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Save the Cake!! Why you save the top tier of your wedding cake, and how to do it.

September 6, 2016

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Frozen, year-old wedding cake is delicious!  Said no one ever.  What’s up with us taking valuable real estate in our freezer for a full year, just so we can eat old cake on our anniversary?

It has been a long standing tradition for couples to save the top tier of their wedding cake dating back to the late 19th century.  It was tradition for families to make large decorative cakes for the christening of their first child.  The first child was assumed to be born within the first year of marriage.  With wedding cakes becoming increasingly more elaborate, the christening cake started to take a back seat.  When three tier cakes became popular there was usually the top tier left over.  Couples would then save the top tier to celebrate the christening of their first child.  As time went on, and the birth of the first child happened further and further from the wedding date, the two events became disassociated.  The tradition now is to eat the top tier of your wedding cake on your one year anniversary for good luck in your marriage.

This may seem easy enough, and a great tradition, however there is a caveat.  The wedding cakes that were popular in the 19th century, when this tradition started, were typically very dense fruit cakes full of bourbon and wine.  As the year went on the fruit and the bourbon continued to ferment and the cake was probably still pretty palatable.

If you are a sucker for tradition and would like to freeze the top tier of your wedding cake, flour, sugar, and all, here are the instructions on how to do it:

Freezing the Cake:

  • Put cake in freezer uncovered until firm
  • Remove from freezer and wrap cake twice with plastic wrap
  • Put cake in cake box and seal corners and edges with tape
  • Cover the entire box with aluminum foil and store in the freezer

Defrosting the Cake:

  • Remove cake from box and remove plastic wrap from cake
  • Take a new sheet of plastic wrap and lay it loosely over the cake so the moisture from defrosting will cling to the plastic wrap.  This prevents the cake from getting soggy.
  • Cake can be unthawed in the refrigerator or at room temperature.

Another, more modern day option would be to contact your baker and have them recreate a fresh version of your wedding cake.  If you are planning on going this route, make sure you talk to your baker upon booking so they are aware and can include it with your pricing.

If you are curious or love fruit cake here is a recipe, scaled down to a manageable size, of traditional wedding cake.

Mrs. Dyer’s Wedding Cake

Recipe adapted from Mrs. Jewett P. Cain’s Recipe book 1862-1872, Winterthur archives


3 eggs

2/3 cups (4 oz) flour

1 stick (1/4 lb) butter, softened

1/2 cup (4 oz) sugar

6 oz raisins

6 oz currants

4 oz citron (candied lemon peel would work as well)

1/4 oz cinnamon (scale down to taste 2tsp is recommended)

1/4 oz nutmeg  (scale down to taste 1 tsp is recommended)

1/4 tbsp cloves (insanity, two pinches is recommended)

1/4 cup buttermilk (original recipe called for sour milk, gross)

1/4 cup molasses

1 oz brandy

1 oz wine (I think it’s a white wine to add extra sweetness)


Preheat oven to 350°F, grease and flour an 8-inch round pan.

Cream together the butter and sugar until fluffy.

In a separate bowl whisk together the flour and spices.

In a large measuring cup combine the milk, brandy, and wine and set aside.

In a large bowl toss the raisins, currants, and and citron with flour, this keeps them from sinking to the bottom of the batter when added.

Add the eggs one at a time to the butter and sugar mixture, beating well between each addition.

Add the molasses and beat until thoroughly combined.

Working in three batches add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar, alternating with two batches of the milk and brandy mixture.

Mix just until no streaks of flour remain.

Add the raisins, currants, and citron and fold in carefully.

Pour into prepared pan and bake 40-50 minutes, or until the top is golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Immediately upon removing from the oven run a sharp knife around the edge to keep the raisins and citron from sticking.

Allow to cool for twenty minutes on a rack before removing from the pan. You may have to loosen the edges again and parts of the bottom as well.

Traditional frosting called for what was usually an egg white and almond mixture. However just a dusting of powdered sugar would suffice.

If left uncovered for an extended period of time, this will double as a self defense tool.  Leave exposed with caution and handle with care.

*Just a Note: Spices were not as potent back then as they are now, due to long travel time between the point of origin, so the amounts called for are alarmingly large. Feel free to cut back to your own preference.

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