Your wedding day is full of so many significant moments, all enjoyed, shared, photographed and remembered. One of those moments is the cutting of your wedding cake. But why do we eat Cake?……it’s a tradition that goes back a while, right back to Roman Times in fact.
Various different rituals of Brides and Grooms breaking and eating breads, pies and cakes to bring them good luck have been documented, From the when a Roman Groom would eat part of a loaf and break the rest over his brides head to bring good fortune and healthy children, to Medieval England where baked goods were piled high and if the Bride and Groom managed to kiss over them without them toppling over they were assured of a lifetime of happiness together. It’s claimed that in 17th Century England a French Chef visited and was disturbed by the piled up bread and created a way of securing them using sawn broom handles to help the structure stand tall. But when did Wedding Cakes start to look like the Wedding Cakes we recognise today?
Well, that we have to thank the Victorian’s for…..as with so many other of our Wedding traditions.
During Victorian England white was the colour of purity, and with the aid of a mountain of sugar, Queen Victoria’s cake set the tone of wedding cakes to come. Queen Victoria was dressed in white, and her ‘brides-cake’ reflected her dress. This trend to style the cake as part of the brides theme still happens today, whether they be of purest white, or as part of the Wedding’s overall look.
It wasn’t just symbolism that made cakes white, affluence was also a factor. Sugar was expensive, and the more you could cover your cake with, the more affluent you appeared within society.
Cakes grew in height and tiers, with the 3 tier cake, representing the 3 rings (engagement, wedding and eternity) becoming the traditional choice. Cakes were made from rich fruit cake, and would take the weeks, or even months, to decorate in intricate Royal Iced designs. The cakes were so rich in alcohol and sugar from the dried fruit that they lasted a very long time, so much so it became another tradition to keep the top tier for the Christening of the couples first born.
With the advent of sugarpaste, or ready to roll fondant icing, in the last 30 years, cakes could be decorated to a smooth finish in a fraction of the time it took to get Royal Icing looking the same. This allowed cakes that didn’t need the preservation of alcohol to be used for wedding cakes, and it’s unusual for a Wedding Cake today to be made entirely of fruit cake. Sugarpaste, modelling paste and similar ingredients have allowed designs to change and evolve, decorating techniques are constantly being updated, and trends in modern Wedding Cakes change from year to year – nearly as often as the fashions of the dress.
The cake is a central part of the Wedding Day. The Bride cuts her cake with the help of her Groom (the Groom stepped in to help in the days of Royal Icing which was too thick and strong to do alone) as part of their Wedding Breakfast. In some countries the couple feed each other the cake to symbolise the commitment they have made to one another. The cutting and sharing of the cake amongst the couple’s guests dates back to Roman times when guests shared the crumbs from the broken bread. Today sharing cake is another way to celebrate a couples day, and cakes have also become a crucial part of any celebration from birthdays, to anniversaries, to christenings and baby showers.
Cakes today are designed and decorated to be a crucial part of the Wedding Day. Photographed and handed out amongst the guests, it takes many guises from large tiered cakes, to cupcakes, sweet tables and even ‘naked’ undecorated cakes. As a cake maker it is a joy to be able to be part of a couple’s day and exciting to see what trends will come our way next.