Recipes We Love

8 Birthday Cakes From Around the World

DISCLAIMER: Don’t read on an empty stomach!

Can you recall the best birthday cake you ever had? Many people can remember with vivid detail the decadence of a thoughtfully cooked birthday treat.

Cakes are a tradition that many cultures use to celebrate birthdays. Most Americans have at least one piece of cake on their birthday.

But you may be surprised to learn what other people around eat to celebrate their birthday. It’s not all cake, and it’s not always sweet. Some are even savory! Here is a glimpse of what birthday “cakes” look like in 8 different countries:

1. Australia

The classic birthday treat down under is a light and fluffy meringue cake. Pavlova is usually topped with cream and local, colorful fruits like kiwi and passionfruit.

Australian Birthday Cake

2. Indonesia

In Indonesia, many holidays celebrations include a savory cake made of rice and vegetables. Its layers of yellow rice symbolize wealth and prosperity for the birthday individual.

3. China

Pear-shaped pastries filled with lotus paste are often birthday gifts. In Chinese literature, the pear symbolizes immortality and long life, a wish for aging Chinese people.

4. England

The British often mix a symbolic item into their birthday cakes. A coin symbolizes wealth, or a thimble is a sign the person won’t marry.

5. Denmark

Danish birthday cakes for children are called kagemands or kagekones. Usually the rolled out pastry is shaped like a cake woman or man and is then decorated with candy, chocolate, and icing. Children enjoy the tradition of cutting the cake into pieces. The birthday boy or girl gets to eat the head.

6. Ghana

In Ghana cake is not as common. Instead breakfast treats are served during birthday celebrations. Kelewe, is a go-to, consisting of fried plantains spiced with ginger and pepper.

7. Chile

Chileans enjoy merengue birthday cakes with fruit fillings. Lucama, a traditional fruit, that tastes like sweet custard, is a popular flavor for filling. In many Latin American countries, it is traditional to have the “cumplenero” and bite into the cake without utensils, while their friends and family push their face into the cake.

8. Italy

The cassata/rum cake or just the “birthday cake” in Italy, is three or four layers of sponge cake soaked in a rum flavoured mixture, filled with vanilla and chocolate pasty cream (pasticciera) and topped with whipped cream icing and garnished with nuts. Some versions involve covering the cake with a shell of marzipan, pink and green pastel icing and candied fruit, especially citrus fruits grown in the various Italian regions.

Looking to bring something different to your next birthday celebration? Check out Sweet Sanctuary! We offer baked goods and treats from all over the world.

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About Us

Sweet Sanctuary furthers refugee integration in the Oakland community through delicious, multicultural baked goods.

Oakland has a large population of refugees. Once refugees are admitted into the United States, they are faced with many new challenges. One of the biggest challenges is employment primarily due to their low level of English proficiency and lack of formal work experience. The Sweet Sanctuary provides employment, English language classes, and other business related skill trainings to the refugee women who struggle most due to these reasons.

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Our Bakers

Our employees are from various countries including Bhutan, Burma, Iraq, Iran, Eritrea, and Afghanistan. They utilize the baking skills and recipes which they know from their home countries. This allows the Sweet Sanctuary to provide a unique variety of offerings for customers. Our customers can enjoy, in addition to luxury of high-quality baked goods, learning about the culture and history of the countries of our employees.

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Our mission

Sweet Sanctuary promotes two-way cultural exchange between refugees and natives of the community, and thus the integration of refugees into the community.