It may be a favourite with the royals, but fruit wedding cakes are continually losing favour when compared with more widely loved sponge. Couples who do want to give a nod to tradition, have a single tier of fruit cake – but what’s the history behind this fruity alternative?
And if you’re considering a fruit cake tier, what do you need to know? Here we offer the ultimate guide to going traditional with the top tier of your wedding cake.
The history of the fruit cake
Fruit cake is considered a British tradition and hails back to the 16th century when the sugar used to sweeten the fruit and ensure its preservation first became readily available. Couples of that era loved fruit cake, as it didn’t spoil for quite some time – meaning they could get their sugar fix long after their wedding day.
You have to remember fruit wedding cakes were popular before the invention of the freezer, with cakes lasting for as long as a year if stored in the right conditions. As years went by, the recipe for fruit cake received some adaptations. Some were flavoured with alcohol to warm guests at weddings, and to show how affluent the bride’s family were.
In the modern day, having just the top tier as fruit cake is the call of the day. This fruity tier ensures a traditional touch, whatever the other layers are made from, and also caters to older wedding guests with more classic tastes.
The meaning behind the fruity top tier
Adding a fruity top tier on your wedding cake has a number of hidden meanings, each of which is as romantic as the last. Thanks to its long shelf life, the fruit top tier can be saved to mark another special occasion as The Knot details:
“Back in the 19th century, couples saved their top tier for the christening of their first child. Today, couples generally wait a longer period of time after their “I dos” before having children, so they’ll save a slice or tier of cake for their first wedding anniversary.”
Whilst in the right conditions, fruit cake can last an awful long time, an increasing number of couples are having a smaller version of their wedding cake made. This cake isn’t an exact replica but is instead made from the same recipe with the same icing and fondant. The mini wedding cake is then shared between the newlyweds to celebrate a year of marriage.
The practical bits
As we’ve mentioned a fruit cake tier can last for up to a year in the right conditions. The fruit cake must be correctly stored, as it will only be good to eat for up to one month if left at room temperature. To ensure your fruit cake stands the test of time, wrap it tightly in foil or cling film, this will stop it from drying out. The cake can then be frozen for one year, or refrigerated for six months.
If your fruit cake has spoiled, you’ll know about it. The smell and appearance will tell you all you need to know. If mould is present, the fruit cake must be discarded straightaway.
Please note, the aforementioned conditions are perfect for traditionally made fruit cake. Fruit cake with mousse or fresh fruit fillings will have a much shorter shelf life.