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, butter cream 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 in western society; 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 Medieval 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. The pastry chef then went back to France and piled sweet rolls up into a tower to make the first Croquembouche. The modern croquembouche is still very popular in France however it is common to place the croquembouche tower on a bed of cake and make it one of the top tiers of the wedding cake. This traditional French wedding cake is built from Profiteroles and given a halo of spun sugar. Traditionally the bride would place a ring inside the couple’s portion of the cake to symbolize 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 Flower 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 bride’s cake turned into the main cake for the event. When the two cakes 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 cakes 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. When Queen Victoria used white icing on her cake it gained a new title, royal icing. You just have to wonder where these traditions came from. Do you know what inspired the traditional staples of Weddings today?