A wedding cake is a tradition at wedding receptions. In some parts of England, the wedding cake is served at a wedding breakfast following the morning ceremony. In modern Western culture, the cake is usually on display and served to guests at the reception. Traditionally, wedding cakes were made to bring good luck to all guests and the couple. Modernly however, they are more of a centerpiece to the wedding and are not always even served to the guests. Some cakes are built with only a single edible tier for the bride and groom to share.
Wedding cakes can certainly range in size, from a small cake that feeds ten people, to a very large cake that will feed hundreds, all depending on the wedding. Modern pastry chefs and cake designers use various ingredients and tools to create a cake that will reflect the personalities of the couple. Marzipan, fondant, gum paste, buttercream, and chocolate are among some of the more popular ingredients used. Along with ranging in size and components, cakes range in price. Cakes are usually priced on a per-person, or per-slice, basis. Prices usually range from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars per-person or slice, depending on the Pastry Chef hired to make the cake. Wedding cakes and cake decorating in general have become a certain pop culture symbol, many TV shows like Cake Boss or Amazing Wedding Cakes have become very common and are trending in today’s popular culture.
The contemporary wedding cake has grown out of many traditions. One of the first traditions began in Ancient Rome where bread was broken over the bride’s head to bring good fortune to the couple.In Medieval England, cakes were stacked as high as possible for the bride and groom to kiss over, if they successfully kissed over the stack they were guaranteed a prosperous life together.From this the Croquembouche was created. The myth behind this cake tells that a Pastry chef, visiting England witnessed their tradition of piling sweet rolls between the bride and groom which they would attempt to kiss over without knocking them all down.
Traditionally the bride would place a ring inside the couples portion of the cake to symbolise the acceptance of the proposal. During the mid-17th century to the beginning of the 19th century, the “bride’s pie” was served at most weddings. Guests were expected to have a piece out of politeness, it was considered very rude and bad luck not to eat the bride’s pie. One of the traditions of bride’s pie was to place a glass ring in the middle of the dessert and the maiden who found it would be the next to marry, similar to the modern tradition of catching the bouquet. Bride’s pie eventually developed into the bride’s cake. At this point the dessert was no longer in the form of a pie and was sweeter than its predecessor.
The bride cake was traditionally a plum or fruit cake, the myth that eating the pie would bring good luck was still common but the glass ring slowly died out and the catching of the flower bouquet took that meaning.The action of throwing the bouquet has its roots in the Ancient Greek myth of the Apple of Discord. Fruit cakes were a sign of fertility and prosperity which helped them gain popularity because all married men wanted to have plenty of children. The bride’s cake eventually transformed into the modern wedding cake that we know today.
In the 17th century, two cakes were made, one for the bride and one for the groom. The groom’s cake eventually died out and the brides cake turned into the main cake for the event. When the two cake were served together, the groom’s cake was typically the darker colored, rich fruit cake and generally much smaller than the bride’s cake. The bride’s cake was usually a simple pound cake with white icing because white was a sign of virginity and purity. In the early 19th century, when the bride’s cake’s were becoming more popular, sugar was coincidentally becoming easier to obtain. The more refined and whiter sugars were still very expensive therefore only the wealthy families could afford to have a very pure white frosting, this showed the wealth and the social status of the family.
Pillars between the cake tiers did not begin to appear until the late 19th century. The pillars were very poorly made from broomsticks covered in icing. The tiers represented prosperity and were a status symbol because only wealthy families could afford to include them in the cake. Modern wedding cakes still use this method, but because of the size of today’s cakes, internal support is added to each layer in the form of dowels.
The wedding cake is surrounded by superstitions. In a traditional American wedding, maidens would be invited to pull ribbons that are attached to the bottom layer of the wedding cake, Out of all the ribbons, only one contains a charm or a ring, and whoever gets the charm will be the next person to marry. In other countries, the wedding cake is broken over the bride’s head to ensure fertility and bring good fortune to the couple. Also, most people today think that eating the crumbs of the wedding cake would give them good luck because the wedding cake symbolizes happiness and good life to the newlywed couple.
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