Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Let Them Eat Cake

The Evolution of the Wedding Cake

Cake. Chocolate Cake. Yellow Cake. Confetti Cake. Cake covered in buttercream icing. Cake crumbs. Cake pops. Ice cream cake. Cupcakes. This list of confections could go on and on, but not one cake is as important as the wedding cake. For a cake of this stature, the wedding cake came from very humble beginnings.

The first wedding cake appeared, as many other wedding traditions, in Ancient Rome. Instead of a cake, a loaf of bread was served to the guests after it was broken over the bride’s head by the groom.  This was believed to enforce the groom’s status over the bride and bring good luck to the married couple. 

In Medieval England, cakes, or “sweet rolls” being a more accurate term, were stacked on top of each other as high as possible for the bride and groom to kiss over.  If they were able to successfully kiss over the stack, a prosperous life together was guaranteed.

After seeing the stacked cakes on a trip to England, a French pastry chef created the croquembouche upon return to his home country by piling profiteroles together and spinning them in a halo of sugar.

Following the creation of the croquembouche, the wedding cake became a wedding centerpiece in western culture. The cake is traditionally served at the wedding reception and range greatly in size and price. Cake decorating and wedding cakes have become a huge pop culture symbol resulting in shows such as Ace of Cakes and televised “cake-offs.” The wedding cake continues to hold lore, as it is still believed to be good luck for the guests at the wedding to eat a piece of cake.

It is common tradition for the top layer of the cake to be saved and frozen for the couple to enjoy on their first anniversary. While the cake quality after a year in the freezer is up for debate, the Anniversary Box is sure not to be soggy—unless of course from tears of joy evoked by the memories that come with it.

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