5 elaborate cakes with equally elaborate names
Readers with a sweet tooth will be interested to note that at the end of July each year, dessert-lovers around the world celebrate Cheesecake Day. As well as being the perfect excuse to indulge, Cheesecake Day honours a cake thought to have its origins in Ancient Greece, which just goes to show that not much has changed when it comes to the human love of cake. As far as cake names are concerned, cheesecake pretty much does what it says on the tin, but the same can’t be said of these interestingly-named creations…
1. Alhambra Sponge
Followers of The Great British Bake Off (shown in the US as The Great British Baking Show) may recall the decadent Alhambra sponge, a glistening, ganache-covered hazelnut concoction infused with a rum and coffee syrup, filled with chocolate, and decorated with pieces of pistachio and a marzipan flower. Closely related to the more famous Austrian Sachertorte, this elaborate recipe is named after the Moorish fortress of Alhambra in Spain; it’s said that the pistachios and flower represent its beautiful gardens.
2. Battenberg Cake
It’s everyone’s favourite teatime cake, but it hasn’t always been known as Battenberg. The yellow and pink chequered, marzipan-covered treat was known variously as Domino Cake, Church Window Cake, and Neapolitan Roll before allegedly being given its current name to celebrate the 1884 marriage of Prince Louis of Battenberg to a granddaughter of Queen Victoria, also called Victoria. The Battenberg family, whose name comes from a town of the same name in Germany, are known in Britain as Mountbatten (mount being a translation of the German Berg), with numerous members of the British Royal Family taking the surname ‘Mountbatten-Windsor’.
Another cake with royal connections, this striking green creation (known in English as Princess Cake) originated in a 1948 cookbook written by the woman who taught the daughters of Prince Carl of Sweden and Norway. Cake was a particular favourite of the young princesses, and this is a magnificent one: a decadent dome of sponge cake topped with whipped cream and a layer of luminous green marzipan.
The name of this elaborate cake literally means ‘wreath cake’, and it’s a staple at Danish and Norwegian weddings. The name of the original version is even better – overflødighedshorn (‘horn of plenty’), and it’s shaped like a cornucopia – another word which translates as ‘horn of plenty’, this time from Latin – and filled with chocolates and other tempting things. The cake has at least 18 layers, and tradition dictates that the bride and groom find out how many children they’ll have based on the number of rings that stick to the top layer when they lift it off at their wedding.
5. Spanische Windtorte
The name of this complicated meringue and cream-filled cake translates, as you might have guessed, to ‘Spanish Wind Cake’, and it’s another one you might remember if you’re a keen Great British Bake Off fan. It’s not clear where the ‘wind’ bit comes from, but it’s called ‘Spanish’ because that was the culture with which the Austrian House of Habsburg (then among the most important in Europe) were preoccupied at the time the cake reached peak popularity.