“A great empire, like a great cake, is most easily diminished at the edges,” American statesman Benjamin Franklin said some 300 years ago.
The globe has changed since then. Realms have fallen. New nations have emerged. Our world has become smaller, but as this global look at cakes suggests, it still holds great diversity and imagination – perhaps even inspiration.
Japan has an interesting array of sweet cakes, with flavour and texture combinations that are arguably far from the palate of most western consumers. Not surprisingly, new products highlight the flavours of traditional Japanese cuisine, including sweet potato (Yamazaki Naruto Kintoki Mushi Pan’s sweet potato steamed bun) and green tea (Uchi Café’s rice cake stuffed with sweetened bean jam and green tea cream).
Health claims are also important to the modern Japanese consumer, with Yamazaki Baking’s new pumpkin cakes topped with wheat bran and pumpkin seeds delivering 8.6g of dietary fibre. What’s more, the product is also sweetened with naturally-derived sugar substitute erythritol and calorie-free sugar substitute Acesulfame-K.
In China, most homeowners as well as a significant number of restaurant and catering operators, do not have ovens in which to bake cakes. As a result, sweet concoctions are often steamed or pan-fried and include prominent vegetable flavours. Rice flour is not only abundant in Asia, but its glutinous characteristic symbolises family cohesiveness and, accordingly, is a popular choice among consumers.
Rice Cake, such as that from Chinese company Guanjun, is a simple formulation made from rice, glutinous rice, water and a preservative. Red bean may be added for flavour. Other companies, such as Guang Zhou Shi Li Wan Qu Hong Feng Shi Pin Chang, add fruit flavour, with mini fragrant rice cakes offered with strawberry, orange or apple flavoured varieties.
Some of Thailand’s cakes are somewhat more reminiscent of western culture, at least by way of name. Popular baking company Big One offers OK Chocolate Cake, consisting of wheat flour, vegetable oil, sugar, egg and chocolate cream. At 7 Eleven – a popular retailer for affordable sweets and baked goods – consumers can find President Bakery‘s Farmhouse Cake Roll with Blueberry Flavour. European Food Company also has a prominent portfolio in Thailand that includes Euro Cake Filled With Strawberry, Euro Marble Cake with Chocolate Cream Filling, Euro Pandan Cake and Euro Custard Cake.
On the Swiss-Italian border consumers can find a traditional Linzer Torte Cake with Raspberry Jam Filling from Migros. The company also offers the Migros Royal Torte described as a special tart cake with raspberry jam filled biscuits and the Migros Aprikosentorte Apricot Cake.
German company Kuchenmeister is proving popular with the Kuchenmeister Erdbeer-Rolle, Cake Roll with Strawberry Cream Filling, Kuchenmeister Butter-Streusel, Butter Crumble Cake and Kuchenmeister Mohn-Streusel, Poppy Crumble Cake.
Several bakers in France are currently providing sponge cakes. Among these are Le Ster’s 8 Etoiles pur Beurre Sponge Cakes; Milka Choco Tutti Sponge Cake Filled and Topped with Milk Chocolate by Kraft; St Michel’s Tronches De Cake Sponge Cake Filled with Chocolate (pictured); and Ker Cadelac’s Rondement Bon L Original: Original Sponge Cake. Latelier St Michel claims to authentically bake in the French tradition and proudly declares its cakes are made with premium ingredients including 100 per cent French wheat from sustainable farming.
In the United Kingdom, Mr Kipling offers packages with assorted servings, such as 4 Chocolate Mini Classic Cakes, 5 Chocolate Chequer Cakes, 5 Strawberry Chequer Cakes, and 6 Shock and Orange Slices. McVities has also released a twin pack of Chocolate Cake Tickled Pink in support of Asda’s Tickled Pink Campaign. Meanwhile, Greencore has given consumers an adult-orientated line of party cakes. Their Keep Calm And Celebrate Party Cake (pictured) is a moist madeira sponge cake layered with vanilla flavour frosting and fruity plum and raspberry jam, finished with soft icing. Even the keep calm message is edible.
Baking companies in the United States are experimenting with less playful, but nevertheless indulgent, cakes and sweets. Sara Lee’s Lemon Pound Cake is a fun twist on Butter Pound Cake and adds a distinct sweet lemon kick – perfect for after dinner desserts or even the region’s preference for sweet breakfast goods. Original Pound Cake Slices serve up the traditional recipe in single slices. Double Chocolate Pound Cake Slices – which combine cocoa flavours with the classic butter pound cake – have also been released on to the market for a quick personal dessert.
As in many western countries, the gluten-free market is burgeoning in the US, with Amy’s Kitchen taking advantage of the trend with its Amy’s Gluten Free Pound Cake. With a wholesome positioning, the company’s Organic Orange Cake is made with wheat but is suitable for vegan consumers. The ingredient statement is clean: Organic wheat flour, organic evaporated cane juice, organic orange juice, filtered water, organic high oleic safflower, organic apple cider vinegar and organic vanilla extract.