Who were the first to make cake?

If by that you mean not just a round, flat thing that’s edible, but a sweetened and/or enriched bread, then there is some traceable history there. The Egyptians were known to make good cake, handy as they were with yeast, and wont to add things like honey to their breads. According to ancient records the occupants of the Greek island of Rhodes were known to make a mean cake, which in Greek was known as a plakous, a word which comes from the same root as — you guessed it — the Greek word for “flat”. The Romans had cake-like items they called satura which were made from barley mixed with things like pine nuts, raisins, pomegranate seeds and wine. Talk about a thing that was loaded with ingredients…saturated, ehem, if you will.

Bread-like, but also sweet, sometimes chock full o’ nuts and/or fruits, this is how cakes progressed along into the Middle Ages, when a firm distinction finally began to be made between breads and proper cakes. For that was the time when cakes came to be truly rich, with the addition of things like butter and eggs, to say nothing of sweeteners, spices, dried fruits and cream. Still leavened with yeast, they were more like super-enriched breads than they were modern cakes. Those would have to wait for certain technical innovations which I shall discuss a bit later.

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