The quintessential cake is one of the central images that comes to mind when one thinks of weddings but did you know it has a long history with superstition and royalty? Here are seven fun facts about wedding cakes:
1. Long ago, the Ancient Romans concluded their marriage ceremonies by breaking a barley or wheat cake over the bride’s head for luck and fertility. She and her groom would eat some of the crumbs as their first act as husband and wife. Guests of the wedding would then collect the leftovers for good luck.
2. In Medieval England, wedding cakes took the form of a stacked pile of sweet rolls for the bride and the groom to kiss over without knocking it over. If they triumphed, they were believed to gain a life of prosperity and luck. According to legend, a French pastry chef witnessed the English tradition and brought it back to France. They turned the pile into a tower to create the first croquembouche. Also known as the Cream Puff Tower, the treat is still served at French weddings today!
3. Bride pies were the norm during the 16th and 17th centuries! Recipes included various ingredients such as sweet potatoes, cock sparrow brains, eggs, dried fruit, prawns, cockles, oysters, cocks’ combs, lambs’ testicles, artichokes, and stuffed larks. One recipe includes a central compartment filled with live birds or a live snake to entertain the guests. Despite the questionable stuffings, guests were expected to enjoy a slice as it was considered rude (not to mention bad luck) to refuse a piece.
4. White icing on wedding cakes indicated status and wealth in Victorian times, and therefore highly desired. The sugar required to create the icing was expensive. The lighter the cake was, the wealthier the hosting family appeared to be in the eyes of their guests.
5. The first instance of the modern-day wedding cake made its debut at the 1882 wedding of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, and Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont. It was entirely edible! The cake was creative in several layers and separated by thick icing for support and stacked upon the other (after the icing hardened) to achieve its six-foot height! This method is still used for today’s wedding cakes (with the help of internal support via dowels)!
6. In 1998, a tiny piece of cake from the 1937 wedding of the Duke and Duchess Windsor (also known as the former King Edward VIII and Wallis Simpson) was sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $29,900. The slice of cake was valued at between $500 and $1,000. Talk about owning a piece of history!
7. The tradition of cutting the wedding cake is one filled with numerous meanings. Initially, the delicacy was to be cut and served to the guests by the bride to ensure her fertility. As wedding parties grew and the size of cakes became daunting, grooms began to assist in both the dividing and distribution. Over time, newlyweds began to share an inaugural slice of cake, sowing the practice of the couple feeding one another to symbolize their union and commitment to providing for one another.
Have any wedding cake fun facts of your own?
Feel free to share them in the comments!