue of this magazine.
“Ah Fruitcake! Love it , Hate it, Bake it”

Festive food Ramadan and Eid : Golden cake with a Crescent moon
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It’s been said that the Opera cake was unveiled at the Paris Culinary Exhibition of 1903 by famed pastry chef Louis Clichy.

Opera cake is made with layers of almond sponge cake soaked in coffee syrup, layered with ganache and coffee buttercream, and covered in a chocolate ganache. Symphony is Frederic’s take on this French classic. Frederic Loraschi


Opera Cake La Nouvelle Maison

“A party without cake is really just a meeting” Julia Child

Cupcakes topped with an “Iced Vo Vo”- a biscuit topped with pink fondant, flanking a
strip of raspberry jam, sprinkled with coconut -a favorite with Australians

Cupcakes topped with an “Iced Vo Vo”- a biscuit topped with pink fondant, flanking a
strip of raspberry jam, sprinkled with coconut -a favorite with Australians

Cupcakes topped with an “Iced Vo Vo”- a biscuit topped with pink fondant, flanking a
strip of raspberry jam, sprinkled with coconut -a favorite with Australians

Date loaf : so good with butter

Halloween cake pops

Fig and Chocolate tart

Justine Balin creations : cup cakes

Justine Balin creations : cake pops

Justine Balin creations: Cookies for a fraternity

A canelé de Bordeaux is a small French pastry flavored with rum and vanilla with a soft and tender custard center and a dark, thick caramelized crust. It takes the shape of a small, striated cylinder up to five centimeters in height with a depression at the top. Image from Verzênay at Green City Market, Lincoln Park Chicago

THE REVEAL CAKE- is this a new thing in the last 30 years?

Image license Shutterstock

AGE & ANNIVERSARY related cakes

Image kind permission Priscilla Thwaites “Sugar Savvy”

Image kind permission Priscilla Thwaites “Sugar Savvy”

Image kind permission Justine Balin xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx xxxxx 



Image kind permission Justine Ban

Image kind permission Priscilla Thwaites “Sugar Savvy”

Image kind permission Priscilla Thwaites “Sugar Savvy”

Image kind permission Priscilla Thwaites “Sugar Savvy”


Image kind permission Justine Balin

Image kind permission Justine Balin

Sugar Savvy” cakes by Priscilla Thwaites. Amazingly intricate!

Cakes for children with special needs

Not for Profit organizations giving cakes are available. Most enlist volunteers to bake the cakes.

Criteria to engage volunteers, nominate recipients, and request cakes are on each site

Savvy Cakes contributes to Cake Angels in Australia  Cake Angels aims to make the birthdays and other significant events of seriously ill children extra special, by donating custom-designed celebration cakes in a theme that is personalized and meaningful to them.
Cake4Kids Serves At-Risk and Underserved Youth

Cake4Kids partners with agencies that support youth (ages 1-24) who are at-risk or underserved, including youth in foster care, group homes, homeless shelters, transitional and low income housing, domestic violence or human trafficking shelters, substance abuse programs, and refugees.

Children remain amazingly resilient even in the worst of circumstances but often suffer from self-esteem issues and withdraw into themselves. At Cake4Kids, our goal is to show them that we care and raise their self-esteem by delivering a smile on their birthday.

Icing Smiles is a nonprofit organization that provides custom celebration cakes to families impacted

For Goodness Cakes

For Goodness Cakes matches volunteers to make and hand-deliver birthday cakes to children in foster care and at-risk youth on their special day.

“A person may not want any more of his cake; but that is no reason for giving it away.”

― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Lamington Cake is an Australian dessert of sponge cake, or squares of sponge cake dipped in chocolate, then rolled in coconut. The word lamington means layers of beaten gold.

WEDDING CAKES so many variations

“The most dangerous food is wedding cake.”James Thurber

Wedding cakes can be tiered cup cakes or even Croquembouche -choux pastry puffs piled into a cone and bound with threads of caramel.

Cheese Wheels Wedding Cakes are in vogue at the moment.


Image: kind permission Sally Ellick

“Nothing in life is a piece of cake; well, except an actual piece of cake.”

Hiba Fatima Ahmad


Notes, References & Sources
Image of Jill: Joe Mazza Bravelux inc.
Photos not attributed- copyright © 2022 Jill Lowe. All rights reserved
Bride magazine. UK
Othello Cheese Wedding Cake Gallery Australia
Fine Cheers Wedding Cake Gallery UK
Cakes Chicago
The Cheese School of San Francisco
Real Cheese Wedding cake at the Cheese Maven Chicago
North Shoer Kosher Bakery Chicago
Verzenay Patisserie Chicago
Vanille Patisserie Chicago
Bittersweet Chicago
Sweet Mandy B’s
Bake Chicago
Bjorn Chicago
Alliance Bakery Chicago
Cocoa Eve Chicago
Pierres Bakery Chicago
Bridgeport Bakery
Caxton club.org
Frederic Loraschi
La Nouvelle Maison
Sugar Savvy
Cakes 4 Kids
Icing Smiles
For Goodness Sake
Euro Patisserie