wedding cake

Cake Traditions to Sweeten Your Wedding
There are a wealth of strange traditions surrounding the cake that you might be interested in including at your wedding reception.

There are a wealth of strange traditions surrounding the cake that you might be interested in including at your wedding reception.

The world has seen its fair share of bizarre wedding customs over the centuries. While some practices are going to appear odd to those who are not part of a specific culture, there are certain rituals even long-standing members of a group find weird. Interestingly, many of these acts have to do with the cake. While you might already be familiar with one or two of these customs, there are a wealth of strange traditions surrounding the cake that might take you by surprise.

Learning about some of these fascinating rituals can help you to determine whether or not you want to include any of them in your reception. Take a look at these cake-related customs, and discover the lengths people will go in the name of tradition.

Smash It Up

To kick things off, it can be fun to start with a more well-known custom: the smashing of the cake. At modern weddings, guests can often get a kick out of watching a couple cut the cake and then waiting in anticipation to see if the cake will get smashed in someone’s face. Some couples love this tradition and happily grab handfuls of cake to rub on their partner’s cheeks. Still, other couples are happier keeping their clothes free of sugar and frosting. Interestingly, the custom itself seems to have developed from another weird one.

According to certain European wedding traditions, it was common for a groom to take a few bites off of a loaf of bread baked specifically for the event. Upon biting off a tiny edge of the bread, the groom would then hold the loaf above the head of the bride and shower her with crumbs. After all the bread was crumbled above her, the guests of the wedding would be invited to come and collect crumbs from the ground. The crumbs collected symbolized good luck, and when cakes replaced bread as the preferred nuptial treat, smashing the cake became lucky.

Two-Cake Town

One cake at your reception might be a delicious idea, so why not make it two? Recent years have seen a shift in the number of cakes at weddings. The main reason behind this seems to be to allow both partners the chance to have a bit of creative freedom. Compromise is often the key to a happy relationship, but there are certain happy mediums that might be difficult to find. For example, you’re never going to win when you’re fighting against a partner who wants a chocolate cake. It just won’t happen.

Instead of fighting a losing battle, you can find a lot more joy in having two cakes. The beauty of this option is that you do not need to get two lavish options. You can get two wonderful cakes that are smaller in size and allow guests the option of trying whatever option appeals to them. This is a more modern practice, so there really aren’t any fascinating facts surrounding it. Still, you may find the choice of bringing a second cake into the picture to be too sweet to pass up.

Purity or Price?

The tradition of having a white cake at a wedding is also one with interesting roots. Though white is usually used at ceremonies to symbolize purity, the real reason cakes are white is because of cost. The purer the sugar used in the frosting, the whiter the results. White became the norm as people over the decades raced to see who could boast the whitest confection of the season.

Though there are many interesting traditions surrounding the cake, it is hard to imagine a wedding without one. Discover what customs are the most appealing for your own event by exploring the other fascinating stories out there.

The Fascinating Story Behind Wedding Cake Toppers
Wedding cake toppers remain a popular way to add a decorative touch and personal style to wedding festivities.

Wedding cake toppers remain a popular way to add a decorative touch and personal style to wedding festivities.

Cake toppers have stood on the summits of multilayered sugary wedding confections for several decades as both decorative touches and symbolic representations of happy newlywed couples. While sources disagree on when their use became widespread, they’ve become a staple at many nuptial gatherings both south of our border and here in Canada. This custom has remained as both an enduring tradition and an opportunity to express each couple’s ethos and personal style.

Origins in the United States 

When did the first toppers grace wedding cakes in North America? It depends on who you ask. In their book “Cinderella Dreams: The Allure of the Lavish Wedding,” authors Cele Otones and Elizabeth Pleck mentioned that pairs of figurines representing newlywed couples came into use during the 1950s and were intended to embody the value of togetherness. Meanwhile, blogger Donna Sundblad places their origin before the United States Civil War, noting that affluent families were the first to adopt the trend.

According to Sundblad, the very first toppers usually consisted of flowers, bells or other small objects that represented the newlywed pair. They were typically handcrafted by a member of their families or sculpted by a professional baker with frosting, icing or plaster of Paris. The Smithsonian’s Museum of American History website exhibited a pair of figurines manufactured sometime in the middle or late 20th century, adding that they were more sophisticated and detailed in design than simpler toppers created in the early 1900s. As these decorations became more complex, they expanded to include versions with monogrammed initials, short phrases and shapes such as hearts, bells, bows and even half-moons.

Modern Interpretations of Cake Toppers

As times have changed, so have cake toppers. Sundblad gave one example in her blog post of groom figurines in military uniform becoming widely available for weddings during World War II. Also, the legalization of marriage equality in our country in 2005 translated into more LGBTQ individuals tying the knot. According to a Statistics Canada report, census figures from 2006 and 2011 revealed that the number of same-gender wedded couples almost tripled, rising to 21,015. With the changing demographics of Canada’s citizenry, merchants slowly began selling customized toppers to reflect the racial and ethnic backgrounds of the couples purchasing them as well as to provide options for same-gender wedded pairs.

These greater customization capabilities have also given rise to some new trends. Enterprising couples have gotten creative, using inspiration from pop culture and working with their bakers to craft unique cakes. As a result, many of them also pick toppers that integrate with or match the cakes’ designs. For example, it’s not unusual to see figurines dressed in Starfleet uniforms or Jedi robes. You might also see cake designs borrowed from popular fictional franchises such as Doctor Who, with its iconic time-traveling blue police box sitting atop these multilayered delights.

Top Tips for Your Toppers

Thinking of including a decorative touch on top of your wedding cake? The experts over at The Pink Bride dispense some important planning advice:

  • Pick objects that complement your dessert’s overall look
  • Make sure your topper fits your event’s theme
  • Silhouettes, monogrammed toppers and food-safe flowers can be great choices
  • Go for timeless over trendy if you’re saving the topper for future generations

Whether as a mode of quirky personal expression or as just one detail in a wedding’s overall theme and style, the popularity of cake toppers doesn’t appear to be diminishing anytime soon. Both brick-and-mortar and online vendors offer a wide range of products and personalization options from which couples can choose. While picking yours probably won’t be difficult, it’s vital to remember your cake’s design and your wedding theme when making your selection.

 

 

For a Unique Wedding Cake Option, Try a Croquembouche
A French Croquembouche can be a delicious alternative to a traditional wedding cake.

A Croquembouche can be a unique wedding cake option.

With the number of French contributions to our culture, you probably won’t be surprised to find a croquembouche at a Canadian wedding. However, you might not be familiar with the history, details and preparation behind these fascinating pastry desserts. Whether you’ve adopted a French theme for your festivities or just want a different type of wedding cake for your reception, this delightful tower of goodness might be just right for your crowd.

Origins in 19th Century France 

While much of Canada was still under British rule, a young Parisian baker began crafting a pastry creation that would become his enduring legacy. In January 2017, the U.S. media network National Public Radio website published a piece on legendary French chef Marie-Antoine Carême, the famed inventor of the croquembouche. Born to an impoverished family around 1783 or 1784, he was presumably orphaned by social turmoil resulting from the French revolution. Carême began working in a Paris kitchen at the age of eight, and by the time he was 15 years old, he’d landed a position as an apprentice to top-rated pastry chef Sylvain Bailly.

As Carême honed his craft during his late teen years, Bailly regularly displayed Carême’s stunningly elaborate pastries in his bakery shop window. By the late 1700s, this young sensation had fashioned a tower of small, round cream puffs called “choux” festooned with spun sugar. A recipe for this dessert, which he called a croquembouche, was published in his 1815 cookbook “Le Pâtissier royal parisien.” Meanwhile, Carême continued to rise to culinary stardom, designing lavish, beautiful sweets for the likes of Napoleon, Russia’s Czar Alexander I and prince regent George IV of England.

The Croquembouche in the Modern World

While there are many modern variations on this delicious pastry, they still follow the same basic format: a tall mountain of cream puffs covered in spun sugar and other wonderful edibles. You’ll probably have no difficulty finding bakers in any province to supply one for your special day, and it’s an appropriate wedding cake for many types of wedding themes. Wedding Bells Magazine showcased a French vintage matrimonial affair in a 2012 piece on its website, adding that the couple chose a croquembouche to add a delicate grandeur to their festivities.

If you think that such a spectacular wedding cake should get its own entrance and fanfare, you’re absolutely right. In fact, contributor Kim Petyt on The Good Life France blog revealed that a croquembouche is usually not presented until dessert time. With the lights dimmed and celebratory music playing, guests typically begin chanting “Le gateau! Le gateau!” as the star of the hour is brought out to the dining hall while decorated in small, sizzling fireworks. Once the display is over, the staff serves each guest three or four of the sweet, creamy choux to enjoy.

Flavorful Possibilities Abound

In both exterior decorative touches and inner fillings, the croquembouche presents a wide variety of lovely flavors. Traditionally, each choux contains vanilla-bourbon crème in the center. Nevertheless, bakeries offer several popular filling choices which can include favorites such as caramel and chocolate, or less common tastes like rose, pistachio or orange blossom. Besides spun sugar or pastel-tinted icing, a croquembouche wedding cake can be decked out in sugared almonds, chocolate, candied ribbons or even edible flowers.

A Delicious Wedding Cake Idea for Your Nuptial Affair 

The croquembouche is a distinctive and delightful wedding cake that offers a complex combination of aesthetics, French culture and flavor. Its name appropriately translates to “crunch in the mouth,” and your guests will enjoy the taste and texture of this now-classic sweet treat. Add to that the customary celebratory fanfare with which it’s presented during your festivities, and your croquembouche will certainly be a memorable part of your wedding day.