The Tiered Tradition
Whether it’s two tiered, three tiered or more, the traditional wedding cake has always been layers of beauty and baked goodness with a bride and groom nestled on the top. The designs of wedding cakes have been taken to stunning levels with bakers making literal art of them (including cupcakes) but one thing that’s always stayed true to tradition is the layered design.
In Medieval England “sweet rolls” were stacked as high as possible for the bride and groom to kiss over, if they successfully kissed over the stack without knocking it down, they were certain to have a very long and prosperous life together. The original version of the tiered cake originated from the myth that a French pastry chef visiting a wedding during Medieval England observed their tradition of piling the rolls. The chef then went back to France and piled sweet rolls up into a tower to make the first Croquembouche. The modern croquembouche is still very popular in France however it is common to place the tower of sweets on a bed of cake and make it one of the top tiers of the wedding cake.
Croquembouche (Photo Credit:theunexpectedculinarian.com)
The modern tiered wedding cake that we know and love now, originated at the wedding of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, in 1882 and was the first to actually be completely edible. Prince Leopold’s wedding cake was created in separate layers with very dense icing, when the icing hardened the tiers were then stacked, this method had never been used before, and it was a groundbreaking innovation for wedding cakes. Pillars between the cake tiers did not begin to appear until about 20 years later. The pillars were made from broomsticks covered in icing (inedible of course). The tiers represented prosperity and were a status symbol because only wealthy families could afford them.
Modern wedding cakes still use the lovely tier method today and that’s why your cake has tiers!