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The Origin & History Of The Wedding Cake: From Tradition To Modern Bespoke Masterpeices

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

Modern day wedding cakes, especially the abstract buttercream ones I design, have come along way from their origins centuries ago. This gives you a guide through the origin & history of the wedding cake.


It is thought that a 'cake' has been part of the wedding ceremony since ancient Roman times when the groom would break a scone-like grain cake over the bride's head for luck and fertility and eat some of the cake together before guests would eat up the crumbs for good luck.


When the Romans conquered Britain, they brought the tradition with them. During the medieval period, the wedding cake was being made of spiced sweet buns and biscuits that were stacked. It was considered good luck if the bride and groom could kiss each other over the top of the stack without knocking it over.


A savoury version of the wedding cake became popular in the 17th century - the Bride's Pye was a pastry crust filled with delicious ingredients such as lambs testicles and cock's combs...yum! It was considered very rude if guests didn't partake of a slice of this delicious wedding cake, but for unmarried guests they did have the incentive that they might find a glass ring inside the pie which would ensure they were married next (now replaced by the flower bouquet toss).


The tradition of a fruit cake gradually developed, but as most homes didn't have an oven, this started from pastry crusts being cooked on the hearth, filled with currants and sprinkled with sugar. This darker fruit cake was considered to be the groom's cake, while a lighter pound cake recipe was used for the bride's cake, which eventually became the preferred cake to use.


As refined sugar became more available in the 18th century, icing was used to cover the cake. This came to represent a bride's virginity and also a symbol of wealth. When Queen Victoria had white icing on her wedding cake in 1840, this became known as Royal Icing.


Victorian bride cutting a wedding cake
Victorian Wedding Cake

More extravagent, tiered wedding cakes were thought to have originated in 1703 when a baker's apprentice in London wanted to impress his bride and a made a wedding cake based on St. Bride's church on Fleet Street. The use of pillars to create even taller cakes first came about at the beginning of the 20th century when broomstick handles were covered in icing.


Since then, a white sugar icing or fondant has been the most traditional covering for a wedding cake and it has only been in the last decade or so that buttercream-covered cakes have become popular as couples ditch the fondant for something more delicious.


If you're a couple looking for a modern, bespoke wedding cake delivered to your wedding in London, Surrey, Sussex or Kent (I can potentially travel further), then get in touch and let's chat!


 

Simon's Bakery is located in Tooting, south London, and I deliver across London, Surrey, Sussex, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Essex and Norfolk. I design luxury modern bespoke Swiss meringue buttercream and ganache wedding cakes and event cakes, characterised by a clean precise finish, with sharp edges, a bold use of colour and other modern design techniques to create interesting textures and shapes.

I draw on my years of cooking and baking experience to cakes that not only look stunning, but also taste amazing, experimenting with flavours and texture combinations to create a memorable taste sensation.


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