It’s one of the most cheerful days of the year- for May 7th is International Cake Day! Just two years into its inception and the cake day is already a phenomenon, like all things cake should be. Because cake spells deliciousness droolings and smacks of tasty mouthfuls, we can’t ever appreciate enough of these wonder goodies. And how better to celebrate this special day than discovering some of the most exotic cakes from around the world? So here’s listing 23 stunning varieties of cakes that will have you falling in an ever deep love with this divine desserty delight-
Definitely one of the most unique of cakes you will ever encounter is the Mongolian Ul Boov. Literally translating as ‘shoe sole cake’, the Ul boov is as distinctive in appearance as it is in essence. The traditional centerpiece of the nation’s Lunar New Year celebrations, Ul boov is made with sheep fat. Layers of shoe sole shaped fried cakes are decorated with chunks of sugar, wrapped candies, and aarul, a sweet hard cheese. While the layered arrangement definitely adds to the spectacle, each component of the cake tower also holds social significance.
More a pastry rather than a cake, suncakes are traditional desserts of Taiwan. Resembling the sun in appearance which lent them their name, suncakes are flaky on the outside and boasts a sweet maltose melt in the middle. Locally popular as taiyang bing, suncakes also can be enjoyed diversely. Pair it up with some Chinese tea for the perfect chai experience or mix them with water to make a porridge like dessert. These big, flat, round bites might not personify the cake name in appearance but they surely are no less delectable a sweet treat to relish.
A broad term for a range of unique cakes, spit cakes are of European origin. It is the preparation method of spit cakes which makes them a breed apart from other baked cakes. Spit cakes are made by depositing the cake batter on a rotating spit that is then cooked on an open flame. And there are quite some dramatic versions of the spit cake that make for fascinating food fables. Be it the spiked variant, a tubular one or even another that looks like a stack of doughnuts, spit cakes have to be one of the most interesting types of cakes. And evolving from its origins as far back as 400 BC, spit cakes definitely are legends in their own right!
A Japanese rice cake, mochi is the traditional food of the country during its New Year celebrations. However, the sticky sweet dominates the proceeding in a host of other celebrations as well. A low calorie, low fat rice cake, mochis are steamed rather than baked like typical cakes. Though essentially a plain rice cake with just water and sugar as the main add ons, modern varieties see also the incorporation of butter, milk and such other ‘cakey’ elements introduced in the mix.
It’s quite surprising that a dessert considered New York’s most iconic isn’t so much common knowledge when it comes to global recognition. But the traditional Jewish origin Babka remains a rich sweet treat irrespective of where it finds the most favour. Though Jewish babka have been around ever since the 19th century, it was only in the 2010s that its popularity flourished. Translating as ‘grandmother’s cake’ because it resembles an old woman’s skirt, the babka is sort of a cake- bread with modern versions being more cake like. Made from a doubled and twisted length of yeast dough and typically baked in a high loaf pan, babkas come with a cinnamon or chocolate filling.
A layered cake from Switzerland, Zuger Kirschtorte is a delightful bite into kirsch flavored nut- meringue, sponge cake and butter cream all at once. A century old cake that is as pretty to the senses as it is pleasurable to the palate, this dainty beauty has also won a couple of gold medals in pastry exhibitions in its 100 year long history.
A very rich and decadent Indian cake, Mawa cake is made from mawa or milk solids, that makes this preparation such a blissful bite to indulge in. The sweet richness of the mawa is infused with some mild spices and flavorful nuts to bake a cake that makes for a sinful splurge straight out of the oven!
A water what? That’s probably the first impression that this dope sounding dupe brings to your mind. But the water cake is indeed a traditional Italian delight and is as humble in preparation as it sounds. Soft and crumbly and therefore quite a refreshing diversion from standard moist cakes, a water cake will always suit all because of its inherently vegan essence. All you need is some flour, oil, sugar and water to make the most basic water cake ever! Trust the land of dainty delectables like tiramisus and panna cottas to whip up a sweet treat that is so effortlessly enriching!
For those of you not too adept with the intricacies of baking, here’s a no bake cake that Malaysia should delight you with. Called the batik cake, this one is a fridged serving that combines crushed biscuits with chocolate sauce or a runny custard for a sweet treat. A specialty during such celebrations as Eid ul fitr or Christmas, this easy dessert does well as a rich and simplistic serving, all in one.
Mooncakes are traditional sweet treats in China. A prominent feature of the Mid- Autumn Festival, mooncakes have originated as traditional offerings to the moon and are generally eaten for good luck. These round or square shaped stuffed pastries generally come with any varieties of filling, ranging from meat and sea food to chocolate and cheese. Like the filling, even the crust can take on different textures. Ranging from chewy to flaky to tender traditionally, these pretty, ‘design embossed’ mooncakes also are a part of the dessert platter in some other countries of the world.
A light cake with an airy texture, chiffon cakes are a native of the United States that is a distinctive health switch in its use of oil over animal fats. Moist and tender, chiffon cakes are generally baked in tube pans and cooled upside down for the most airiest of feels. The fluffiness is quite an achieved perfection, that involves separate beating of the egg yolks and whites. Traditionally, the chiffon cake pan isn’t greased which helps it rise more. Also because of the use of oil, chiffon cakes retain their moist state for a longer period of time.
A turmeric cake from Lebanon, Sfouf might sound like a savoury version of our much loved dessert. However, the use of turmeric speaks only in the bright yellow color the cake exudes. An almond- semolina cake in essence, this one’s for a pretty fuss free celebration. Easy to bake and simplistic in appearance, the resulting sfouf is however quite a delight, appeasing to the senses.
Galette des Rois
The King Cake or the cake of kings, France’s Galette des rois is a traditional must have during Christmas celebrations. Essentially made with layers of buttered puff pastry that can hold any variety of filling, but traditionally a creamy almond one, the king cake is quite a rich serving, even in its legacy. A 300 years old treat, which however started out as a bread, the Galette des Rois is also prepared as the King cake in a number of other countries of the world.
Quite a versatile cake in that it can be served both hot and cold, the Charlotte cake can be a bake or no bake treat as per your whims. A classic French dessert, this elegant cake needs you to line your pan traditionally with butter dipped stale bread which can then be filled with fruits and cream, mousse and custard, as per your liking. Pop it in the freeze or in the oven and treat your senses to a pretty sight of flamboyance and a rich taste of decadence.
A savoury cake that is not much different from a sandwich, Smörgåstårtas are of Swedish origin. But what makes this cream cheese and bread combo seem more like a cake is its many layerings and the final garnish. With egg and mayonnaise as the base, you can go on permuting and combining the toppings of your choice for a delectable smorgastarta. No wonder this savoury treat is also popularly referred to as a sandwich cake for obvious reasons.
Not a cake just for the depressed, the depression cake or wacky cake is very much a real thing. Stemming from the Great Depression of the 1930s, this is yet another essentially vegan cake. Like the water cake, the depression cake that originated in the United States does away with dairy staples like milk and butter or even eggs. However it still is a bit more ‘indulgent’ than the water cake. Even traditional versions of the Depression Cake incorporates bits of fruits like apples and pears and pieces of dried fruits like raisins and prunes. In fact, it is also sometimes called the Boiled Raisin Cake or the Poor Man’s Cake yet again for very obvious reasons. However, despite its supposed poor status, the depression cake is a real lifestyle veteran though!
Moravian Sugar Cake
A sweet coffee cake made from a yeasted dough with mashed potatoes, the Moravian sugar cake is a really moist and sweet treat. The mashed potatoes lend an altogether different flavour to the dough which is pored into by the fingers and poured with with a mixture of melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon on top. A rich treat enjoyed most in North Carolina, this works well as a holiday treat as well as a special Easter day breakfast.
Philippines‘ celebratory rice cake, the bibingka is quite a diversion from the cake catalog. More than a dessert, bibingka is enjoyed as a breakfast during the Christmas season. The combination of fermented glutinous rice paste with sweet and dense coconut milk makes bibingka quite a unique treat. A sticky texture characterises this traditional cake preparation which renders it quite different from otherwise soft or moist cakes. Also, traditional bibingkas remain resplendent in a smoky banana flavour, due to it being baked inside banana leaves over coal heat. Essentially not overwhelming in flavour, bibingkas are topped off with various combinations that make them essentially sweet or salty.
Fat Rascal is quite an outrageous name for a cake, which essentially is in fact a cross between a bun and a scone. Somewhat resemblant of rock cakes, fat rascals date back to the 15th century with however only a quirky modern day name. The most traditional recipes are a mingling of left over bits of dough and lard with honey and fruit before it is baked as a flat cake. Modern day Fat Rascals however are somewhat more extravagant with slightly smaller and less flatter buns that are cut into two and served generously slathered with butter.
Another distinctive Chinese cake is the crystal cake that has been around for more than eight hundred years now. A wheat flour based cake with a filling of granulated sugar, lard, nuts, pounded candies et al, the cake is so named because the filling is of a crystal appearance. This traditional dessert is definitely another unique sweet offering from the Chinese mainland.
A simplistic German cake that is baked on a tray, a butterkuchen is quite basically a butter cake. The yeasted sheet cake is a very popular accompaniment to the afternoon coffee in Germany because nothing sounds as warm as coffee and cake. With the fluffy yeast dough perfectly complementing the crisp sugar crust, Germany’s authentic butter cake is also a staple in its weddings as well as in funerals. No wonder butterkuchen is popular also as the joy and sorrow cake and the funeral cake. Quite versatile, must say.
A sticky chocolate cake native to Sweden, Kladdkaka is really a double delight. With the crisp exterior of a brownie and the gooey insides of a molten chocolate cake, the kladdkakas are a fairly popular treat in the whole of the nation. Though only a recent addition to the repertoire of Swedish cakes, the kladdkaka purportedly came into being during the second World War when baking powder wasn’t easily available. But as they say, whatever happens happens for the best. And in being such an exquisite treat, the Kladdkaka is definitely the happy outcome of a scarcity.
Perhaps the most recent of all cakes in the horizon is the spectacular Raindrop cake, that originated in Japan in 2014. Made of water and agar, this cake is so named not just after its raindrop shape but also its translucent raindrop like appearance. A mildly sweet cake sans any calories, the raindrop cake might even be the interpretation of a traditional Japanese dessert called the mizu shingen mochi. A pretty phenomenon but largely a tasteless tale in the mouth, the raindrop cake has caught the fancy of the world owing to its spectacular appearance.