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Packaged Cake

Cake is a variety of sweet baked food item. It is generally a synergy of flour, a sweetening agent (commonly sugar), a binding agent (generally egg, though gluten or starch are used instead by vegetarians and vegans), fats (usually butter, shortening, or margarine), a liquid (milk, water or fruit juice), flavors and some form of leavening agent (such as yeast or baking powder). Rich and elaborate cakes are commonly the preferred dessert after meals at ceremonial occasions, particularly weddings, anniversaries and birthdays in the west

A Brief Historical Background
The boundaries between cake and bread, biscuit and bun are indistinct in the history of food items. The progenitor of all these products is bread in its simplest form. As techniques for baking and leavening developed, and eating patterns changed, what were originally regarded as forms of bread came to be seen as distinct categories of their own and named accordingly.

Cake is believed to have originated shortly after the discovery of flour by human beings in the ancient times. The cakes that we read of in the medieval English literature are not cakes as it has come to mean today. Those cakes were simple flour-based sweet foods meant to be distinctly different from breads, which were merely flour-based foods without sweetening. In fact, for long bread and cake were used interchangeably, with the cake meaning smaller breads.

The earliest evidence of cakes have been found by archaeologists from the Prehistoric Neolithic sites in the Swiss lake villages. These primitive variety of cake have been described as nothing but crushed grains, moistened, compacted and cooked on a hot stone. It is very similar to present day oatcakes or biscuit or cookie.

Ancient Egypt was the first culture to show evidence of true skill in bakin, making many kinds of bread including some sweetened with hone. The Greeks had a form of cheesecake and the Romans developed early versions of fruitcakes with raisins, nuts and other fruits. These ended up in 14th century Britain. Chaucer mentions immense cakes made for special occasions. One was made with 13 kilograms of flour and contained butter, cream, eggs, spices, currants and honey.


The Greeks used the word '/plakous/' meaning flat to refer to cakes. These cakes were usually combinations of nuts and honey. Another Greek cake that we come across in the culinary history is '/satura/', which was a flat heavy cake. During the Roman period cake was called placenta. They were also called '/libum/' by the Romans, and these were primarily used as an offering to the gods. Placenta was more like a cheesecake, baked on a pastry base, or sometimes inside a pastry case.

Moulds, in the form of cake hoops or pans have been used for forming cakes since at least the mid-17th century. Most cakes were eaten accompanied by a glass of sweet wine or tea. During this period cakes were baked for special occasions and hence were made of the the finest and most expensive ingredients available to the chef. As is evident from the paintings from this era where we see large banquets, elaborately decorated cakes

By the middle of the 18th century, yeast was used less often, being replaced by beaten eggs as a raising agent. Once as much air as possible had been beaten in, the mixture would be poured into molds, often very elaborate creations, but sometimes as simple as two tin hoops, set on parchment paper on a cookie sheet. It is from these cake hoops that our modern cake pans developed.

By the early 19th century, the Industrial Revolution made the cake-baker's life much easier. The chemical raising agent bicarbonate of soda, introduced in the 1840's, followed by baking powder ( a dry mixture of bicarbonate of soda with a mild acid), replaced yeast, providing a greater leavening power with less effort. Another technology breakthrough was more accurate temperature controlled ovens. By the mid-19th century the French were including a separate "sweet" course at the end of the meal which might include 'gateau.'


Market For Packaged Cake
The market for packaged and processed food is steadily growing, specially among urban consumers. However, the overall cake market performance in the recent times has been most influenced by changing consumer trends regarding health and wellness, demand for gourmet products and increased competition in the baked goods genre.

Consumers today are more health-aware and diet-driven than previous generations and, as a result, are demanding healthier choices even in their indulgences. The popularity of low-carb diets caused purveyors of cakes to meet the demand by launching numerous "low-carb" versions in the packaged cake category. As diet focus turned toward better general health, trans fat-free and whole grains variety of packaged cake emerged to cater to the demands. However, there is a need for diet-specific cakes and pies, such as sugar-free or low-fat, which can help consumers who are dieting or have diet restrictions (like diabetes) to satisfy a sweet tooth.

Indian Packaged Cake Market
If you thought pedas and burfis are our favourites hold your breath, cake eating has become a regular eating habit among Indians, though cake baking is not, as is evident in the low oven ownership in urban households. Yet we can sink our teeth into a chocolate or vanilla cake. The Indian consumer is spoilt for choice with a wide range packages cakes available in Indian market for desserts and sweets. The Indian cake market is estimated to be a whopping Rs. 300 crore one.

The market is just right for the new range of packaged cake products which must carry the same stamp of quality, integrity and expertise that local bakers have been providing over the ages, but in a more modern and convenient format.

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