Origin of the Tiered Wedding Cake

In today’s westernized world, when we think of wedding cake we envision a lovely, delicious, layered sponge cake that is tiered and decorated in either fondant or butter cream with floral or edible embellishments; but what is the origin of the tiered wedding cake?

There is some debate on what the origin of the decadent and statuesque, tiered wedding cake is. Here are the two most popular theories we’ve found floating around. Legend has it originating in 1708 in London, England by a baker’s apprentice. It is said that he fell in love with the Owner’s daughter, asked for her hand in marriage and to impress her, he created a majestic, extravagant cake inspired by the spire of St Bride’s Church. There are no records of this cake, so for now it will simply remain a fable. The one that has been put on record and gets the credit, is the tiered wedding cake of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany in 1882. This cake was completely edible, made in separate layers and with very dense icing which allowed the cakes to be stacked once the icing had hardened, hence the tiered wedding cake. In fact, this very method is still used today with some modifications of course. Since our cakes are so much larger and heavier, they require more support.

The traditional name for a wedding cake was a Bride’s cake as it would reflect the Bride and it was a simple one-tiered pound cake with icing sugar. However as sugar became more refined and whiter, variations of icings started to appear. Of course, just like most things back in the Victorian Era that were desirable, sugar was expensive. This meant that the ‘icing on the cake’ became a symbol of wealth. Although It started with a dustings of refined icing sugar it quickly evolved into silky white icing that we still use today called Royal Icing. The wealthier you were the sweeter and nicer the cake would look.

Nowadays, sugar is easily accessible and not expensive at all, so the sky’s the limit with what you can select for your cake. Today’s wedding cakes, can be 1 tiered to as many tiers as you’d like; experimenting with different flavours and designs is encouraged and cake colours match your wedding theme. Some Brides are even choosing to be more unique and bend tradition a little bit. Here is one Bride’s take on the traditional tiered wedding cake: A mini version given out as a wedding favour to each of her guests in lieu of having a full wedding cake on display. All in all, the tradition of the tiered wedding cake that is a focal point at your wedding reception is still the most common choice.

Toronto Mini Cake made by the Cake Guys in Woodbridge, Ontario

What kind of cake do you envision for your wedding day?

Fun Fact: Did you know that the colour white associated with weddings has it’s roots in the Victorian Era and was made popular first by Queen Victoria? She was the first to wear an all white wedding dress and have a full white icing Bride’s Cake for her daughter, Princess Vicky.

Wedding of Princess Victoria

Wedding of Princess Victoria ‘Vicky’ (Queen Victoria’s oldest child) and Crown Prince Frederick William ‘Fritz’ of Prussia
Photo Credit: Wikipedia

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