Cake Stand

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Cake Stand - History And Information

Ever since the ceremony of afternoon tea came into prominence in late Victorian times, there has been a need for a way to display cakes at the table so that they can be easily seen by guests. This was achieved by altering the existing serving platters often called salvers. A cake stand draws attention to the cakes on offer this by elevating the cakes above other food on the table – so cake stands often have two or three tiers with a hooped handle above for carrying, or if there is only one tier, that is raised on a stem. They ‘make a stage’ for the cakes as Martha Stewart’s ‘Living’ Magazine described them.

Typical Cake Stand Materials

Cake stands are most commonly made from ceramics, but over time have been made from other materials such as glass (often pressed glass or more expensively, lead crystal); or metal - either silver plate for expensive stands, or pressed aluminum or steel. When we think of a cake stand, we are likely to imagine them round, but other shapes have been made. In the thirties, influenced by art deco design, there was a fashion for stands with square, hexagonal or even octagonal plates.

If the stand is made of glass or metal, its decoration will most likely be modest – perhaps a pressed design of flowers round the edge. But this can be enhanced with the restrained use of real flowers or foliage to decorate the stand when it is in use. With ceramic stands, designers often let rip, and multi-tiered stands in particular are embellished with painted decoration - a riot of roses or other summer flowers which gradually become revealed as the cakes are consumed. Single tier stands are often plainer, as the stand is often covered with a decorative doily which itself enhances the decorative effect.

Covered Cake Stand

Sometime a cake stand may have acover. But this suggests a certain degree of commercialism, as if the stands are in a shop window or a restaurant, and it often looks better not to use the cover, even if it is part of the original stand.

Tall Cake Stand

When events such as buffets or suppers are held, using a whole range of cake stands of varying heights can add interest and drama to a table full of food. And a cake stand need not only be used for cakes – they can also hold canapés and finger food. Try having cake stands stacked high with cookies of different types, strewn with candies of contrasting colors.

Where to find a cake stand?

Twenty years ago, this was often difficult because they had gone distinctly out of fashion, and you had to hunt in garage sales or out of the way antique dealers for examples left over from the fifties or earlier. Now kitchen suppliers always carry a wide range of modern stands. These are often very attractive. If you want something more classic, however, whether Victorian, or art deco, or art noveau, you may now have to pay quite a lot. But it will be an investment, as well as a talking point for your next party, and maybe even become an heirloom to hand on to your children. So if you find a cake stand for $100 you really like, consider buying it – and enjoy using it!


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