Let ’em eat cake
Consider the wedding cake.
The bride and groom both have their hands on the cake cutter smiling at the camera as one of their first acts after being joined together is to hack something apart.
You’re wondering, “Who thought up the wedding cake, anyway?”
We’re glad you asked.
The wedding cake has its origins in the Roman Empire, even before icing was invented. A loaf of barley bread was baked for the ceremony. The groom would then eat some of the bread and break the remaining piece over the bride’s head.
In medieval England and other parts of Europe, the cakes were not cakes in the conventional sense. They were described as flour-based sweet foods as opposed to the description of breads which were just flour-based foods without sweetening. When Marie Antoinette advised the starving masses, “Let them eat cake,” when told they could not afford to make bread, she paid for it at the guillotine. The presence of the cake was included in many celebratory feasts by folks who weren’t Marie Antoinette. However, there are no accounts of a special type of cake appearing wedding ceremonies. There are tales of a custom involving stacking small sweet buns in a large pile in front of the newlyweds. The couple would then attempt to kiss over this pile, with success being a sign of many children in the couple’s future. One enterprising bride in Aspen used Krispy Kreme donuts to construct her cake. We’ll keep you posted on whether they end up with one child for every Krispy Kreme.
In the early 19th century, a bride’s pie was a popular dish. First appearing in the mid-17th century, it was a pie filled with sweet breads, a mince pie, or by some accounts, just a simple mutton pie. The main ingredient was a glass ring. An old adage claims that the lady who finds this ring will be the next to wed. Vail’s Cassie Pence served pies at her September wedding. Both the bride and the pies were stunning.
In the late 19th century, the wedding cake became popular, supplanting the bride’s pie. The cakes were originally given the title “bride cakes” to emphasize that the focal point of the wedding was the bride (Many other objects were prefixed with the word “bride” such as the bride bed, bridegroom and bridesmaid. All these terms have altered or disappeared with the exception of bridesmaid.) The early cakes were simple single-tiered cakes, usually a plum cake, but variations were recorded. It was a while before the first multi-tiered cake appeared that the wedding cake started to resemble the modern version.
What do women want?
William Shakespeare first asked that question and if Shakespeare, who wore tights and wrote sonnets, couldn’t figure out what women want, what chance doo wehave?
It’s really pretty simple. If you want to know what women want, you ask them.
So we did. We dialed up Natalie Joly of Mirabelle’s restaurant in Beaver Creek, who told us.
They are not all alike.
What they make depends on what the bride wants. Most are stackable, some have two flavors. Chocolate fillings like chocolate mousse are becoming more popular. They’re almost all white on the outside with some sort of adornment ” snowflakes, designs, icing flowers, fresh flowers.
All brides have visions, usually something they saw in a magazine ” and all the brides go through all the magazines.
“Everyone has some idea of they want, and most are flexible,” Joly said.
Consider the bride who wanted 120 tiny two-tiered wedding cakes, one for each of her wedding guests.
“We would have done it but it would have taken forever,” Joly said. “She changed her mind when I told her the price.”
Tiered cupcakes are increasingly on the radar. They start with the tiered hardware setup with plates on each level and each level is covered with a series of cupcakes. Cutting the cake is one of the messier events of the day, which can be cured by handing out cupcakes.
More brides are using colored icing as opposed to the traditional white. The colors are usually background colors based on their bridesmaids’ dresses and flower selections.
Fresh flowers and fresh fruit are popping up more.
All bakers agree that you need to give them a month to two months before the wedding for planning purposes. Cakes can be complicated and people can be picky, so it’s best to avoid surprises. Guest lists are living documents and the number of people showing up may change, sometimes up until the day before the wedding.
Giving the bakery plenty of lead time can also give them the time they need to come up with some samples of your cake, because surprises are not a good thing.
And let’s say you want to have some fun with your wedding cake, but you’re not sure what your guests or parents will think. That’s what groom’s cakes are for.
Make it a chocolate 4X4 truck, make it a baseball field, make it a football helmet ” make it anything you want.
Finally, enjoy yourself. You’re going to be looking at that cake in the freezer every day for a year, so make sure you like it.
Joly, who does this for a living, reminds us that just because a bakery has a menu doesn’t mean they won’t be flexible.
After all, it is your cake and your wedding.
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