Every family has their signature bakes. The rich fruit cake that your Nan makes at Christmas. Your Mum's decadent chocolate cake that made an appearance at every birthday party. Your own gloriously gooey chocolate brownies. But what does cake mean for different people? How have we come to have such a huge variety of cakes? What had to happen historically for them to appear? And what can they tell us about the family, and women's roles in particular? Alysa Levene takes us on a journey from King Alfred to our modern-day love of cupcakes, via Queen Victoria's patriotic sandwich, the Southern States of America, slavery and the spice trade, to the rise of the celebrity chef.