Angel food cake with whipped cream and slices of fresh strawberries on top on a concrete background. Summer dessert. Vertical orientation, copy space
The Strange-Looking Baking Tool That Once Preserved Delicate Cake Slices
By Nico Danilovich
Angel food cake, a fluffy but delicate dessert that uses egg-white meringue, has a problem — cutting a slice tends to squish it. An Ohioan named Cale J. Schneider lamented about the issue at a luncheon he attended with his wife, and he came up with an invention to fix it.
In 1932, Schneider patented the cake breaker, although you might not recognize it as a culinary utensil. Considering its decorative handle plus its over-a-dozen, evenly-spaced-out, cylindrical teeth, one could assume the cake breaker was actually an old timey hairbrush, but its true purpose was to slice delicate cakes, such as angel food, without squishing them.
Schneider opened a manufacturing plant that mass-produced the product, and Duncan Hines and Pillsbury Flour Mills bought hundreds of thousands of cake breakers over the course of two years, selling them alongside their cake mixes. Today, bakers still use similar specialty cutters known as angel food combs or rakes, which accomplish the same thing by sawing through the sponge.