The first mention of cake appears in a Shakespearean sonnet in 1592.
Shall I compare thee to a summer cake?
Thou art more lovely and more decadent.
In 1755, the Earl of Earlingstone-Hamshire-Winthropp (nicknamed “The Earl of Earl,” for obvious reasons), on the eve of his 100th birthday, received a lovely layered dessert made of boozy pound cake, whipped cream, and sweet brandied plums. Baked by Mrs. Eleanor Peavey, longtime cook of the Earl and his family, it was cake‘s first public appearance in 150 years. The centenarian clapped his hands in surprise, knocking over a candelabra; within seconds, the brandied plums burst into flames over six feet tall, overtaking The Earl of Earl before engulfing the room completely. Everyone at the residence perished that night.
Two cake traditions from that tragic evening continue to this day:
1. Providing flame-retardant sweets for every special occasion.
2. Adding candles to birthday cake to raise awareness for the aristocracy.