A History of Cake Decorating

We’ve been creating magical birthday cakes for generations at Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses but we thought we’d take a look back at the origins of Cake Decorating.

It was during the 1840’s that the baking of cakes became more widespread. The introduction of temperature controlled ovens and the production of baking powder gave a lot of bakers more control of the cakes that they were creating!

The First Decorated Cakes

Cake decorating is a relatively new concept compared to cake baking and the practice dates back to the mid-17th century in Europe. Cakes were originally decorated for the purpose of being on display at banquets and parties held by European aristocracy. Even back then, cakes were characterized by elaborate designs and colourful accents.

It seems that decorated cakes made their first appearance in England during the reign of Elizabeth I. The food of this era was becoming exotic and extravagant, with new culinary discoveries brought back from around the empire there were some extraordinary centrepieces brought out to amaze and delight guests at banquets.

Cake decorating was rumoured to start by a French bakery in the 1840’s where a French baker wanted to increase the prices of the cakes and hence thought to decorate it. It was the French who, during the 19th century, popularized the concept of dessert and brought decorated cakes to people’s dining tables.

Cake Decorating at Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses

At Ferguson Plarre Bakehouses, it was Bob Ferguson who was the catalyst for a Cake Decorating revolution.

In August 1949, Bob placed an advertisement in the local newspaper offering an “excellent opportunity for a female cake decorator”. Things weren’t quite as simple as just hiring a cake decorator though – bringing in female cake decorators spurred some major bakery renovations which saw (amongst other things) a special area being created for the decorators.

It was still a part of the bakehouse, but remained separated from the main area by glass walls. This meant that while the light was not restricted from the room, the young boys working in the bakehouse were separated from the young girls working in the decorating room.

To be honest, it’s not that different now. Nine out of every 10 cake decorators looking to work for Ferguson Plarre are girls with young Mums and grand-mums topping the list!

Order a Cake for your next Celebration today. From Birthdays to Engagements, we’ve got a cake for every excuse to party!