September 8, 2015
The contemporary wedding cake has grown out of several different ethnic traditions, dating back to Ancient Rome, where bread was broken over the bride’s head to bring good fortune to the couple. Given that wedding cakes have been around for so long and so much has been written about them, many of the traditions and some of the information in the wedding industry has gotten a little out of date. So for a fresh take on the modern wedding cake I thought I would debunk some old wives tales for you!
1. Wedding cakes are usually made of fruit cake
Fruit cake has been a traditional wedding cake flavour dating back to the 17th century. However these days only a few of my clients request fruit cake, probably 5-10% at most, and it is almost always only one tier. Partly due to the fact that many of my clients don’t like fruit cake, but also It is worth noting that fruit cake is often more costly due to the expensive ingredients and long baking times.
2. You must keep the top tier of your wedding cake
There is a time honoured tradition of keeping the top tier of your wedding cake for either your first anniversary or christening. While I think this is a beautiful sentiment the reality can be something else. Firstly, in order to keep the cake, it must be made from fruit cake and preserved with marzipan which most couples find unappealing. Secondly, you have to keep your cake in the freezer for a year, let me tell you those things take up a lot of freezer room! The end result is that many couples are opting out of this tradition, however all is not lost, can I suggest keeping some decorations from the wedding cake, such as sugar flowers, figurines and ribbons and dressing a brand new fresh cake with these to keep the spirit of the tradition alive.
If you are a traditionalist and wish to preserve you cake, there are some great instructions here: wedding cake preservation
3. Having part of my cake made from Styrofoam saves money
If a magazine editor is reading this post, please stop putting this tip in your wedding articles, it is not true! The cost of cakes is largely made up of decorating time, icing, sugar flowers etc. The actual ‘cake’ is made of eggs, flour etc, and does not contribute a huge amount to the price. Therefore replacing a tier with Styrofoam, will probably only save you $50 or so as the cake decorator still needs to ice and decorate it. One of the reasons cake decorators use Styrofoam in wedding cakes is for the weight. A four tier wedding cake can weigh as much as 60 kg, too heavy to safely lift, so with bigger cakes decorators will replace a tier with Styrofoam to make sure the cake is not too heavy.
4. It is cheaper to have cupcakes
This is one of the biggest myths of all; I advise my clients that if they want to go with cupcakes for a wedding they can expect to double the cost if they get all the extras. The best way is to illustrate it here, with this cupcake stack we made Megan Gale for 60 guests.
Cutting Cake: $250
60 x $12 Cupcakes: $600
Custom Made Stand: $200
Packaging & Delivery: $200
Total: $1250 (this works out at $20 per guest)
5. It’s customary for guests to take a piece of cake home
This tradition is lovely when you have a nice piece of firm fruit cake to package and box nicely, that will keep fresh for a week or so and not go stale. However this tradition can get quite ugly if you are the guest who has to fish out a warm piece of squashed chocolate cake from your handbag the day after a big wedding. This tradition works brilliantly with firm cakes and individual cakes such as cupcakes, however it does not work as well with modern flavours. It also requires boxes and extra labour in cutting and packaging the cake, it can become quite time consuming and costly and as a general rule I would advise against it unless it’s something you really want to do.