Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man

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"Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man"
William Wallace Denslow's illustrations for Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man, from a 1901 edition of Mother Goose
Nursery rhyme

"Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man", "Pat-a-Cake", "Patty-cake" or "Pattycake" is an English nursery rhyme. It has a Roud Folk Song Index number of 6486.[1]


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 a B
Put it in the oven for Baby and me.[2]


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.[2]

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;
Pat it and prick it,
And mark it with a T,
And there will be enough for Tommy and me.

Marking pastry or baked goods with an identifiable mark may stem from a time when households without an oven of their own could take their items to a local baker or bake house, paying to have their items finished for a small fee. Marking the pastry would have been a way to ensure the return of the proper item.[3]

The earliest version set to music appears in James Hook's "A Christmas Box" (1796).[4]


A common style of playing pat-a-cake.

The rhyme often accompanies a clapping game between two people. It alternates between a normal individual clap by one person 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.[2]

The "pat-a-cake" song and clapping game was used by Bob Hope and Bing Crosby in their series of "Road to" films. The gag worked by means of adding a synchronised punch into the clapping game routine, allowing them to make their escape.[5]

Patty-cake appears as a plot point in the 1988 film Who Framed Roger Rabbit where it is made out to be the cartoon equivalent of sex.[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Roud Folksong Index S218300 Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake, baker's man". Vaughan Williams Memorial Library. English Folk Dance and Song Society. Retrieved 20 May 2016.
  2. ^ a b c I. Opie and P. Opie, The Oxford Dictionary of Nursery Rhymes (Oxford University Press, 1951, 2nd edn., 1997), pp. 341–2. ISBN 9780198600886.
  3. ^ Horrible Histories:Gorgeous Georgians
  4. ^ Christmas Box by Mr Hook (p.13)
  5. ^ The "Road..." Films of Hope, Crosby and Lamour
  6. ^ Cotter, Padraig (January 12, 2020). "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?: Yes, 'Patty-Cake' Is The Toon Equivalent Of Sex". Screen Rant. Retrieved February 10, 2024.