After I got engaged, one of the first questions I was asked was “Are you going to have historic wedding cake?”
No. I was not. Why? Because historic wedding cake is disgusting.
Ok, maybe that’s not fair to say. It’s just not to MY taste. Our actual wedding cake was a spice cake with pecan, salt and dulce de leche filling and cream cheese frosting, baked from scratch by my mother, an award winning baker. That’s my kind of cake.
But I did decide it would be a sweet and meaningful wedding “favor” to send everyone home with a slice of 19th century wedding cake.
I didn’t end up using the wedding cake recipe that inspired the name of this blog; I followed the recipe for “Ohio Wedding Cake” from Buckeye Cookery, published in 1877. Since my husband and I both grew up in Ohio, and that’s where we got married, it was eerily appropriate. Additionally, it used almost the exact same ingredients and proportions as Lydia maria Child’s 1830s recipe, but gave better instructions. They were more clear, and revealed some of the specifics of 19th century baking any good Victorian housewife would have known, but I did not.
This was a quick recipe to put together; I baked and frosted three recipes (three large sheet pans) in a day. I used mixed fruits from King Arthur Flour as well as raisins, brandy, red wine, nutmeg, cinnamon, mace and cloves to flavor the recipe. It was baked at 350 degrees for about an hour. It would have had a meringue frosting, but egg based frostings are not durable in the summer heat. I made a glaze from powdered sugar and water instead.
I wrapped little rectangles of cake in self-sealing bags, with a copy of the recipe behind it. The cake was a huge hit. My mom loved it. Most people liked it. And those that didn’t, appreciated the experience. And although the cake was of the dense and heavy fruitcake variety, it was actually better than I expected.
For more on the history of the wedding cake, check out this fantastic Gastronomica article “Wedding Cake: A Slice of History.”