Cakes at weddings have a long, long history.
The custom of providing such a confection to mark a marriage dates back to pre-Roman times though it has to be said, those early cakes somewhat lacked the beauty and sophistication of today’s versions.
In the Middle Ages an armful of cakes were baked and thrown to the guests by the bride as she left the wedding feast and it was considered lucky to catch one or more.
Today the cake is usually the centre piece of the reception and its cutting and consumption a matter of real ceremony.
Deciding on the sort of wedding cake you want at your wedding is very important, just as important is deciding who is to bake and decorate it.
It is essential to have the very best cake which means it should be baked by a professional or a very talented amateur.
The problem with the rich fruit cake that forms the wedding confection is, it is so rich it can easily resemble a pudding, sink in the middle, or burn during baking or fall victim to any of a dozen other awful things.
The best solution unless you are absolutely certain of a well-meaning friend or relative’s abilities in this direction, is to order the cake from a professional baker whose experience is solid and dependable.
The baker will have a pattern book full of photographs of various styles of cake for you to choose from. Some bakers can offer small samples of the various recipes to taste.
You choose the style, the number of tiers and the type of decoration.
Of course you don’t have to have rich fruit cake. The American habit of a decorated sponge filled with cream is beginning to find favour over here.
It doesn’t travel well though so you can’t send pieces through the post to absent friends.
Three or four tiers are the usual number if a rich fruit cake decorated in traditional fashion is chosen.
Tradition says the bottom tier is cut and consumed at the wedding, the second at the first anniversary and the third is reserved for the Christening of the first child.
The top, fourth tier is cut and pieces sent to absent friends and relatives. Other tiers are normally used as required to supplement the reception servings.
When ordering the cake don’t forget to order a stand. This is not automatically provided unless requested.
It is also a good idea to arrange for the baker to deliver and assemble the cake on the day. This is not the job for a nervous hand.
Always arrange for someone, an usher or relative to supervise further cutting of the cake.
Normally the bride and groom make the first, ceremonial cut for the photographer’s benefit and the cake is then taken away to be cut for the guests.
It is essential to have someone there to ensure only the tiers designated are cut and distributed, that any decorations are safely put aside and that nothing untoward happens to the tiers that are to be retained.