The History Of The Wedding Cake
"In all of the wedding cake, hope is the sweetest of plums "- Douglas Jerrold
The history of wedding cakes is a fascinating one, with a story that starts with the celebration of nuptials as far back as ancient Roman times when a simple cake of wheat or barley would have been broken over the bride's head in order to ensure her future fertility. Guests would scramble to obtain a crumb for themselves, a custom that led to the sharing of the modern traditional wedding cake. Eventually the cake evolved in both size and decoration until breaking it over the bride's head became impractical, if not impossible. Medieval England saw the introduction of mounds of small buns, a fashion that has gone full circle with the re-introduction of the individual cup cake tower as a popular alternative to the traditionally tiered wedding cake. The bride and groom would traditionally try to kiss over the top of the tower without knocking the cakes down. If successful, prosperity and health would await the lucky couple. For convenience the small cakes were eventually frosted together with sugar.
Thanks to a visiting French chef during the mid-1600s, wedding cake design took a distinct turn towards the style of cake we're familiar with today. The Frenchman's aversion to cakes falling to the floor prompted him to design an alternative, the tiered and frosted cake, a wedding cake design that quickly caught on and that has since held its popularity. The popularity of the multi-tier wedding cake as we know it today continued into the early 20th century - however these were still the centrepiece of choice of the rich. The introduction of supporting columns also appeared around this time, as a means to support and separate the tiers.
From the 1930s onwards, wedding cakes began to take on all manner of shapes and sizes, and gradually the frosting and decoration of the cake became more elaborate throughout the twentieth century. The 1930s also heralded a variation in the meaning of cutting the cake for the bride and groom - it became more of a joint effort in symbolising the sharing of life, wealth and fortune with friends and family, as well as each other. The top layer of cake is often kept and eaten either on the first anniversary of marriage, or at the christening of the first child. This is sometimes referred to as The Groom’s Cake
The 20th century saw the tradition of the GROOM’S CAKE re-emerge in North America from its English Middle Ages roots. The belief was that if a single woman put a piece of this cake under her pillow, then that very night she would dream of the man she was to wed. The groom's cake was also a perfect candidate for the means to display wealth during the Industrial age of America. However, in modern times it is more often than not used in the rehearsal dinner, or as a second cake in the wedding reception.
Whenever we see a bride and groom cutting the wedding cake, we're witnessing a very long tradition of the bride vowing to help her groom wherever possible, and when the proceed to feed one another from that first slice they're committing to provide for one another for.
Now that you know the history, wedding cakes will never be quite the same again. They are, after all, far more than 'just a cake'.
Please visit us again soon for an updated list !