Middle English Dictionary Entry

cāke n.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

(a) A flat cake or loaf; also, an unbaked cake or loaf, a lump of doug; haver (ote, oten) ~, a cake of oaten bread; therf ~, a cake of unleavened bread; barli ~, flouren ~, spiced ~; (b) bread of the Eucharist; also fig.; (c) in proverbs and idioms: as plat a ~, as flat as a cake; bolned as an oven ~, puffed up like a loaf in the oven; croked ~, misshapen loaf; nought a ~, not worth a lump of bread; (d) ~ bred, ?griddlecake.
A roundish flattened mass; grei ~, substance used by painters.
(a) Med. A cake containing (or made of) medicinal ingredients; (b) a pathological mass or growth within the body [cp. elf ~].

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1400 Trin-C O.9.39 Recipes (Trin-C O.9.39) 60/15,16 : Al þe sope schal fayre liggen on a broode cake abouen ȝour canevas, whiche sope, whanne ȝe see þat þe watre is clene ronne from, ȝe schal take and gadre clene vp from þe canevas and put hit in moldes.
  • Note: Additional quote, sense 2.. Antedates sense.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1400 Trin-C O.9.39 Recipes (Trin-C O.9.39) 22/16 : Make þy bagge so large þat þy saflour may ligge þerynne al plat þe þiknesse of þe gode myllers cake.
  • ?a1500 Lndsb.Nominale (Lndsb)788 : Hic panis subverucius, a meleres cake.
Note: We know from the recipe that 'miller's cake' is a flat cake of some kind; the Nominale appears to identify it specifically as a cake baked in ashes (trusting DMLBS, which refers ''subverucius' to 'subcinericius' , glossed as 'baked beneath or among hot ashes'). Clarke's gloss ("myllers cake n. = 'pressed linseed'") corresponds to modern agricultural usage, in which apparently 'Miller's cake' can denote concentrated animal fodder formed from linseed (so, for example, the County Council of Northumberland's Sixth Annual Report on Experiments with Crops and Stock at the County Demonstration Farm, Cockle Park, Morpeth (Newcastle, 1902), p. 23, or the Journal of the Board of Agriculture 10 (1904), p. 34); but we know of no evidence that "Miller's cake" meant compacted linseed fodder in the 14th century, or even that "miller" in the modern phrase refers to an occupation, as opposed to the name of a manufacturer. Hence MED's gloss: 'a flat cake ?baked in ashes.'

Supplemental Materials (draft)

Note: Med., etc., see further J.Norri, Dictionary of Medical Vocabulary, s.v. cake.