The History of The Wedding Cake
The tradition of having a wedding cake can be dated back to Roman times when apparently the groom would break a loaf of wheat or barley bread over his bride's head, which would symbolise the breaking of her virginal state. The wedding guests would then all rush to claim a crumb of the loaf, which would undoubtedly have left the new bride fairly dishevelled and wondering what she had gotten herself into.
Thankfully, the wedding cake started to evolve into something slightly more sedate in Medieval England. A stack of sweet buns would be piled up in a tower in front of the newlyweds and they were then required to kiss over the top of the buns without knocking them over so that they could expect health and prosperity throughout their marriage.
During the 1600's another version of the wedding cake came about, commonly named "Bride's Pie". It was filled with sweet breads, mince or mutton and would also contain a glass ring. Similar to tossing the bouquet these days, the woman who found the glass ring in the cake would be the next to wed (and if she bit into it, possibly the next to visit the dentist also!)
As time went on, wedding cakes continued to evolve into what we are familiar with today. The traditional white wedding cake dates back to before the Victorian era however, when only the rich could afford the finest quality white sugar. Therefore a pure white cake was not only symbolic of purity, but also of the wealth of the bride’s family. However, with the advent of the second world war, which brought about sugar rationing, brides had to be more creative in order to be able to afford a pure white cake. They either went for a much smaller version of what they wanted, or instead served their cake inside a box which was then decorated with plaster of Paris.
Multiple tiered cakes were originally reserved for English Royalty, with the three tiered wedding cake being the most traditionally recognised. The bottom tier would be for the wedding reception, the second tier would be distributed to guests, and the top tier was kept for the christening, which used to take place fairly soon after the wedding. In our modern society, many newly married couples still choose to distribute the lower tiers of their wedding cake, and keep the top tier for possible future christenings, and luckily fruit cake can be stored for quite some time.
We also keep some of our forefather's other traditions regarding wedding cake, although thankfully we have chosen to keep hold of some of the rather less messy options, that don’t involve bashing the bride on the head with a loaf of bread. Present day bride and grooms cut their wedding cake together as a symbol of their first joint venture in their married life; and the feeding of the cake to one another after this is supposed to symbolise their commitment to one another.
These days we are not so concerned with having pure white icing on our cakes, and instead the design of wedding cakes has gone stratospheric. Cake designers often cover a broad range of styles, and can offer help and guidance in the planning of your cake. Choice in flavour, size, shape and decoration is practically limitless, and brides can let their imagination run riot with a centrepiece that really takes the cake!
This article was written by Sherry Hostler from The Cake House
The Cake House creates unique and delicious cakes in all tastes and styles.
For more information about The Cake House visit
www.thecakehouse.biz or call 07786 911222.