May 6, 2009
The wedding cake has a long history and is still a very popular custom. Read on to learn more about wedding cake traditions…
- The wedding cake was originally lots of little wheat cakes that were broken over the bride's head for good luck and fertility.
- In Elizabethan times, small spiced cakes were given to wedding guests to toss over the bride's head. The remaining cakes were piled high on a table at the reception, and the couple kissed over the stack and tried not to knock it down.
- In the 1660s, the French pastry cooks for King Charles II iced the pile of cakes. The tiers on today's wedding cakes evolved from that early custom.
- It is thought that the “three-tier” wedding cake is based on the unusual shape of the spire of Saint Bride's Church in London.
- Today's most popular cakes among brides are airy, egg-white-based silver cakes or gold or yellow pound cakes.
- Grooms traditionally favored dark, rich fruitcakes. Today, grooms often request their favorite flavors (chocolate, for example) and may adorn the cake with a decoration, such as a top hat.
- The custom of saving the top layer of cake for the newlyweds to share on their first anniversary remains in vogue.
At The Old Farmer's Almanac, we have tested and eaten many wedding cakes over the years. Here's a recipe for one of our favorites: Old-Fashioned Buttermilk Wedding Cake.
The 2002 Old Farmer's Almanac