Last weekend I was eating a delicious piece of lemon drizzle cake that my boyfriend’s sister had made (I think it was from this Mary Berry recipe) when I was offered a cake fork to help me eat it. As I’d already started tucking into my cake square I decided that I might as well carry on eating it with my fingers. However, had I not been so eager to eat the cake, I would have opted for a fork as the cake was definitely sticky and moist enough to need one!
I love cake forks, they’re so dainty and perfectly sized for their purpose. I’ve been doing some reading to see if I can find out when cake forks were first used. The history of the fork in general is really interesting. In Europe, it became popular in southern countries such as Italy first, then spread up to France and finally to northern Europe. Apparently northern Europeans were reluctant to use forks (instead of their hands) because they considered their use to be ‘an unmanly Italian affectation’! I couldn’t find any specific mention of cake forks but I suspect that they were introduced by the Victorians who seemed to have a piece of cutlery for almost every type of food!
I had also been wondering about the etiquette around cake eating and when to use a fork. The general rule about when to use a fork relates to potentially how messy it will be to eat it. If the cake is relatively dry then its apparently okay to eat it with your fingers but if the cake is moist (like lemon drizzle!) then it’s good etiquette to eat it with a fork. Oops, I must remember that for next time!
Pretty much all of the cake forks that we’ve bought and sold have been silver-plated or EPNS (Electro-plated Nickel Silver). These forks are usually made of a copper alloy with nickel and zinc and have a layer of silver on the outside. Although EPNS forks are not as valuable as sterling silver, many of them are extremely pretty and have a quality and feel to them that for the non-expert like me is perfectly acceptable!
Silver-plated forks often have the makers name on the back and if they are particularly good quality they also have ‘A1’ stamped on the back. This indicates that the silver-plating is relatively thick. These are the ones that we try to look out for where possible, although many of the regular silver plated forks are lovely too.
I like photographing forks because of the freedom to place them in different configurations to emphasise their patterns and shapes. Different patterns look good with each other too and I think that it would be nice to collect a mismatched set.
Hope you’ve enjoyed my journey into the world of cake forks. Do you use any cake forks for your afternoon teas?