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Sugar Crushes: History of Wedding Cake & Tasting Tips


Eating cake is undeniably one of life’s guilty pleasures. The look, smell, and taste, of cake, never disappoints. It always provides sugary comfort, as well as connections to good times, and is practically available for any and all occasions—even when nothing is happening. Cake, in general, is an irresistible staple of our culture. I’m even enjoying a red velvet cake flavored protein shake as I type this.

For the Love of Cake

Pure and simple—cake is beloved. As you can see below, it’s admiration has been documented in several forms: 

bride and groom in blue suit eating wedding cake

Rhianna has a popular song about cake. (Yes, it may or may not be about actual cake, but for the purposes of this blog, the song DOES say cake. A lot.)

There are numerous cake shows. For your viewing pleasure, I’ve listed some of the Internet’s top recommendations:

  • Ace of Cakes
  • Amazing Wedding Cakes 
  • Cake Boss
  • Cake Boss: Next Great Baker
  • Cake Wars
  • Cupcake Girls
  • Cupcake Wars
  • DC Cupcakes
  • Fabulous Cakes
  • Food Network Challenge  – Cake, Chocolate, Sugar
  • Have Cake, Will Travel
  • Nailed It
  • Sugar Rush
  • Sweet Genius
  • Top Chef: Just Desserts
  • Ultimate Cake Off

Artists like Wayne Thiebaud and others worldwide have created countless works of you guessed it—Cake art!

Back to celebrations, though. Let’s take a look at weddings. These affairs, in particular, are special because wedding cakes are a huge symbol of the event. Weddings also offer the possibility of two cakes. There’s usually the wedding cake itself, which is often exquisite and on point with pretty much all wedding decor. Then there’s sometimes a groom’s cake, which is usually not part of the theme whatsoever, but still equally as delicious looking. 

wedding cake with pink roses and word cake topper

The Evolution of Wedding Cakes

A wedding cake is considered a representation of love. According to Reader’s Digest, it all started in Ancient Rome when a wheat or barley cake that emulated a scone, was broken over a bride’s head. It remains unclear (to me, at least) who broke the cake over the bride’s head, but apparently, it was to symbolize luck and fertility. As to why those specific items were used, that’s still a mystery, too. Either way, upon the breaking of this cake, the couple had a few bites to show they were united in marriage and afterward, the guests ate the leftover crumbs, supposedly for good luck. 

Over time, the wheat and barley creations went away, and wedding cakes transitioned into stacks of spiced buns, scones, and cookies. Sometime later, these pastry stacks began debuting fragments of a broom handle. I’m guessing for decoration? Regardless, it doesn’t sound remotely edible. Moving along, in the 1700s, someone introduced a bridal pie, which isn’t any more appealing than the pieces of broom, truth be told. Among the bridal pies’ ingredients were none other than oysters and male lambs’ reproductive organs. Eww. 

I even read that single ladies at weddings had to eat their way through the same questionable pie to find a hidden ring, should they want to be the next to get married. (It was like their version of a bouquet toss.) Um, choking hazard, anyone? Thankfully, these pies eventually became a thing of the past and couples started opting for sugar-dusted pies filled with currants, which are either dried grapes like raisins or tiny berries. 

Fast forward to around 1800—This is when our present-day tiered cake entered the picture. According to the story, a baker made a cake that resembled the spire of London’s St. Bride’s Church. What’s interesting is that he actually created it for his girlfriend as part of a proposal. Of course, she loved it and so did everyone else, and now, more than two centuries later, we’re still using the same design.

white and gold wedding cake with blue dessert flowers

Tips for Wedding Cake Tastings

One of the most enjoyable tasks on your wedding to-do list is the cake tasting. This is something you generally want to schedule around six-months in advance, if possible. Keep in mind that with smaller companies or independent bakers, their openings may fill up faster. Below are some suggestions for the tasting:

  • Prepare ideas. It’s best to let your baker know what you’re seeking ahead of time. This should include flavors, taste, and appearance.
  • Know your budget. On average, wedding cakes costs anywhere from $350 to $500. Guest count, aesthetic details and specific ingredients can affect this. A groom’s cake can cost about this much as well; however, if it’s smaller, you can expect to pay about half of that. If it’s a sheet cake, though, bakers typically charge by the slice or per person.
  • Eat a snack beforehand. This may sound counter-intuitive, but the tasting is for trying small portions of cake, not large slices. 
  • Drink water between samplings. Doing so will cleanse your palate, allowing you to enjoy and experience each flavor to the fullest. 

Lastly, don’t forget that there’s more to the decision than the cake alone.  It’s important to choose a vendor you both like and trust. After all, it’s your wedding—You deserve to have your cake and eat it, too!

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