The birthday cake has been an integral part of the birthday tradition in Western cultures. The cake is served to a person on his or her birthday, and is often decorated with small novelty candles, with the person's name and/or a message of congratulations inscribed with icing. The phrase "Happy Birthday" did not appear on birthday cakes until the song Happy Birthday to You was popularized in the early 1900s.
Tradition holds that the person with the birthday may make a wish, which will come true if all the candles can be blown out in one breath. US patent 6319530 relates to a "method of photocopying an image onto an edible web for decorating iced baked goods." This invention enables one to ink jet print a food-grade color photograph on the cake surface.
History of Birthday Cake can be traced back to the ancient Greeks who made round or moon shaped honey cakes or bread and took it to the temple of Artemis -the Goddess of Moon. Some scholars, however, believe that the tradition of Birthday cake started in Germany in middle Ages. This special birthday cake later reemerged in Germany as a Kinderfest or the birthday celebrations of a young child. Germans also baked another special kind of a cake called Geburtstagorten as it was baked in layers. This was sweeter that the coarse and bread like cake that were usually made at that time.
In earlier times, Birthday cakes were mostly round in shape. Scholars associate religious beliefs and technical compulsions for the same. Greeks offered round shape cake to the Goddess of Moon - Artemis as it signified moon. They even placed candles on the cake to make the cake glow like the moon.
Technical reason given for the roundness of the cake is that most cakes we know off advanced from the bread. In ancient times breads and cakes were made by hand. Typically, these were fashioned into round balls and baked on hearthstones or in low, shallow pans. Hence, these naturally relaxed into round shapes. With the progress of times baking pans of various shapes were developed and today we see cakes in imaginative shapes and sizes.
In medieval times people of England used to place symbolic objects like coins, rings and thimbles in the batter of the cake. It was believed that those who found coin in the cake would be wealthy while the unlucky finder of the thimble would never marry. If the cake fell while baking it was considered to be a bad omen and signified bad luck for the person in the coming year.
Thus in the midst of many superstitions and beliefs, merged the tradition of Birthday cakes which is so popular all over the world today.