Old Wives' Tales
Radio & TV
Toxin du jour
Legend: An unwary hostess tries to pass off a cake purchased at a bake sale as her own handiwork.
Example: [Brunvand, 1999]
Origins: Renowned folklorist Jan Harold Brunvand mentions the same story turned up in a Sydney, Australia, newspaper around 1980, also told there as a local occurrence.
Certain details of the tale lead one to conclude it's more a matter of lore than anything else. Angel food cake is traditionally baked in a special tube pan because this delicate confection calls for unusual baking methods. This version of a sponge cake will thus have a hole in the middle, with the cake presented as a tall, white ring. (Angel food cakes employ only the white of the egg, whereas sponge cakes call for both yolk and white, in case you were wondering what the difference is.)
Should an angel food cake fall as a result of improper baking, what would need to be repaired is not the hole in the middle, but the body of the cake itself. Inserting a toilet paper tube into the mass and trying to form up icing around it would not work. More simply stated, the hole is already there; what's missing is the cake.
This is a legend about dishonesty punished. The hapless hostess who boldfacedly claims the work of another as her own is about to be revealed for the liar she is. In an accidental fashion, the cake baker had included a copyright trap in her work.
Barbara "angel food for thought" Mikkelson
Last updated: 27 December 2004
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