The Wedding Cake vs The Groom’s Cake

A Victorian inspired wedding cake for today.

A Victorian inspired wedding cake for today.

In A Bride’s Cake I recounted the glories and disappointments of the wedding cakes of my childhood.

But there was an exception, one cousin had an exquisite cake made from a new little shop that had just opened up called Konditorei.  Well let me tell you an Austrian Konditor knows how to make a wedding cake! It was topped with sugar flowers that looked like glass.  It was intricate, delicate and and romantic enough to please any Victorian bride.

(The Konditor creation is not pictured, this one is my own wedding cake)

did you know?

In Victorian England it was all the rage to have not just one cake but two and possibly three.(assuming you were of the class that had cake at their wedding)

Last week we discussed 5 tips to insure your bride’s cake is as light and airy as the bride herself.

Now for the star, THE wedding cake, the thing of sculptured beauty . The cake that was boxed up for guests to take home so that unmarried ladies might sleep with it beneath their pillows. (One can only presume the purpose of this was to dream of their future groom.)


It was common to send a small box of cake to those who could not attend the wedding such as your tenants, or bed ridden great aunt. If you are of a vindictive nature you might ensure a piece is sent to your arch rival, the parting shot.

The wedding cake had a table to itself to show off it’s glory and magnify it’s importance.

wedding cake cutting, Victorian wedding cake, victorian wedding, 1880's girl wedding

We did not go for a traditional cake, I can’t remember all the layers but my layer was chocolate with Raspberry filling. It was not a disappointment.

Last but not least there was the groom’s cake, meant to be strong, dark and rich as one would hope any groom worth his salt would be.

So far, no confusion.

  • Bride’s cake–light and airy
  • Wedding cake–big and showy
  • Groom’s cake–dark and rich.

Having that all straight I went delving for recipes and it all got muddied.  All my sources agree as to the bride’s cake white, light and airy.

The confusion lies in that both the wedding cake and groom’s cake are described as dark, made with molasses, possibly with chocolate, dried fruit and soaked in or flavored with liqueur. Other sources recommend a pound cake or equally heavy batter of substance for the wedding cake leaving the fruit and alcohol for the groom’s cake.

One friend insisted on a good solid fruit cake for his wedding, any other cake simply wouldn’t be a wedding cake.

Personally I doubt there were any hard and fast rules about the cake as long as it was tasty and solid enough to hold up the elaborate decorations.

Maybe this is how we ended up with the modern tiered cakes each layer a different flavor.

Hear is the recipe from The Original Fannie Farmer 1896 Cook Book for a wedding cake that could be passed off as a groom’s cake

Wedding Cake

  • 1 lb. butter
  • 1 lb. sugar.
  • 12 eggs
  • 1 lb. flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon each: nutmeg,allspice, mace
  • 1/2 teaspoon clove
  • 3 lbs. raisins seeded and cut in pieces.
  • 1 lb currants
  • 1 lb citron thinly sliced and cut in strips
  • 1 lb figgs finely chopped.
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice.

Cream the butter, add sugar gradually, and beat thoroughly. Separate yolks from whites of eggs; beat yolks until thick and lemon colored, whites until stiff and dry, and add to first mixture.  Add flour (excepting one-third cup, which should be reserved to dredge fruit) mixed and sifted, with spices, brandy and lemon juice. Then add fruit, except citron, dredged with reserved flour. Dredge citron with flour and pu in layers between cake mixture when putting int he pan. Bake same as English Fruit Cake. That is…

Put in deep pans, cover with buttered paper, steam three hours, and bake one and one-half hours in a slow oven, or bake four hours in a very slow oven.

It seems to me you need a mighty lot of experience to make up for what isn’t explained in these recipes but they are fun to read.

Tip of the Day for the Victorian Baker:  “Currants bought in bulk need through cleaning. First roll in flour, which helps to start dirt; wash in cold water, drain and spread to dry; then roll again in flour before using.” (rolling in flour prevents the currants from all settling at the bottom.)

Stay tuned for more fascinating tidbits and morsels of Victorian cakey goodness.


A Brides Cake and 5 Tips For The Victorian Baker

A beautiful reprint of the original cook book, complete with Victorian advertisements, out dated punctuation and at times sketchy detail.

A beautiful reprint of the original cook book, complete with Victorian advertisements, out dated punctuation and at times sketchy detail.

Do you remember attending weddings as a child?

I don’t know about you but next to the dress my  favourite thing was the cake. That tower of loveliness with its flowers and and ribbons, promising such great things but more often than not proving a bitter disappointment,  too sweet, too dry with flavourless foamy icing and slightly salty flowers.

To avoid having one of those cakes that are better to look at than to eat try this recipe from The Boston Cooking-school’s Original Fannie Farmer 1896 Cook Book . Don’t forget to follow the 5 tips extracted from the instructions for mixing butter cakes. These are real tips for real Victorian’s so warm up those arm muscles and get ready for some serious mixing.

Bride’s Cake

  • 1/2 cup butter.
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar.
  • 1/2 cup milk.
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar.
  • Whites six eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoons almond extract

Follow recipe for mixing butter cakes. Bake forty-five to fifty minutes in deep, narrow pans. cover with white frosting.

For mixing Butter Cakes

  1. An earthen bowl should always be used for mixing cake, and a wooden cake-spoon with slits lightens the labour
  2. Count out number of eggs required, breaking each separately that there may be no loss should a stale egg chance to be found in the number, separating yolks from whites if rule so specifies.
  3. When yolks and whites of eggs are beaten separately, whites are usually added at the last as is the cas when whites of eggs alone are used.
  4. A cake can be made fine grained only by long beating, although light and delicate with a small amount of beating.
  5. And never stir a cake after the final beating, remembering that beating motion should always be the last used.

Mixing the cake is only the beginning. “The baking of cake is more critical than the mixing. Many a well mixed cake has been spoiled in the baking”. 

There is an entire page of fine print, unalleviated by paragraphs, devoted to the details of baking cakes, remember at this time “no oven thermometer has yet proved practical“.  It gives guidance on how to open, check and raise back covers, or to leave oven door ajar all without disturbing the cake. Also it warns against putting the cake too close to the fire box as it may burn on one side.

How much we take for granted when we cook our cakes, pre-washed fruit, ovens that stay mostly a constant temperature and do not require years of experience to expertly operate and not to be forgotten,  reliable baking powder.

This is all extremely fascinating but I opened with tantalizing memories of wedding cakes not bride’s cakes. “What?” I hear you say, “Aren’t they one and the same thing?”

No gentle reader they are not.

There are Brides’s cakes, Groom’s cake and Wedding cakes to be covered in more detail on Monday.

Don’t forget the flowers of the week….

What emotion should you call up if you find someone has slipped a French Marigold and sprig of Frog Ophrys on your pillow? And who would send such a message?

leave your guesses in the comments or tweet me @seahamber.