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In France, the word 'gateau' designates various patisserie items based on puff pastry, shortcrust pastry (basic pie dough), sweet pastry, pate saglee, choux pastry, Genoese and whisked sponges and meringue...

Whereas a cake may remain fresh for several days after baking or even improve with keeping, a gateau usually includes fresh decoration or ingredients that do not keep well, such as fresh fruit or whipped cream.Casse-museau is a hard dry pastry still made today'...petits choux and gateaux feuilletes are mentioned in a charter by Robert, Bishop of Amiens in 1311." ---Larousse Gastronomique, completely revised and updated [Clarkson Potter: New York] 2001 (p. The original dividing line between cake and bread was fairly thin: Roman times eggs and butter were often added to basic bread dough to give a consistency we would recognize as cakelike, and this was frequently sweetened with honey.Terminologically, too, the earliest English cakes were virtually bread, their main distinguishing characteristics being their shape--round and flat--and the fact that they were hard on both sides from being turned over during baking..England the shape and contents of cakes were graudally converging toward our present understanding of the term.Cakes can last much longer, some even improving with age (fruit cake).Torte is the German word for cake, with similar properties.In medieval and Elizabethan times they were usually quite small...

Cake is a Viking contribution to the English language; it was borrowed from Old Norse kaka, which is related to a range of Germanic words, including modern English cook." ---An A to Z of Food and Drink, John Ayto [Oxford University Press: Oxford] 2002 (p. English borrowed gateau from French in the mid-nineteenth century, and at first used it fairly indiscriminately for any sort of cake, pudding, or cake-like pie...You will find references to him in French culinary history books.Cake recipes, Fannie Farmer's Boston Cooking School Cook Book [1918] What is the difference between cake, gateau and torte? It generally denotes items made with delicate ingredients which are best consumed soon after the confection is made (gateaux des roi).They are variously called fouaces, fouaches, fouees or fouyasses, according to the district...Among the many pastries which were in high favor from the 12th to the 15th centuries in Paris and other cities were: echaudes, of which two variants, the falgeols and the gobets, were especially prized by the people of Paris; and darioles, small tartlets covered with narrow strips of pastry...When tortes are multilayerd and fancifully decorated they are closer to gateaux EXCEPT for the fact they can last quite nicely for several days.