Good Food Blog
The wonderful world of wedding cakesPosted at 1:08PM, 29 April 2009 by Carol Wilson - Food writer
The start of summer sees the start of the wedding season - the most popular time to tie the knot. Weddings are big business for Britain's £3.5 billion wedding industry, with the cost of the all-important wedding cake averaging around £350, depending on size and design. Wedding cakes, like the bride's dress, are subject to the whims of fashion, with celebrity weddings and cake designers setting new trends.
The once traditional grand multi-tiered heavily fruited cake, decorated with royal icing flowers, doves, horseshoes and bells was created for Victorian royal weddings. These sugary edifices set the style for many years and remained virtually unchanged until the 1980s, when tastes veered towards something simpler; a lighter sponge cake replaced the rich fruit cake and intricately piped royal icing began to be replaced by soft icing, draped and frilled and often garlanded with sugar paste flowers.
Contemporary cakes can be any size, shape, colour or flavour and the choice is limitless with virtually any request, no matter how outlandish, realised in cake...
Nowadays anything goes when it comes to wedding cakes. Contemporary cakes can be any size, shape, colour or flavour and the choice is limitless with virtually any request, no matter how outlandish, realised in cake, icing and sugarpaste. At my friend's wedding recently they had an ambulance cake complete with sugarpaste figures of the happy couple - a doctor and a nurse!
Being a chocoholic, for my own wedding I chose a stacked rich dark chocolate cake, decorated with edible fresh and sugar paste flowers. Favourites with today's brides are small cakes stacked and decorated to look like a pile of boxed wedding presents; tiers of pastel coloured iced cup cakes decorated with edible sparkles; American style stacked cakes covered with soft icing; novelty cakes based on a humorous event associated with the newlyweds and a tower of individual desserts instead of cake.
For something completely different there's the French croquembouche - a tempting pyramid of choux pastry balls filled with whipped cream and decorated with candied fruits, rosettes of whipped cream, and spun sugar. Madonna chose a croquembouche for her wedding to Guy Ritchie.
Southern states of the USA weddings feature a smaller Groom's Cake alongside the wedding cake, usually in the shape of the groom's favourite hobby, e.g. baseball bat, camera or golf bag. I haven't come across this in Britain though.
Wedding cakes have certainly come a long way since ancient Roman weddings were finalised by breaking a cake of wheat or barley over the bride's head as a symbol of good fortune! But custom still decrees that whatever the shape or size of cake, the newlyweds must cut the cake together to symbolise sharing their future.
Do you know of any unusual wedding cakes?