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A wedding cake is often considered to be the centrepiece of your wedding reception. Whether it’s a chocolate enrobed 3ft masterpiece or a more traditionally decorated fruitcake, with so many options, where do you even begin when trying to choose the perfect cake for your big day and where did the notion of a wedding cake originate from in the first place?
Interestingly, what we know to be a wedding cake today was not historically a cake at all. Although wedding cakes in various forms are seen prior to this period, in the 17th century we see what became known as a ‘bride pie’. These elaborately decorated creations, often meat filled were used as a centrepiece for the wedding feast, the more decadent the filing, the higher the class of the family.
As we move through history, Britain’s extensive empire meant that previously expensive ingredients such as sugar became more easily importable and prices dropped, meaning that we begin to see the wedding cakes that we are familiar with seeing today begin to take shape. The Victorian period saw a huge increase in the tiered, white iced cakes, the white symbolising purity, that we would consider traditional today. Even the lower echelons of society were able to emulate the weddings of the rich due to ingredients being so much cheaper. With the introduction of tiers, it became a tradition to save the very top tier of your wedding cake to be used at your first born child’s christening, something that many couples still do even now.
Today there are almost infinite possibilities for your own wedding cake, but if the traditional marzipan and royal icing fruited cake is not your kind of thing, what are some other options?
If you would still like a traditional aesthetic but with something a little less heavy than fruitcake, perhaps consider some different flavour combinations. Maybe a different flavour for every tier meaning that you will have a bit more variety for yourself and your guests. Carrot cake is a popular option as is chocolate but maybe even consider the humble Victoria Sponge, it’s a winner with most people and you’re sure to have none wasted! If elaborate icing and sparkling white seems a bit fussy, consider perhaps what has become known as the ‘naked wedding cake’. Still tiered, but without the icing and the marzipan meaning that the cake itself is left to do the talking. These cakes can look both simple and incredibly pretty adorned with fruits or even just a simple sprinkle of icing sugar, perfect for the laid back country wedding.
Want to bypass cake altogether in favour of something a bit more quirky?
Consider a cheese cake – not your typical lemon and lime variety either, but a cake made of cheese wheels. Many couples are opting for an entirely savoury option at their weddings and many companies offer all of your traditional tiers, but made of cheese instead of cake, you can even choose which varieties of cheese you would like for each tier. It’s not for everyone, but if you don’t have much of a sweet tooth, it might be a good alternative. Similarly, if you want a touch of 17th century England, there are companies that can provide giant pork pies as a quirky, yet traditional alternative.
If what you are after is the wow-factor, the British Isles is blessed with having some incredibly talented craftspeople who can create the most amazing, entirely bespoke cakes, made completely to your own design. It is wise to keep in mind that these kinds of creations can put a bit of a dent in your wedding budget but the end product most definitely outweighs the downsides. You can have a brilliantly show stopping centrepiece for your wedding that is completely personal to you and your partner, something that your guests will remember for a very long time to come. On completely the other side of the financial spectrum, consider enlisting the help of a willing and able friend or relative to make your cake. This can often end up being far more cost effective than other options and can also allow you to spread the preparations of your wedding out a little, taking the pressure off of you ever so slightly. One thing to bear in mind though is that creating a wedding cake is no easy task even for the most accomplished of bakers so do make sure that whoever it is that you enlist is aware of just how much work it could be.
Choosing a cake, on top of everything else that is included with planning your big day, can seem like a daunting prospect but just remember that there are a huge amount of options out there for you to consider and with a little bit of research, even the most indecisive of couples can find their perfect cake.