The wedding cake, as we know it today, has evolved from a series of traditions which were in place in the past and can be seen as a symbol for the connection a married couple makes when they commit to each other. The kind of cake you choose will, of course, be influenced by how many people will be in attendance at your wedding and, indeed, whether it is actually for eating or is merely for show. Ingredients and design often vary greatly and should represent both the bride and the groom.
Types of Wedding Cake
Traditional wedding cakes are made from a rich fruit cake recipe which is then covered in marzipan and thick royal icing. These days, however, wedding cakes are more often made of vanilla sponge or chocolate cake and will have a cream filling. There are many different variations on this, though, including croquembouche (profiterole cones) and cupcake towers!
Tiered Fruit Cake
This traditional cake was said to be first designed in the eighteenth century by a baker’s apprentice and was based on the spires of London’s St Bride’s Church. A rich fruit cake, covered in thick icing and stacked in tiers – iconic and timeless!
This is the firmly modern and pop culture-ey option that has taken America by storm. Each cupcake can be flavoured differently and decorated uniquely if you wish!
This dessert is a French wedding tradition, but has become increasingly popular. A cone, or tower, of choux pastry profiteroles are stacked up like a tree before being cascaded in toffee or butterscotch. Delicious and stylish!
Cheese cakes are becoming ever more popular amongst couples who are not a huge fan of cake; you could have a few different flavours and top them with different fruits for a beautiful effect.
History of the Wedding Cake
Like so many other traditions the origins of the wedding cake custom can be traced right back to the Romans. The Romans are said to have broken bread over the bride’s head to bring good luck to the couple. English brides and grooms would seek to stack cake as high as possible and then kiss over the top of the stack. Should they succeed they were said to have good luck. This tradition in particular can still be seen today with the Croquembouche.
Cutting the cake
Cutting the cake has always been a symbolic moment, and these days it makes for a great photo opportunity. It is common to see the bride and groom making the first incision together, but initially it was the bride who cut and distributed the cake as a symbol of her fertility. As the cakes got bigger and bigger and the icing was made thicker to lend the cake a bit more solidity, it began to take more force to cut the cake. This is why the bride and groom now, generally, both cut the cake.
Wedding Cake Tiers
Each tier of the wedding cake has its own significance and various theories surround each one. One tradition states that each layer is representative of a marriage ring; the engagement, wedding and eternity rings. Another says the bottom layer is the couple as they stand, the middle is their children and the top them as a couple overall. Religious couples will generally save the top layer to eat at the christening of their first child, and this is why the top layer is usually a fruit cake, so it can be preserved.