"I am going to blog about this," I told him. "The title will be, 'Musings of a sleep deprived new mother:' or something like that. I realized as I was playing "patty cake" with my daughter that I really don't know the words. Is it two words, like 'Patty Cake?' Is that someone's name? Baker's man? Why does the baker have a man? What kind of man? Is Pattycake like a slave name? Is the song racist? Or is it like the baker's special manfriend?"
"No, Alex, I think it's 'baker-man.' Like Pattycake is the baker's nickname or that's just what he does, he pats cakes."
"So there's not a 'baker's man'?"
I've been singing it wrong. He sounds like he knows, but I am still not sure.
"So if it's a name, is it Patty Cake or Paddy Cake, like he's Irish? And why are we in such a hurry for the cake?"
"Oh Christ, Alex. I don't know."
I found this from 1901, perhaps confirming that the origins of "pat-a-cake" are racist: