The wedding cake is often proudly and strategically placed during the wedding reception. Often towering way up into the heavens, it can compete with the bride as the "center of attention" on her big day. This delicious work of art establishes a focal point that the other aspects of the reception can revolve around. For those who prefer a flare for the dramatic, the wedding cake can be wheeled into the room at the end of the reception, providing a "grand entrance" for everyone to see. To many people this grand entrance will perhaps trigger memories of the bride who walked down the aisle earlier in the day.
The wedding cake has evolved over the years. Starting off as a simple symbol of fertility, it has transformed itself into an artistic tradition that can have many different artistic interpretations. For many ancient peoples wheat was a symbol of fertility and a bountiful harvest. The Ancient Romans used to throw grains of wheat at the bride and groom to "wish fertility" to the new couple during their wedding. This custom eventually evolved into bringing little cakes made from wheat to the wedding banquet itself. People would then crumble this cake over the head of the bride to wish the happy couple "many children". The guests would then eat the fallen crumbs as a symbol of sharing in the couple's good fortune.
Many think that this "crumbling of the cake" over the bride's head may have evolved into another wedding day tradition? Do you know what it is? In order to protect the hapless bride from the wheat shower that is to come, bridesmaids draped a cloth over her head before the "crumbling tradition" took place. Many believe that this simple cloth evolved into the wedding veil of today.
Welcome The Middle Ages
During the Middle Ages buns or sweet rolls had replaced the original wheat cakes, but it was still very customary for guests to bring these tasty treats to the wedding. Placed in a huge pile between the bride and groom, if the happy couple was able to kiss over this huge stack of wheat, it was believed that they would be blessed with many children.
It is commonly believed that the next step in the evolution of the traditional cake was performed by a French pastry chef during the 17th century. During a trip to London he happened to observe this "cake piling" ceremony. Upon his return to France he dusted the stack of buns with sugar, and thereby "cemented" them together into one tasty art form. This was to become the first rendition of the tiered and frosted wedding cake, and a forerunner as to what was to come in the years ahead.
The Classic Style
Are you familiar with the classic style of the modern day wedding cake? You know, the one with the distinctive design of smaller tiers as the cake builds vertically? It is believed that this model was inspired by the spire of the 14th century Saint Bride's church in London. How's that for a bit of trivia for you?
Victorian England has brought us many of today's valued wedding traditions. For example, Queen Victoria herself is said to have had a cake that weighed in at 300 lbs. As confectioners and bakers became more daring and skillful, their creations became even more daring and elaborate. When England's Princess Elizabeth and Prince Phillip were married back in 1947, their wedding cake weighed in at a whopping 500 lbs, and was 9 feet tall.
The Version of Today
In today's world the elaborate wedding cake is no longer reserved for the rich and famous. Every couple can share in the tradition of having a wedding cake added to their big day. The wedding cake specialists of today's world have taken their art to towering heights (pardon the pun). Long gone are those bland days when you were limited to a white cake with white frosting. Although a white cake will probably always be the most popular due to its traditional meaning, today's couple is limited only by the limits of their imagination (and budget) when it comes to their wedding cake.
White is definitely the color of a wedding, but did you know that there is another reason why the white is the customary color of a wedding cake? Back in Victorian times the finer ingredients of a wedding cake were scarce and hard to come by. If the cake had a white icing, this revealed the fact that only the best and most expensive white sugar was being used. Brown sugar was much more common, and therefore much less expensive. So, the more white the cake, the richer the people.
Be Sure To Plan Ahead
Don't leave your special wedding cake until the last minute. This is one of the most important things that you can remember. Whether you choose the baker down the road, a talented family member, or a pastry chef who specializes in these tasty masterpieces, if you plan well in advance you will be able to handle whatever obstacles might come your way. Some bakers require only a minimum notice, while many bakers are booked far in advance. It's a shame to have that perfect cake of your dreams be "cancelled" due to the fact you cannot allocate a baker's time.
What's that you say? You have no idea who will be baking your wedding cake? If you don't have a particular baker in mind, you have a bit of homework ahead of you. Shop around and get some good recommendations from family and friends. Browse the yellow pages and the internet as they are both valuable informational resources. If you happen to be surfing the web you will see that many bakers today are posting photos of some of their masterpieces. As a sort of masterpiece cake gallery, they showcase what they are capable of producing. This will jog your imagination as to what you would like your own wedding cake to look like.
Have you thought about staging your masterpiece? This comes next. Be sure to take the wedding cake stand into consideration during your planning phase. While some cakes can be simply placed on flat boards that will not be seen by the general public, others are elaborately displayed on beautiful stands for everyone to see. Keep in mind the simple fact that actual size of the cake table must be in proportion to the actual size of your cake. A table that is too small will make the cake look way too big, while a table that is too large will make it look like a tiny cupcake. And before we forget, your cake table will need a beautiful covering to compliment its strategic location at the wedding reception. Oh, don't forget the cake knife and cake server. There needs to be a place on the table for these two items as well.
The topper "tops off" your special wedding cake. The "wedding cake topper" is the name for the elegant decoration or figure that sits atop a wedding cake. While it is true that some couples prefer to have the simple style of an unadorned cake, many prefer to have that final "crowning touch", the wedding cake topper, sitting on top of the upper layer of the cake. In today's world the simple plastic "bride and groom" of yesteryear has more likely been replaced by the classic porcelain figurine of today.
So what types of wedding cake toppers are available to us today? We're glad you asked. Many different types of figures are available. They range from the classic poses to figurines depicting some of the potentially "humorous" aspects of the wedding. For example, a bride dragging the hapless groom back to the altar. Personalized wedding cake toppers are also popular these days, while niche toppers such as a "marine marriage" have their place as well.
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