Sunday, February 22, 2009

How wedding cakes were born

With wedding cakes on my mind (and my kitchen counter) this weekend, I thought I would do a little sniffing around (ie. Googling around) as to how wedding cakes originated. With so many traditions flying out the window these days (some brides don’t even wear white anymore…!) a cake is still central and essential to any wedding.

So how did they come about? Wedding cakes actually symbolised fertility and used to be broken over the bride’s head by the groom (those Ancient Romans had some strange ideas but keep in mind their cakes more closely resembled bread, biscuits or scones... still!).
It was also a sign of good things to pile as many cakes as high as possible (which were brought by each guest) and have the bride and groom kiss over the top – as long as they didn’t knock them over (those Ancient Romans must also have had good balance).
The crumbs of cake that subsequently fell onto the floor were also a sign of fertility and upcoming nuptials for guests who could manage to grab a few to eat. I have to say our throwing-the-bouquet tradition today is much more hygienic but probably equally as dangerous!

I have all the respect in the world for traditions that have been handed down and followed for centuries, but I love living in this day and age where wedding cakes are the grand elaborate things they are and can take any shape, size or form that reflect the couple and theme of the wedding. I enjoy witnessing how brides decide on what cake suits them perfectly - which design would be the ONE cake that would say it all for them. What a delectable challenge!

The cakes we have today are a product of French influence who took what the Romans had and prettied them up – no surprises there! Gateau, anyone?

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