Wedding cakes in Britain can be traced back to medieval times when they would have been made of wheat and thrown at the Bride as a symbol of fertility. However, this tradition has long since changed (thank goodness!). The tradition of tall wedding cakes comes from baked goods being piled high and the couple having to attempt to kiss over the mound. If they managed without knocking over the pile, they would have a lifetime of prosperity. The tradition of having a tiered wedding cake came later in the 18th Century when a baker fell in love with his boss’s daughter. He wanted to impress her with a beautiful, large cake and took inspiration from the spire of St Bride’s church in London. Over the years the tradition of the wedding has changed many times, and now it is changing again, with us seeing less ‘traditional’ wedding cakes, and more alternatives.
For many, a traditional wedding cake is a central feature of a wedding – a masterpiece for all to oooh and ahhh at and wonder at its beauty. However, many don’t like the idea of a traditional wedding cake and would prefer something a bit different. So, we thought we would explore some different ideas for you if you are someone who doesn’t want to stick to the traditional cake but still want something as a centrepiece of the day. We have found some ideas which will see just as many oooh and ahhhs as the traditional cake would.
Cupcake towers came into fashion a few years ago and have real staying power. What we thought was a fad has fast become a very popular alternative of which we are seeing almost as many of as we are traditional cakes. Cupcakes allow you to mix and match flavours (and account for any guests with allergies such as gluten free) and pull in any colours which make up the theme of your day. No messing cutting up of the cake for the hotel or caterers to serve on plates for guests to just sit and pick at and get wasted. Cupcakes can be packed into pretty little boxes and given to your guests as favours as they leave. If you would still like something to cut, after all it is a firm wedding tradition which guests would expect, choose a tower with a giant cupcake or a larger cake as the top layer so you can cut this.
A traditional French wedding cake, but something very spectacular and non-traditional here. A croquembouche is a wedding cake made from filled choux buns held together with spun sugar in an impressive pyramid. This is an unusual yet very elegant alternative which really has the ‘wow’ factor! The tower can be cut by the Bride and Groom and then taken apart into individual choux buns for your guests to devour! With a filling made from cream, this is not the ideal choice for a wedding in the middle of summer and will not keep. A great choice if you wish to use your wedding cake as dessert as then none will be wasted.
Another popular choice for people who want to use their wedding cake as dessert for their guests. If you and your partner are big cheesecake fans, this is the one for you! The cheesecakes can be made which ever flavour or flavours you desire and there are a huge variety of toppings available. Profiteroles your partners favourite? Why not top a cheesecake with them for a really indulgent dessert. This is a truly indulgent and equally beautiful alternative to a wedding cake.
Do neither of you have a sweet tooth? Then this could be the answer. A cake made of cheese rounds. The cheese rounds can be built up to create the structure of a traditional wedding cake then decorated using grapes, figs and other fruits, giving a rustic but visually stunning masterpiece. Choose your favourite cheeses and incorporate a few local choices. This is great to then serve as a cheeseboard after your desserts or for your desserts. Alternatively if you would prefer to cut it during your evening reception, (which many do as it gives additional evening guests something to watch along with the first dance) then serve a cheeseboard buffet to your evening guests and as a snack for those guests who have been with you all day. Depending in your guest numbers you may need to buy some extra cheese in addition to your cake to have enough for everyone, then all you need to buy is the crackers and chutneys to serve with the cheese. Often guests only want something smaller in the evening so this would be perfect. Lots of cake bakers are diversifying into these cakes or alternatively head down to your local farm shop or delicatessen to see if they can help.
Recently we have seen the emergence of cake pops, cake crumbs combined with icing or chocolate, moulded into spheres, coated in icing or chocolate and put onto lollipop sticks. They look gorgeous but you did need a sweet tooth for them! They are a real novelty which can be wrapped in cellophane and tied with a bow for your guests to take home with them instead of favours so they don’t get wasted. However, cake pops do not give you anything to cut so similarly to cup cakes it may be best to ask your baker to arrange them so you can have a traditional cake as the top tier so you have something to cut. The cake pops might not be to all your guests tastes, being so sweet so it could be an idea to have something like a fruit cake or carrot cake as the top layer to give them an alternative.
We have seen the emergence of Macaroon Towers over the last season and we think they’re only going to grow in popularity. They are a great alternative to a traditional style wedding cake and will really get a ‘wow’ when your guests see it. They can be in any colour to match the theme of your day and they can be made in a large variety of flavours to match your tastes. Being in a tower formation, the macaroon tower can be cut and then the tower can be taken apart into individual macaroons and served to your guests. Its great to serve them with coffee or you could wrap them in cellophane for your guests to take home with them. We bet though if you put these out on the tables for guests to help themselves to, none would be wasted! They’re too irresistible!
Individual chocolate wrapped cakes
Individual cakes are great in the same way as cup cakes in that they are already split into portions so can be easily given out to your guests and you can then have a variety of flavours. They can be wrapped in white, milk or dark chocolate and the chocolate can even be decorated with a pattern. These cakes have a real ‘wow’ factor, particularly when you look at the detail in the making. They have a more modern look about them and a top larger cake to cut can be made to match the smaller ones identically. These are delicious and very indulgent so would be perfect to serve as dessert, but equally easy to pack up into pretty boxes for your guests to take away with them.
Another type of cake we see emerging this year is Temeri cakes which are a fabulous alternative to cupcakes and have a really special sentiment behind them, perfect for a wedding day. Temeri cakes are inspired by Japanese Temeri balls which are beautiful handmade silk balls which mothers make for their daughters to play with. Traditionally it is said that the balls bring good fortune and happiness to the recipient. This sentiment makes Temeri cakes the perfect favour for a wedding. Again, so you have something to cut you may wish to ask your baker to create a larger version of a Temeri cake or have a traditional cake for the top layer.
Can’t decide on which delicious goodie to go for? Why not opt for a dessert table instead? Have a combination of all of the above treats so that they all match and then let your guests choose which they would like. Dessert tables can look really spectacular when they have your colour scheme running throughout, combined with pretty little signs and accessories to match. For a real wow factor you could have a traditional cake as the centre piece on the table (or a croquembouche, macaroon tower or cupcake tower) then have other items such as cake pops, macaroons, cup cakes and Temari cakes displayed around it. This not only looks amazing but is great if you have a high number of guests and your wedding cake just isn’t big enough for everyone to have a slice, or alternatively it gives guests something to nibble on as well as being able to take a piece of cake home with them.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to your wedding cake- it’s a very personal choice which comes down to taste and style and there are lots of options are available to you if a traditional wedding cake just isn’t what you want. We just can’t decide which our favourite is!