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.
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
- 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.