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wedding cakes

The History of the Wedding Cake

By | Contemporary Cake Designs, Wedding Cakes | No Comments

Wedding season is upon us and we are busy, busy, busy making and creating all sorts of unique and delicious cakes to help make your special day perfect! Crafting these wonderful cakes and being up to our elbows in flour and icing has lead us to wonder about where the wedding cake tradition comes from and how it came to be. Believe it or not, looking into it we have traced wedding cake/bread traditions back to Ancient Rome! Check out the history of this modern must-have custom at weddings below, some of the customs we can’t believe!

Our modern version of the wedding cake has been developed from a variety of cultural traditions over the ages. The primary wedding cake tradition began in Ancient Rome where pieces of bread (which were the equivalent of cake back then) were broken above the bride’s head to offer good fortune to the couple.  Following this wedding tradition, in Medieval England the guests would throw cakes made of wheat at the bride as a symbol of fertility. As well as this they would make a pile of cakes stacked as high as possible. After the wedding ceremony the bride and groom would attempt to kiss over the pile without knocking it over, if they were successful they would be guaranteed an affluent life together.

This tradition actually inspired a French pastry chef, who was visiting England, to create the first Croquembouche. This soon became a traditional French wedding cake, although in our present day it is usually positioned as the top tier to the cake foundations.

Wow

One of our Croquembouche designs

The wedding cake tradition then continued to evolve as in the early 1700’s a bakers apprentice fell in love with his employer’s daughter and asked her to marry him. In order to celebrate this proposal and express his love, he made an extravagant cake – clearly he was a romantic type!

Eventually it became traditional for the bride to show acceptance of the proposal by inserting a ring in the

couples portion of the cake. Soon after this cake became known as the “bride’s pie” and was served at most weddings between the 1700’s and the early 19th century. Regardless as to whether or not they wanted to, guests had to have a piece as it was considered to be the upmost disrespect not to eat it. Similar to the contemporary tradition of the flower bouquet, a glass ring would often be hidden within the cake, and the maiden who found it would be the next to marry. Over the years the “bride’s pie” became known as the “bride’s cake” as the dessert was slowly becoming sweeter and no longer took the form of a pie. Eventually the tradition of the glass ring died out and was instead replaced by the throwing of the flower bouquet that we know today! As the pies died out fruit cakes replaced it as they were a sign of fertility and prosperity, which was considered relevant at weddings because all married men and women were expected to want a lot of children.

Furthermore the bride’s cake usually took the form of a simple cake with white icing to symbolize purity and virginity – much like the symbolism surrounding the white dress. By the early 1800’s sugar was becoming more accessible to the general public leading to the increased popularity of the bride’s cake. Meanwhile the extravagance of the cake was a way for families to show their social status as the whiter the icing and the larger the cake, the more wealth that family had. Additionally the icing of wedding cakes took the name of “royal icing” after Queen Victoria used white icing on her own wedding cake.

 

Beautiful

Beautiful

However the contemporary wedding cake that our society knows originated from Prince Leopold’s wedding in 1882. Not only was his cake completely edible which was a new development, but it was also tiered. The first pillars between the tiers appeared a couple of decades after this and were constructed of broomsticks covered in icing. Price Leopold’s cake was the origin of the method we use today as each layer was made separately. Only once the icing had hardened would the layers be stack on top of one another.

Of course, given the size of our modern wedding cakes we also use extra support by inserting dowels in the centre of each layer.

 

Now wedding cakes are known for being a centre piece at the after party and a vital addition to the wedding day. Here at Contemporary Cake Designs we are dedicated to making yours the perfect cake in looks and taste – whether it’s unique to you or takes a more traditional form.Helen and Sam - Top tier classic Victoria Spone - Bottom Tier Beligium Truffle Torte with Chocolate Butter Cream

 
We absolutely love helping you design and create your wedding masterpieces! This time of year has to be one of our upmost favourites as we meet with the couples to personally discuss what they dream about and want for their own wedding cake. Give us a call even just for a consultation and we would be absolutely delighted to help!

 

 

 

 

 

Our Views on the Latest Trends in Wedding Cakes

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Entering a new era of wedding cakes

Entering a new era of wedding cakes

Everyone has different priorities when it comes to their big day and with an increase interest in the world of baking and cake decorating, the wedding cake is slowly creeping up the list of priorities. Doubtful if the cake will ever take over the wedding dress brides are defiantly interested in seeing how they can incorporate detail from their dress in their cake design.

We are in a new era of fashion inspired wedding cakes. As trends change equipment and materials develop in sugar craft with more diverse and unique designs are being created. Couples want their wedding cake to stand out from the crowd and therefore more and more wacky deigns seem to be coming through. This makes it just as important for us as designers to be able to adapt our knowledge and skills of new trends to meet the need of the clients so we can offer the best service as possible.

Over the centuries there have been many traditions created surrounding the cake and it still remains an important aspect of any wedding. A gorgeous wedding cake is often the centerpiece of a wedding and usually sits in a place of honour. Wedding cakes have come a long way in the last 20 years and we may yet be seeing the start of another revolution in design and cake flavours. There seems to be no limits to what can be achieved.

We have been privileged to create a wonderfully diverse range of different wedding cakes over the years but the one that stands out for us is a stunning huge silver porsche carrera car that a very kind bride brought as a surprise wedding gift for her husband to be.

Here at Contemporary Cake Designs we get the impression people are looking to spend that little bit more on their wedding celebrations than years gone by. This has most likely been caused by the economic climate with couples having less to spend on luxury items so that when the big day arrives they are willing to go all out to ensure it’s a special day.

What a start to the year!!

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We have been busy creating some stunning new wedding cake designs ready for all our lovely couples who have been visiting our Studio E for their FREE consultation and tastings. Today we have just delivered two of these to The Queen Hotel in Cheltenham and they are proudly displayed in their cabinet near the reception for everyone to see. We have also been asked to create a top secret six tier cake for a Channel 5 TV show being filmed next Friday.
How exciting and it’d only just February what a year it’s promising to be…..

Thank you

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Contemporary Cake Designs would like to thank Jane at Lowers Slaughter Manor for a great wedding open day and to all the brides and grooms who came along to see us. We look forward to seeing you all soon for your free consultation and tasting at our studio in Cheltenham