Reader Cindy has been musing, she tells me, and is wondering why Black Forest cake only emerged as a phenomenon in the mid-20th century. If people in the Black Forest area had been eating sour cherries, cream and kirsch together for a hundred years or more by then, shouldn’t somebody somewhere have come up with a pastry?
My guess, Cindy, is that the rise of Black Forest cake was directly related to the advancement of refrigeration technology. Sweet cream, of the kind you need to make whipped cream, would have been a fairly rare commodity prior to about 1930. Without, say, refrigerated trucks you wouldn’t have been able to transport sweet cream very far before it soured. And that would have limited the ability of people outside dairying areas to either make or enjoy it.
One more example — speculative as this particular one may be — of the historic connection between pastry and technology.