Friday, July 23, 2010

The History of the Wedding Cake

One needs only turn on the television or walk into a bookstore these days to see that cake is making a comeback in a very big way these days. With our second book about to hit the shelves, and in the wake of the various desert challenges on the likes of MasterChef, I asked myself; when exactly did this all happen? In 2005 Nigella Lawson had us all wanting to be a Domestic Goddess, and Martha Stewart has retained her all-American cake queen status since the late 70's; but it was Handi who told me that the first wedding cake as we know it actually dates back as far as the 1600's.

Being one of the country's top makers of wedding cakes, I decided it was important to acknowledge our roots and those who know me will not be surprised that this slice of information woke up the historically enquiring mind within, and I decided to research a little further...

Roman writer Lucretius, Circa 100BC, wrote of the first form of wedding cake, a loaf made from barley or rye which was crumbled over the brides head by the groom as a sign of his domination over his new bride. Hmmm, not surprising this is a tradition we have since abandoned! The rest of the crumbs were then thrown by the guests and became the first form of confetti.

Ancient Roman wedding relief

The tradition of loaves and pastry's at weddings continued, and in England during the middle ages the wedding centrepiece was often a tower of sweet buns, piled as high as possible. The couple who managed to kiss over the tower were assured a life of prosperity... so long as they were not slain by dragons, taken out by the plague or any of those other nasty medieval maladies. Pastry's filled with offal and nuts (eeeewwww!!) were also popular around this time!
It was in the 1700's however that the wedding cake as we know it really came into its own as multi-tiered cakes made of fruit (a symbol of fertility) became the centrepiece of many weddings. Thick fondant now known as Royal icing gained its name during this era after it was used on the wedding cake of Queen Victoria herself and Prince Albert. Perishables were extremely expensive around this time, with double refined sugar being one of the most pricey food items going. Thus the traditional white wedding cake was not a symbol of purity and virginity originally (rather this came later) but a sign of the family's wealth, who could afford such luxurious goods.

Queen Victoria's Wedding Cake

It was the hedonistic 1980's that saw the real turn around in the way we view wedding cakes as we threw tradition to the winds and embraced new colours, styles and flavours....chocolate mud for a wedding, shock horror! These days we draw inspiration for our cakes from fashion, venues, seasons and even interior design and at PC we always aim to stay one step ahead in our cutting edge designs, and incorporate the individual qualities of each and every bride and groom which step through our door.
So what do you think Queen Victoria would have thought of this one?

9 comments:

承蘋承蘋 said...

成功可招引朋友,挫敗可考驗朋友............................................................

盈廖生家秀蔡 said...

人應該做自己認為對的事,而不是一味跟著群眾的建議走。..................................................

gabrielle said...

If you are going to do history get it right.

The 1700's is 200 years too early for the Vctorian era (1837-1901). I specialized in medieval history at a postgrad level and have never heard of the tower you mention and that particular ritual. Other wedding rituals such as marriage taking place outside the church on the steps, and the bedding ritual I am quite familiar with.

賴maeron曉ichards雨 said...

培養健全孩子最好的方法是父母先成為健全的人。............................................................

DaniloM_W志竹olff0615 said...

Learn wisdom by the follies of others.............................................................

仲惠娟惠娟亨 said...

Learning makes a good man better and ill man worse.............................................................

懷明明名懷明明名 said...

當最困難的時候,也就是離成功不遠的時候。..................................................

Iron Chef Kosher! said...

Royal icing is not fondant or even a type of fondant. Fondant is a paste that is mixed up & rolled out, then laid on top of a cake and smoothed into place. Royal icing is a liquid that is piped into place either directly onto the cake, or onto a tool then placed on the cake, & hardens into a much more brittle substance than fondant.

Iron Chef Kosher! said...

Also, that cake was for Queen Victoria's grandson, George VI. http://chestofbooks.com/food/household/Woman-Encyclopaedia-1/Wedding-Cakes.html

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