As the kitchen heats up for Summer with heaps of cool wedding cakes we’re lovingly crafting, I got thinking: I bet there are tons of things you never knew about the history of wedding cakes.
We’re known for our modern, unique and FUN take on wedding cakes, but these confections have such a long history and you can bet they didn’t start out as tasty and cool as ours are now. So I thought it would be fun to dig a little deeper to find out more about these towering symbols of sweet matrimony to bring you…
7 THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT WEDDING CAKES
ONE. The earliest wedding cake started life in Roman times and was more like bread, made of wheat or barley. It would be broken over the bride’s head to symbolise the breaking of her, erm, maidenhood… Guests would then eat the crumbs. Lovely.
TWO. That boring white cake that you’re going to such lengths to avoid? Well you have high sugar prices and Queen Victoria to thank for that. Processed white sugar was such an expensive ingredient that it was a bit of a status symbol to have your cake made from it. And when cake-loving Queen Vic married Albert, their cake was a huge showstopper covered in white icing unlike the world had ever seen. The well-heeled were quick to copy at their own weddings.
This cake weighed 300lbs!! | Pic via queenvictoria.victoriana.com
THREE. We’ve all seen the newlyweds adopt that cutesy, borderline cringey pose as they hold the cake knife together and slowly cut the cake. It all started in the 19th century to represent the first task the pair does together as a married couple. I rather like the idea of making it your couple ‘thing’, insisting on holding the knife jointly whenever there’s a cake to be cut. Reckon it’ll catch on?
FOUR. The towering multi-tiered wedding cakes en vogue these days are all thanks to a poor sap in love. The baker’s apprentice fell in love with his daughter and when she agreed to marry him, he wanted to impress her with his mad baking skills. He was inspired by the structure of nearby St Bride’s Church and created the first tiered cake.
Is it a church spire or a wedding cake? | Pic via stbrides.com
FIVE. I’ve been raving about the magic of cake for years now, but it turns out that cake can actually predict the future. Yep. If you place a slice of wedding cake (crumbs will do if you get the munchies on the way home) under your pillow, then apparently you will dream of your future true love. Maybe you’ll meet them at the dry cleaners when you try to get the cake stains out of the sheets.
SIX. This is a really important one. Wedding cakes used to be created in pairs. That’s right, TWO wedding cakes. We’ve recently seen a resurgence in groom’s cakes, but this is actually not a new idea. The Victorians would have a single pretty and light wedding cake, with an additional dark cake, laced with rich flavours such as chocolate and alcohol. These flavours were seen as masculine, hence it became the ‘groom’s cake’. Apart from the sexist division of flavours, I can get on board with this tradition- it means you get to order two wedding cakes!!
SEVEN. In medieval times, a huge pile of buns would be constructed and the newlyweds had to try to kiss over the top. If successful, they were in for a long and happy union, if they knocked the buns over, well I dread to think…! There’s also a rumour that a Frenchman saw this tradition when visiting England and when he returned home, the croquembouche was invented.
Phew, there’s a lot of wedding cake trivia out there and I for one am very happy that wedding cakes have evolved to their present form. Anything goes, you can have white icing if you love it or you can stack a load of bread buns and kiss over the top instead of cutting a cake. Are you intrigued? Why not read more about the history of wedding cakes.