Pat-a-Cake

“Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man”, “Pat-a-cake”, “patty-cake” or “pattycake” is one of the oldest and most widely known surviving English nursery rhymes. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 6486.

Lyrics

Common modern versions include:

Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can;
Roll it, Pat it and mark it with B,
Put it in the oven for baby and me.[1]
Patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can;
Roll it up, roll it up;
And throw it in a pan!
Patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man.[2][3]
Patty cake, patty cake, baker’s man.
Bake me a cake as fast as you can;
Roll it up, roll it up;
Put it in a pan;
And toss it in the oven as fast as you can!

Origins

The earliest recorded version of the rhyme appears in Thomas D’Urfey’s play The Campaigners from 1698, where a nurse says to her charges:

…and pat a cake Bakers man, so I will master as I can, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and prick it, and throw’t into the Oven.

The next appearance is in Mother Goose’s Melody, (c. 1765), in the form:

Patty Cake, Patty Cake,
Baker’s Man;
That I will Master,
As fast as I can;
Prick it and prick it,
And mark it with a T,
And there will be enough for Jacky and me.[1]

The game

A common style of playing pat-a-cake.

The rhyme is often accompanied by hand-clapping between two people, a clapping game. It alternates between a normal individual clap with two-handed claps with the other person. The hands may be crossed as well. This allows for a possibly complex sequence of clapping that must be coordinated between the two. If told by a parent to a child, the “B” and “baby” in the last two lines are sometimes replaced by the child’s first initial and first name.[1]

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