The history of wedding cakes begins in Ancient Rome. Back then, a wedding cake was a plain piece of bread made of wheat or barley (a symbol of fertility and prosperity). The groom had to crumble a cake above his bride’s head and this ritual was supposed to bring prosperity and fertility to the couple. The two of them would then eat a few crumbs and guests would pick them up as tokens of good luck.
The crumbs of the wedding cake were meant to bring good luck to the guests as well as the married couple, but they were particularly important to the bridesmaids who would keep them under their pillows. According to an old superstition, this would make them dream about their future husbands!
The first tiered wedding cake was made in 1703 by Thomas Rich who was inspired by the St Bride’s Church on Fleet Street in London. He fell in love with his employer’s daughter and wanted to make a breath-taking wedding cake with multiple tiers instead of just one.
Did you ever wonder where the cake cutting ritual came from? In the 18th and 19th centuries cutting the wedding cake was considered to resemble the first task a married couple had to perform together, and it was later enriched with the custom of feeding each other which is a symbol of commitment.
An old tradition was to have a cake for the bride and one for the groom. In the 17th century, wedding cakes were coming in pairs, and while one of them was a pretty iced cake, the other one was a dark and heavy fruitcake. The groom’s cake was much smaller and it was cut up and packed in boxes for guests to take home.
The ornate tiered wedding cake with white icing and flamboyant decorations was popularised during the reign of Queen Victoria who established most of the wedding traditions we respect today. Her own cake was an elaborate creation with a stunning topper featuring the figurines of a bride and groom dressed in costumes from Ancient Greece.
Cake makers in Victorian England were commonly making fake top tiers as they didn’t know how to balance the real ones properly. Top tiers were made from spun sugar to create the illusion of volume, while the bottom one was the only edible tier.
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