The queen of the table: the cake!!
The custom to celebrate an anniversary sitting at the table is as ancient as the humankind is.
If I think about it, whether I want to celebrate some festival or to share joy with my friends what I do? I invite them to dinner.
Eat (and drink) together to celebrate or share whatever joyful (or even sad ) occasion is a ritual which dates back to the dawn of our civilization and the absolute protagonist of it is The Food as symbol of prosperity , fruitfulness and bounty. Indeed an old ritual: to seat and enjoy of company and share joy (or even mourning) with friends and dearest ones.
The most joyful of occasion offered to this ritual is, however, the wedding party. And there is no doubt that the wedding cake is the element of a paramount importance in the organization of a wedding banquet: its possibilities of shape, taste and appearance are solely limited by the personal taste of spouses and the skill of the cake designer:
The cake moment is the climax of feast, the crucial moment of it with a very high symbolic value.
All the guests are gathered around the bride and groom in a location chosen and prepared especially for the entrance of the queen of table.
The waiters bring it intact so that everyone can admire it, wonder about its beauty and perhaps try to figure out its flavor.
Then the cutting of cake… the bride and groom cut the cake together with a unique cut (not a slice) this is to symbolize the union of the couple in every occasion of life.
The very first slice will be served by the bride to his groom this is to symbolize the choice of the bride to share with him the life (exactly as the first slice of cake is for him).
The next slices will be served to the mother in love , to her mother ,to the father in love and finally to her own father (this is to mean that from now on the bride is the new hostess , the absolute landlady in the new building family).
After, that cake will been served to the utmost intimate relatives (to which is to be added the witnesses) and then it will be finally served to all other guests…
Many basic frameworks of wedding cake are today available for skillful confectioners who starting from the basic can create some real masterpieces of confectionery.
Of course, the quality of primary ingredients plays a primary role: they need to be of first choice prior to be worked according the rules of art.
The most popular shape for a wedding cake is the multy -storey cake (3 or 5 storeys): it is made by three (or 5) cakes of (decreasing in dimension while increasing in height) resting on special supports.
An appreciated variant of it is the so said American cake where the various storey made by sponge cake are covered by a delicious icing sugar cloak that allow the creation of real sculptures.
The pyramidal cake, (other ways known as English cake) may be either of cylindrical or cubic shape; for making it, the various layers are stacked one on another without any supporting structure and handsomely decorated by neoclassical festoons.
The single storey cake has very few dimensional or shape limits. Indeed it may be circular or rectangular and for the same fact that is limited in height allows to abound with decorations especially style liberty or floral (but are not to be forgotten the possibilities to decorate it with fruits ….perhaps berries or in general red fruits ….a true gluttony)
The single portion cake or CupCake straight away from USA, it is done by small cakes or by the almost more used cupcakes that are assembled together and then served to guests. It is relevant that these small cakes can eventually be sent to those friends that for a reason or another have not attended the wedding party, a very original idea that will make the newlyweds popular in their entourage.
However will be the choice of your wedding cake you must not forget the cake’s Toppers.
What are they? Simply the figurines representing the spouses, essential and evergreen they Must stay on the cake’s top!
I would say that, provided that the budget does not forecast star high amount only for a monumental 7 storey cake, it is smart to play on the decorations and above all on the toppers that nowadays are ranging in all interpretations from more serious to the most ironic. of them..
Where the use of wedding cake comes from? The cake too like all type of food, has got its own evolution during the elapsing of centuries and surely it has been changed and enriched up to the point that it is now the Queen of a party (and I mean every party not only the wedding party).
I enjoyed a stroll back in time , so to follow the evolution of the wedding cake.
The Greeks baked wheat flour and honey (sugar was still far to come) to make sweet buns to be offered to newlyweds and their guests.. These buns was enriched with sesame and its first slice was to be given to the bride along with a date and quince to wish wealth and fertility.
But, if Greeks were frugal we cannot say the same about old Romans. The Romans were more sophisticated and so their cuisine was: no one can forget the description of pharaonic banquets offered by Petronio Arbiter and described in his masterpiece Satyricon.
In that time the groom was used to offer to his bride a cake done with barley .He broke it up with his hands and scattered all crumbs on the head of bride, then he and all guests ate the crumbs directly from the head of the woman. Indeed a singular ritual that symbolized the end of virginity of bride and the wish for a numerous offspring.
In the middle age, the use to throw grain of rice onto newlyweds had its beginning (as matter of fact it is still in use in our days)
In those times it was common to offer as gift for the spouses some bread loaf and buns that were stacked one on another to form a sort of wall or small mound. Logically as higher was the mound more guests were there.
In the (Anglo)Saxon world it was common enough to cement the pile with lard in such a way to form a solid obstacle between the spouses that must kiss each other stretching out above the wall …this was considered very much augur well.
The legend (for the history does not save neither name nor date) tells that a French cook brought this use in his country and replacing the lard with caramel and bread with cookies invented the ancestress of ‘croquebounche’.
Honestly, I could not say if this tale is true or not, but In France until now a small mound of puffs decorates the top of wedding cake.
In the XVII century in Anglo-Saxons countries was very much spread the tradition of Bride’s Pie. It was a pie made with offal, oysters and seafood. Inside the Bride’s Pie was hidden a glass ring and it was believed that the woman that found it was the next to be married … very much similar to our use of bouquet throw isn’t it?
Moreover the remains of the bride’s pie were given to all single guest (males and females) for it was believed that if somebody would place these remains under his own pillow could dream his future bride (or groom).
And continuing my walk in past centuries I arrive in the late nineteenth century, this is the time when all wedding symbols, as we know them now, were affirmed. I mean that is exactly in these years that all symbols entered in the use of everybody across all nations in Europe and in the States.
Therefore, the round shape of the cake, that symbolizes, as the rings, the endless time of the union the presence of many storey on the wedding cake symbolizing the up and down of life come exactly from the end of 1800 …indeed not so much time ago!
And, by the way, I am pleased to offer to my few readers a small curiosity coming directly from those years : did you know that the wedding cake is white because it was demonstrating the wealth of the bride’s family? In those years, the refined sugar price was star high so that the white Icing cloak covering the cakes was indicating a certain wealth.
The most famous remains, no doubt, the cake served at marriage of Queen Victoria: the famous royal icing a monster of 280 lbs, with the top crowded by decorations : the goddess Britannia the spouses, two dogs , a number of doves and smurfs and festoons spread everywhere. Indeed a truly majestic cake and this is just the case to say it!
In Italy the use of a cake as only possible end of a party has been established a bit later, around the fifties of 1900 and from that time no party (and less than ever a wedding party ) can see its end without the cut of a cake …an inalienable joyful and gourmand tradition !