Showstopping Cakes

Now, you’ve got the dress, the day, and your bridesmaids and groomsmen all ready to go—you need cake. After all, what’s a party without a little cake? Well, not cake but pie or it was a barley loaf first. Like, Roman Empire first.  


The barley loaves were baked and after the groom took a bite of the loaf, he would break the rest of it over the bride’s head; some think it is the reason a veil became included in the bride’s wardrobe (it’s better than the other theory that this tradition was an act of dominance of the groom over the bride…). Guests would pick up pieces of the crumbled barley bread.

Fast forward to the 19th century and bride pies (spelled with a “y”) which were just filled with sweetmeats or even just a mutton pie. Before the bride “pyes” were in vogue, it was just stacks of sweet buns. If the bride and groom were able to kiss each other over the stacks, then it was a sign of many children in the couple’s future.

Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding cake photo provided by Hello Magazine

Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding cake photo provided by Hello Magazine

The most important ingredient in the bride pies was a glass ring. When a lady finds the ring, it was believed that she would be the next to wed. Moving into the next century, bride pies fell out of style and plum cakes became the new thing. The bride cakes were only one tier, not the showstoppers we have today.

As we move forward into the Victorian era, white wedding cakes became the style. Sugar began to be more affordable because there were over 50 sugar refineries in London, England. The precursor of royal icing was more like a meringue: egg whites and sugar then returned to the oven to harden. It required vigilance as they weren’t looking for color.

The white icing was a symbol of the family’s wealth; finer, more refined sugar was needed for the white color and it also represented the purity of the bride. The designs were intricate; Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding cake totaled 500 pounds.

The tradition of saving the top tier of the cake began in the late 19th century. The bride and groom would preserve the cake for their first child’s christening as opposed to their first anniversary. People got busy early back then and it was more cost efficient to have leftover cake for the christening than to have a new one made.

Elaborate Victorian style wedding cakes remained in style until the 1980s in England. English brides then switched to simpler cakes. Now, brides have their choice of wedding cakes, from simple naked cakes to upside-down five-tiered centerpieces.

Anna CooperComment