But, before we get to how to make and bake a cake, here's a brief history lesson. As it happens modern cakes (at least the way we bake them today) are a fairly recent invention, starting in Italy during the first half of the 18th century. By the 1740s these 'Italian Style Cakes' were all the rage in London. So, what had changed? Well, prior to the 1700s the traditional raising agent in cakes had been yeast. Cakes were, basically, just sweetened breads. However, with the new techniques yeast was replaced by beaten egg whites.