Your Perfect Cake
01 Aug 2011
Your Perfect Cake
The wedding cake ritual goes back to Roman times. While some couples choose unusual styles, traditional tiered cakes are still popular. Here are some ideas for your perfect cake.
Since Roman times a cake has been part of the wedding celebrations, when a thin loaf was broken over the bride’s head at the end of the ceremony. Made from wheat, which symbolised fertility, the cake crumbs were collected by the guests as good-luck charms. By the Middle Ages it had become traditional for the bride and groom to kiss over a pile of small cakes. It was not until a creative baker in the 17th century decided to bring the cakes together and cover them with frosting that the modern, tiered wedding cake came about – although even then it was still crumbled over the bride’s head!
Until recently, the traditional wedding cake was nearly always of rich fruit, which lasted well – a distinct advantage when pieces were sent long distances through the post to absent friends or family members and needed to be still edible on arrival, often weeks later. Rich fruit cakes are still a popular choice, even more so if the couple intend following the tradition of keeping the top layer to celebrate their first wedding anniversary or the christening of their first child. Whilst many traditionalists still opt for the tiered fruit cake with royal icing and a miniature bride and groom on top, today’s couple is just as likely to choose something much more unusual or sculptural, or to have it decorated to follow the theme of the wedding.
Chocolate cakes, mud cakes, carrot cakes, cheesecakes or ice cream cakes are all high in the popularity stakes; alternatively, you could even choose a cake made up of different flavoured layers which will cater for a variety of tastes and should keep everyone happy. Sponges and similar types of cake will not keep in quite the same way as fruit cakes and will need to be made much closer to the date of the wedding.
Whereas some hotels or caterers will supply the wedding cake as part of their reception service, the cake is more commonly provided by a specialist confectioner. Unless you are calling on a relative or friend to make the cake for you, you will need to put in an order well in advance. Good cake makers are in great demand and can be booked up for months ahead. A traditional wedding cake improves considerably with keeping, and ideally should stand for between six to nine weeks before it is iced – another reason for booking ahead.
How big is a cake?
Wedding cake is traditionally served in 1-inch squares. Given expert cutting, a traditional three-tiered fruit cake of 6in, 9in, or 12in will serve portions approximately as follows:
6in: round - 28, square - 36
9in: round - 64, square - 81
12in: round 115, square - 144
Sponge cakes do not hold together so well so will serve approximately half the same number of people.