A Brief History of Cake Decorating

A Brief History of Cake Decorating


Although, it’s difficult to say exactly when it started. Historians believe that the practice of decorating cakes began somewhere in the mid 17th Century. (if you’re like me and don’t remember history class very well then think English Civil War and Oliver Cromwell).


This was roughly about the same time that cake pans (which you can get at the Cake Decorating Company for 10% off on all orders when you sign-up for a premium or pro account with Paul Bradford?) became a common household item in Europe. A factor which would soon lead to cake decorating becoming an increasingly popular way to impress wealthy guests at banquets and dinner parties.


Cake Decorating is born…

However, it wasn’t until the 19th Century that cake decorating as we know it was born. During the 1840’s, the production of baking powder rose & the availability of temperature controlled ovens made cake baking easier. This in turn, led to more emphasis on presentation & design.

The French at this time had begun serving desserts as a separate course, with that it is thought that France was where the trend started. Although there are no facts surrounding these claims, many believe that cake decorating started in a French bakery. The clever baker in question was thought to have begun decorating cakes as a way to raise their prices.


Old cake decorating methods…

Think you’ve got it tough trying to make an impressive cake on a shoestring budget? Thank your lucky stars you weren’t a cake decorator in the 19th Century!

Back in the 1840’s, the majority of cake decorating consisted of decoration with dimensional over piping. This was an old English method, which was far from easy, where cakes were covered in rolled fondant with the borders carefully over piped.

In Ernest Schulbe’s book Advanced Piping and Modelling it’s highlighted that some of the cake decorating tools used back then were still in circulation today. However, back then they were made from bone rather than plastic.


Cake decorating tutorials begin…

In 1929, the first cake decorating classes came to fruition. The Wilton School opened and started teaching many chefs how to decorate cakes effectively with a series of classes.

A few years after the school was opened, Joseph Lambeth wrote the Lambeth Method of Cake Decoration and Practical Pastries. A now classic step-by-step cake instructional book for cake decorators. Lambeth’s methods revolutionized the way cake decorating was constructed.

Modern Cake decorating

Despite being one of the newer culinary arts, cake decorating has evolved remarkably in such a short amount of time. From simple decorative patterns in the 19th Century, modern-day cakes can now stand ten feet tall, resemble animals, people, characters, and objects and even feature mechanics!

However, even though we do have a lot better equipment than most of our ancestors, we still have to deal with many first world problems to deal with…


How do you see cake decorating changing in the future? Let us know in the comments below!





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