The History of Wedding Cakes

The wedding cake is a tradition that began back in the Roman Empire. At the time, it was a loaf of bread that the groom broke over the bride’s head as a symbol of his dominance in the marriage. The colour of the cake was typically white to symbolise purity. The joint task of the bride and groom cutting the cake was meant to symbolise their first joint task in married life. The gesture of feeding cake to one another was a symbol of the commitment the bride and groom are making. 

In medieval England, the bride and groom would pile sweet rolls between themselves and would attempt to kiss over said pile without knocking them all down. It is said that this was witnessed by a French pastry chef who returned to his country and created what is today’s classic French wedding cake—the magnificent croquembouche 

In the 17th century "bride pie" became popular, which varied from sweet breads to mince pies or even mutton pie. Within it was a glass ring which was used in a similar way to the bouquet today: whichever woman found it was meant to become the next bride. For those less affluent families, this pie might have formed the centrepiece. 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. 

At The end of 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 coloured, rich fruit cake and generally much smaller than the bride's cake. 

The wedding cake as we know it now originated at the wedding of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, in 1882; his wedding cake was the first to actually be completely edible. The tiers represented prosperity and were a status symbol because only wealthy families could afford to include them in the cake. Modern wedding cakes now use internal support is added to each layer in the form of dowels. 

In the United Kingdom, the traditional wedding cake is made from a rich fruitcake whose ingredients last without degrading. This allowed the top tier to be stored after the wedding, to be eaten at the christening of the first child. Many modern cakes now consist of flavors such as vanilla sponge, chocolate sponge or carrot cake. 

Most cakes are between three and five tiers in height. Royal wedding cakes are among the more elaborate cakes seen in the United Kingdom. 

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