Wedding Cake Traditions
The wedding cake has been a feature of wedding celebrations ever since medieval times. Originally made of wheat, a symbol of fertility and prosperity, these cakes would have been thrown at the bride!
Around 100BC the Romans began baking wheat and salt into small cakes to be eaten. These cakes would have been more like biscuits or bread buns rather than soft cakes. During the marriage ceremony, the groom would eat part of this cake and then he would break the rest over the bride's head as a sign of good fortune and a blessing for a long life.
Sometimes the cakes were stacked into a tall pile in front of the newlyweds. The height of the stack was an indication of wealth and prosperity. Eventually this idea developed into stacking the cakes neatly and icing them together.
In the late 17th century, a French chef traveling through England was appalled at the cake-pilling ritual and conceived the idea of constructing them into a solid stacked system. This earliest, elaborate tiered wedding cake needed to be prepared days in advance and so was iced with lard to prevent it from drying out. The lard was scraped off just before serving. In later years, sugar was added to the lard in order to improve its taste and so the lard could be left on the cake as a decorative icing.
Less affluent ceremonies sometimes had a ‘brides pie' as the centre-piece of celebrations. This was a type of mince pie made with sweet breads, or a savoury mutton pie and inside would have been placed a glass ring. Custom states that the lady who found the ring would be next to wed.
The rich fruit cake with marzipan and white icing became popular by the 18th century and the use of the bride pie disappeared. In the middle of the 19th century it became customary to send a portion of the cake to people who could not attend the wedding and therefore it became necessary to make larger cakes with more tiers.
White icing was originally used as a sign of fertility and purity. It also became a symbol of affluence, as white icing required the use of the finest refined sugar. Today, contemporary wedding cakes are made in a variety of colours, coordinating with bridal gowns, bridesmaid dresses, flowers and themes of the day.
Cutting The Wedding Cake
Symbolically, cutting the cake is the first task that the bride and groom perform jointly as husband and wife. Sharing the first bite with each other signifies that the newlywed couple promise to share a whole new life together. The bridesmaids keep their slices and place them under their pillows that night in the belief that they will dream of their future husbands. See photos of our brides and grooms cutting their fabulous cakes.
The top tier of the wedding cake was traditionally kept and used at the christening of the couple's first child. It was assumed that the christening would occur soon after the wedding. Today however, the top tier is often saved to be used at the couple's first anniversary.Our Christening Cakes page and our Anniversary Cakes page will provide you with some ideas to transform that wedding cake top tier!
Cake decorating is one of the sugar arts that uses icing or frosting and other edible decorative elements to make otherwise plain cakes more visually interesting. Alternatively, cakes can be molded and sculpted to resemble three-dimensional persons, places and things. In many areas of the world, decorated cakes are often a focal point of a special celebration such as a birthday, graduation, bridal shower, wedding, or anniversary. During the 1840s, the advent of temperature-controlled ovens and the production of baking soda and baking powder made baking cakes much easier. Even though baking from scratch decreased during the latter part of the 20th century in the United States, decorated cakes have remained an important part of celebrations such as weddings, anniversaries, birthdays, showers and other special occasions. Recently, cakes decorated with fondant have become extremely popular and resulted in several reality based TV shows across the country.
Some cake designers are former painters. Duff Goldman was a graffiti artist. Fondant allows the baker to express creativity in baking. Fondant exists in many different colors, and its initial form is soft and easy to handle. In this form, cake decorators are able to mold fondant into many different artistic expressions. Many of these art expressions are also taught in professional cake decorating class. Cake decorating in popular culture * Food Network's Ace of Cakes features baker and artist Duff Goldman and his shop, Charm City Cakes. * WE's Amazing Wedding Cakes is a television series featuring several cake decorating companies across America and focuses on the crafting and design of the cakes. * Cake Wrecks is an entertainment photoblog featuring user-submitted images of "unintentionally silly, sad, creepy or inappropriate" cakes. * TLC's Cake Boss features baker Buddy Valastro and his shop called Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken, New Jersey. wikipedia