The sweetest part of your wedding day: The wedding cake

The sweetest part of your wedding day: The wedding cake

The wedding cake is an essential element for a perfect wedding. A couple can choose a traditional Italian wedding cake or try new and exotic flavors.

Wedding Cake for Ravello Wedding

What is a traditional Italian wedding cake and how is it made? The classic Italian wedding cake is called millefoglie (from French mille-feuille – a thousand layers) made of puff pastry layers filled with pastry cream, for a smooth and flaky texture that melts in your mouth. Other favourites among Italian wedding cakes are sponge cakes (called Pan di Spagna) and the Bavarian cream or bavarese.

The traditional Italian wedding cake recipe is simple and delicate with custard or pastry cream filling and topped with whipped cream. It can be enriched with fresh fruit like berries or other fruits that are in season, and chocolate shavings or chopped hazelnuts. Couples who prefer to choose a less traditional cake can customize it with flavored fillings to give it a more personal touch, keep reading to find a complete list of the many flavors available.

The history of the wedding cake goes back as far as the Roman Empire. Having a wedding cake is a long tradition and there are lots of customs connected to it. Some traditions related to the wedding cake have survived through time and some have not.

History of wedding cakes: from Ancient Rome to English Royalty.

One of the first traditions began in Ancient Rome where bread was broken over the bride’s head to bring good fortune to the couple. In Medieval England, cakes were stacked as high as possible for the bride and groom to kiss over: if they successfully kissed over the stack they were guaranteed a prosperous life together. The notion of sleeping with a piece of cake underneath one’s pillow dates back as far as the 17th century and quite probably forms the basis for today’s tradition of giving cake as a “gift”. Legend says that sleepers will dream of their future spouses if a piece of the wedding cake is under their pillow.

In the 1600s they used to serve two cakes at the banquet, one for the bride and one for the groom: the groom’s cake eventually died out and the bride’s cake turned into the main cake for the event. The groom’s cake was usually made of dark chocolate to contrast with the bride’s cake which was white. The origin of this tradition is unclear. Some believe it was to be served by the groom, with a glass of wine, to the bridesmaids. Others believe it was to be saved and subsequently shared with friends after the honeymoon.

Wedding Cake for Castle Wedding

The once simple wedding cake has evolved into what today is a multitier extravaganza. The multitier wedding cake was originally reserved for English royalty. The modern wedding cake as we know it now originated at the wedding of Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany, in 1882; his wedding cake was the first to actually be completely edible.

Wedding Cake for Lake Como ReceptionBridal Cake for Castle Wedding in Tuscany

This spectacular cake with gum paste flowers was created by the renowned cake designer Renato Ardovino for a vows renewal in Ravello. The wedding palette chosen by the bride was in bright tones of fuchsia, here mixed with pale pink and a few accents in green and yellow.

There is hardly a bride today who can’t resist saving the top layer of her multitier cake. Most couples freeze the cake with the intention of sharing it on their first wedding anniversary. The tradition has its roots in the late 19th century when grand cakes were baked for baptisms. It was assumed that the baptism would occur soon after the wedding ceremony, so the two ceremonies were often linked, as were the cakes. As the time between the weddings and the baptism widened, the two events became disassociated, and the reason for saving the top tier changed.

There has always been a lot of symbolism associated with the wedding cake. One of the most obvious symbolic traditions is the cake’s white color to symbolize virginity and purity. The white color has been attached to wedding ceremonies since the Victorian Era when Queen Victoria chose to wear a white wedding dress at her wedding to Prince Albert. Queen Victoria accentuated an existing symbol since the color white is frequently associated with virginity and purity. The wedding cake was originally known as the brides’ cake therefore the color white became common because the cake needed to reflect the bride.

White Wedding Cake

Why do the bride and groom cut the cake together?

The cutting of the cake is a task full of symbolism. The cake was originally intended to be distributed among the guests by the bride only because consuming the cake would ensure fertility. As weddings grew and the number of guests increased this task became a joint venture, the groom needed to help cut the growing cake and distribute it among their guests. The groom would assist the bride in this process. Once this tradition began the bride and groom would share a piece of cake before distributing it to the guests to symbolize their union and their promise to forever provide for each other.

Nowadays one of the main moments of a wedding day is the cutting of the cake in front of all friends and family. The wedding cake will be observed by everyone as spouses cut that first slice as husband and wife and what better way than serving a gorgeous creation that looks and tastes sensational?!

Cake Cutting at Ravello Wedding

The general rule is to serve your guests a dessert that is both attractive to look at and delicious to eat! Most of your guests probably love dessert, they will be seduced by your gorgeous wedding cake so make sure that it tastes as good as it looks.

Cake Cutting at Vincigliata Castle

It is common when choosing a wedding cake to match it up with your event color theme or style.  Some couples choose the traditional tiered cake, whereas others are a little more audacious and opt for an inimitable cake or even cupcake wedding cakes which are easy to share out.

Cupcakes in the Colors of the Wedding Theme

Not only will you need to consider what style to choose for the wedding cake, but you will also need to decide on what to have as a filling taking into consideration that the cake filling and icing should all complement each other. The best way to find a delicious wedding cake flavor combination is to taste, so put together some ideas and – we are sure that if you are dessert-addicted you’ll be glad to read this – do some sampling.

Popular wedding cake flavors

Now let us help you choose your wedding cake flavor, just take a look at these possibilities:

Flavors available for Italian wedding cakes

Vanilla sponge, infused with vanilla syrup, layered with raspberry jam and vanilla buttercream.

Orange sponge, infused with orange and Grand Marnier syrup, layered with orange marmalade and orange buttercream. 

Lemon sponge, infused with lemon and Limoncello syrup, layered with lemon curd and lemon buttercream.

Vanilla Cake vanilla bean syrup, vanilla buttercream filling, and vanilla buttercream icing.

Rich dark chocolate cake, layered with Belgian chocolate ganache and Bailey’s cream liqueur.

Lemon blackberry cake Lemon syrup, lemon curd filling, fresh blackberry jam filling, and lemon curd buttercream frosting.

Raspberries and cream cake a white chocolate cake, Raspberry Eau de Vie syrup, raspberry buttercream filling, fresh raspberries, and vanilla buttercream icing.

Lemon coconut cupcake tower coconut white cake, lemon syrup, lemon curd filling, and vanilla buttercream icing.

Orange mocha cake, yellow cake made with orange zest, orange syrup, espresso ganache filling, and orange buttercream icing.

Italian rum cream and fruit cake, white cake with rum syrup, vanilla pastry cream filling, and vanilla buttercream icing.

Strawberries and Cream vanilla cake layered with whipped vanilla pastry cream and fresh strawberries.

Carrot moist carrot cake layered with cream cheese filling and apricot preserves. 

Classic chocolate mousse rich chocolate cake layered with luscious chocolate mousse.

Tiramisu light sponge cake soaked with espresso coffee and rum, filled with sweetened mascarpone cream.

Cappuccino torte vanilla chiffon cake soaked with espresso coffee and layered with cappuccino cream.

White chocolate mousse, butter sponge cake layered with white chocolate truffle, white chocolate mousse, and chocolate chips.

Chocolate and orange, chocolate sponge cake iced in a Grand Marnier chocolate ganache.

Red velvet red chocolate cake layered with chocolate cream cheese.

Devils food cake moist chocolate devils food cake layered with homemade fudge.

Vanilla rum torte vanilla cake sprinkled with spiced rum and layered with rum custard.

Chocolate hazelnut torte chocolate cake filled with Belgian Chocolate icing, hazelnut creme, and hazelnut liqueur.

Almond cream moist ground almond cake with vanilla cream and fresh raspberries.

Lemon poppy seed cake moist lemon cake with poppy seeds throughout, vanilla mousse filling.

Black forest cake devil’s food cake iced with cream cheese frosting and filled and topped with sweet red cherries.

German chocolate cake light chocolate cake topped and filled with traditional coconut and pecan frosting and fudge frosting.

In order to offer their guests taste variety, some couples have different tiers of their wedding cake created in different flavors. Having different fillings in your wedding cake is great for giving your guests a choice!

Wedding Cake for Amalfi Wedding Reception

Wedding cakes vary in price and should be ordered well in advance of your big day. Normally the cake designer would bring the cake to the venue on the day of your wedding to set it up according to your instructions. Usually, the setting is decided beforehand with the advice of the wedding planner according to the venue’s policies.

Find out more about Italian wedding cakes on our main website. There is also a section about Italian wedding traditions: these are part of Italian culture and Italians are so attached to them!

The original article published in 2012 has been updated with photos from our events, I hope you enjoy them!


Cake Cutting with Fireworks

Image Credits: Gianluca & Mary Adovasio ©, David Bastianoni ©.



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