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
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!