Wedding Cakes Research Proposal

Pages: 6 (1702 words)  ·  Style: MLA  ·  Bibliography Sources: 7  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Family and Marriage

Wedding Cakes

Weddings cakes have evolved over time and this is true particularly as related to cultural traditions, famous cake designers and decorating techniques.

The History of Wedding Cakes

The first wedding cakes (Ancient Rome)

The origination of the wedding cake is generally accepted to have been in the Roman tradition. Each guest at the wedding brought a small cake to the wedding. The cakes were then stacked on the table "in levels and layers." (Caplan, 1997) if the bride and groom could manage to kiss over the top of the levels of wedding cakes then it was said to be good luck.

Medieval England

It is generally agreed upon that the wedding cake originated in ancient Rome however, Mrs. Elizabeth Raffald the housekeeper, "in an aristocratic household in Cheshire, in 1763 is accredited with having published the first wedding cake recipe. The work of Patricia Caplan entitled: "Food, Health and Identity" states that Raffald "married the head gardener moved to Manchester and set up a confectioner's shop in Market Place." (1997)

In 1769 Raffald published the work entitled: "The Experienced English Housekeeper" which contained instructions 'How to make a Bride Cake'."(Caplan, 1997) This was "an explicit exercise in product differentiation: a rich fruit cake, original in including a large quantity of candied citrus fruits arranged in layers..." (Caplan, 1997)

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This cake's icing was further differentiated as Raffald instructs the reader "to put on a layer of almond icing and then to cover this with a layer of ordinary white icing." (Caplan, 1997) Caplan states that this is the nearest "the wedding cake came to being an invention rather than a gradual construction." (1997) it is related by Caplan (1997) that Mrs. Raffald "provides a pragmatic starting point for a process which really did not have one." (1997)

Research Proposal on Wedding Cakes Assignment

Caplan states that the contribution of Mrs. Raffald "represents a moment only in the building together of a series of elements which were themselves products of experimentation over a period of centuries. The oldest was some kind of bread, or cake appearing in marriage festivities; then it was the sue of a rich, spiced, dried-fruit mixture; then that it should be iced, eventually Using Elizabeth Raffald's double-icing; then that cakes of declining size should be piled up and combined into a single cake; then that its decoration should be icing piped in a characteristic style...finally that the tiers should be separated by pillars and should match." (Caplan, 1997)


19th Century

It was late in the 19th century that "the shape of royal cakes began to be taken up for the commercial product by piling cakes of declining size one on another." (Caplan, 1997) the standard form of decoration at this time was "piped white 'royal' icing." (Caplan, 1997)


Present Day

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the commercial cake "achieved a distinctly architectural appearance by raising the tiers on pillars. Looked at it retrospectively it can be seen that each new successful development was locked into place by subsequent developments. Once pillars separated the tiers, the style of decoration treating each tier as a miniature of the one below it helped fix the separation of tiers." (Caplan, 1997) This, states Caplan (1997) was "the Edwardian form, the classic British wedding cake which was to last through most of the rest of the century." (1997) This cake form was copied throughout the world as was the white wedding dress..." (Caplan, 1997)

II. Cultural Customs and Traditions

International Customs

The work of Charlsey (nd) states that each wedding cake that is made "has therefore to be understood of representing past cultural creativity as the material for future creation." From a contemporary respective, Charlsey states that the wedding cake appears "as a single, timeless 'thing' within the taken-for-granted repertoire of a particular culture, yet it is the product of a complex, contingent and continuing history." (nd)

Charlsey states that the part that the wedding cake plays "in a major rite of contemporary life is known to all; yet rationales of any kind are rare. It makes sense to all involved with it; yet whether it has meaning of any kind of commonly doubted." (nd) While the wedding cake might have been considered food even so it is not eaten for the nutritional value or even for the enjoyment of eating and while the wedding cake is "expensive, but not a luxury; indeed it is a practical necessity for most of the three-quarters of a million people, in Britain alone, who get married each year." (Charlsey, nd)

In the Scottish wedding tradition, the wedding cake has edible ornaments referred to as 'favours'. The top decoration and the favors are removed from the cake and distributed by the bride and bridesmaids to the women guests.

American Customs

The American culture in regards to the wedding cake is much like the British custom in that the wedding cake is actually a prop for the wedding part. For example, the work of Charlsey states that the standard series of photographs includes 'the cutting of the cake'. This is taken after the ceremony and just before the couple and their supporters are released by the photographer to begin the reception." (nd) the cake is set up on a table and the couple given a large knife, generally one with a silver handle. The bride and groom both hold the knife with its blade "resting on the icing of the bottom tier. Both look at the camera; they do not cut." (Charlsey, nd) Only after this ritual does the actual cutting of the cake occur. The bottom tier is taken away to be cut and "reappears in tiny portions for consumption by the company.

II. Famous Cake Designers

A. International Cake Designers

1. David MacCarfrae

2. Yvonne Zensner

B. American Cake Designers

1. Duff Goldman

The work of Jennifer LaFleur (2008) entitled: "Musician-handyman-baker Duff Goldman Doesn't' Do Mundane Cakes" states that were Bob Vila, Dr. Seuss and bass guitarist Flea" to open a bakery together, "it might be something like Charm City Cakes." (LaFleur, 2008) the Baltimore Cakery, is owned by Duff Goldman reported to have "become an icon in the baking world since it opened its door to the Food Network's reality show Ace of Cakes in 2006." (La Fleur, 2008)

Goldman was trained as a pastry chef at the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley and later worked for the French Laundry restaurant in Napa. He was also the executive pastry chef at the Vail Cascade Resort & Spa in Colorado. Goldman baked bread for Todd English's Olives in Washington D.C. As well. However, it was the cake business which Goldman began in his home kitchen that he is famous for and this is likely because his primary "cake making implements" include "a drill press and arc welder." (LaFleur, 2008)

2. Colette Peters

Colette Peters owns Colette's Cakes a specialty cake company in New York City and has been in business since 1989. Colette has been making cakes since she was eight years of age and living in Chicago. Colette has designed cakes for individuals including celebrities worldwide including Bette Midler, Elann Wenner, and others.

Colette created a cake honoring the Renwick Museum in 1996 for the 150th Anniversary Celebration for the Smithsonian Institute located in Washington DC. Colette's cakes include those for the Christmas window display for Tiffany and Company in New York City for the years of 1997 and 1999. Colette also designed the 'sugar scenes' for the Red Room, Green Room and the Grand Foyer of the White House in 2000 at the request of First Lady Hillary Clinton.

IV. Decorating Techniques

A. Icing

The work of Patricia Caplan relates that the classic wedding cake was white which stood for purity and states that this association is of an ancient nature. Therefore, " icing developed, achieving the purest white possible was an unquestioned goal. The better the quality of sugar used the whiter the product would be. Whiter therefore meant higher quality and greater expense." (1997) Differentiation took place in the latter part of the eighteenth century in terms of the kinds and shapes of cake? And there was a great deal of excitement due to coloring for icing developing. Caplan states "Edinburg appears to have been a notable source for this development." (1997)

Caplan states that confectionary "had its part to play" as the confectioners of the nineteenth century "took up the coloring and decoration of cakes with particular enthusiasm..." (1997) in Edinburgh the decision was made that icing should be pink on the Scottish bride pie because "with the pink icing went a wider and more romantic vocabulary of ornament than any other yet noted..." (Caplan, 1997) Included in these specific decorations were "Cupids and turtle doves" as well as "torches, flames, darts and other emblematic devices of this kind." (Caplan, 1997)

B. Decorations

Decorations on cakes begin "in the context of another major celebration cake already established there" specifically 'the Twelfth cake." These were baked for the end of… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Wedding Cakes" Research Proposal in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Wedding Cakes.  (2009, February 16).  Retrieved August 12, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Wedding Cakes."  16 February 2009.  Web.  12 August 2020. <>.

Chicago Style

"Wedding Cakes."  February 16, 2009.  Accessed August 12, 2020.