The wedding cakes that we know and love today were not always the
look or taste. The tradition of serving cake at a wedding goes all
the way back to the ancient Greeks. The newly wed couple would cut
a sesame seed cake together to symbolize fertility and happiness
– it is from where we get our modern custom of cake cutting
at a wedding.
However this custom was not always in vogue. The Romans did have
a form of cake at their weddings, but instead of eating this wheat
or barley cake, the groom would break it over the bride’s
head. The crumbs that fell to the floor were
then gathered up by the guests as tokens of good luck. A similar
tradition of breaking a cake over the bride’s head continued
for many centuries with some reports from Scotland dating as recently
as the 19th century.
This custom slowly gave way to another whereby guests actually brought
cakes to the reception. These cakes were then layered together using
apple sauce – the higher the cake, the more popular the bride.
Another custom that was widely popular during the Middle Ages involved
the guests bringing sticky buns to the reception and piling them
up in front of the happy couple. If the couple were able to kiss
over the top they were supposed to be blessed with a long and happy
marriage and many children.
In the eighteenth century brandied fruit cakes were a big hit because
they were able to keep for so long. The Pilgrims brought this tradition
over to the Americas and the fruit cake slowly evolved into the
white, tiered cake that has come to symbolize wedding receptions.
Today the white cake has again evolved. Modern wedding cakes can
be any color, any flavor and any style. They have become works of
art and are prepared by skilled and talented cake designers who
are eagerly sought by brides everywhere for their expertise and
ability to turn an ordinary pastry into an incredible, edible creation.