While it might not be a the top of the list for the important decisions one will make for the their big day, one can’t deny that choosing the right wedding cake is essential to the overall wedding day success.
According to the Food Network, wedding cakes or something like them date all the way back to ancient Rome, when weddings concluded with the groom breaking a loaf of barley bread over the bride’s head, symbolizing fertility. Guests would scramble to pick up the crumbs in order to take home some of that good luck.
In medieval England, small spiced buns were organized into a huge pile, with the bride and groom expected to share a kiss over the towering bread pile. If they could kiss without knocking the tower over, the belief was that they’d enjoy a lifetime of prosperity together.
The website also states that historically, pies, not cakes, were typically associated with weddings. The earliest recorded recipe created specifically for a wedding is for Bride’s Pye, detailed in the 1685 edition of “The Accomplisht Cook,” which describes a large, elaborately decorated pie filled with an array of savory meats, offal and spices. Sometimes rings would be hidden inside these wedding pies, superstition holding that the woman who found it would be the next to marry.
By the middle of the 16th century, wedding cakes outpaced wedding pies in popularity as sugar had become widely available throughout Britain. White sugar was seen as the most prestigious, as it underwent more refinement. Pure white icing on a wedding cake was seen as a status symbol and a nod to purity. Queen Victoria’s wedding continued this tradition, which led to white icing being called Royal Icing, a term that’s still used today, according to the Food Network website.
Helping brides with this sweet wedding day decision is Tullahoma native Jessica King of The Gingham Flour Box. King, who named her business after a beloved pattern and the curtains that hung in her grandmother’s kitchen, has been baking and selling cakes for the past five years.
She recently spoke with The Tullahoma News about taking her long-time love of baking cakes with her family and making into a successful business that is helping local brides with their big day.
King said she comes from a long line of bakers.
“My grandmother made cakes, my aunts made cakes and my mother makes cakes,” she said. “However, it was just for friends and family at church. I think that I’m the only who’s taken it quite this far. I always enjoyed doing it with my aunt and grandma, but it wasn’t really until my son was born that I wanted to make a cake myself. “
She would try her hand at a class taught by Liz Carson of Uptown Delights School of Confectionery Arts.
“I took a class in town with Liz Carson, who was phenomenal,” King said. “She bragged and bragged on me. Not too long after, I made a birthday cake for my son and posted it online, and someone asked me to bake a cake, so I did. It then snowballed. My second cake was for a wedding. While I really nervous, she loved it and I then thought that maybe I could do this. It could be fun.”
Jumping into the business of cakes, baking is now a full-time job for King who bakes cakes for all occasions, but especially for weddings.
“For the last two years, I have been staying about two months booked,” she said. “I try to squeeze in as much as I can without getting too overwhelmed. My mom will come in and bake with me sometimes. She’ll come in on Tuesday and then I take it rest of the week.”
When it comes to helping brides with the cake for their big day, King said there is a mix of ideas and processes.
“There is a good mix of brides who need help choosing what kind of cake they want and those who know exactly what they want. The best compliment, of course, is when a bride brings back a picture of one of the cakes I’ve done for another wedding back to me,” she said.
When it comes to cake trends, King said the area tends to run about two years behind.
“Globally and nationally trends change all the time,” King said. According to the Knot.com, she said, this fall we will see lots of deep royal colors. However, she said, local trends typically run two years behind.
“Two years ago, the unicorn cakes were everywhere, but I hadn’t taken an order for them yet. My first order for a unicorn cake was mid-last year and now everyone is getting one. Most trends are kind of slow to get here.”
She said she tries to practice to be best prepared for what her customers want.
“There are also a lot of great tutorials online,” she said, citing Liz Merrick, Sugar Geeks. “She does a lot of really great tutorials. That's the nice thing, though, about our trends being so far behind. I can see what's out there and then I can practice for it gets big here.”
When asked if after five years of baking she gets nervous about making the perfect cake for someone’s big day, King said it’s still a daunting process.
“It is always nerve-racking process. It sounds conceited to say that the wedding cake is such a big part of the wedding,” said King. “To me it’s not and to the brides it’s not, but then again it kind of is. It’s a very big centerpiece to any reception. So, if I mess that up, it’s either going to be something they laugh about later or it’s just going to end up on that cake wreck page.”
One of King’s most nerve-wracking but memorable cakes was a grandmother’s recipe that turned into a successful cake for her granddaughter’s big day.
That cake, King said, is “one that stands out in my mind, because up until I delivered it, I wasn't sure it was going to work.”
“A sweetheart of a girl brought me her grandmother's recipe for 15-layer cake. She wanted it three or four tiers of 15 layers. Now these were pancake layers, not big at all. You had to bake them separately and just for about 10 minutes. Then you poured a sort of a fudge frosting in between each layer. Then we had to stack them and put other cakes on top of them. It was so nerve-wracking because I thought there is no way this is going to be structurally sound. But I did it. But then I thought there was no way I could get it to taste like grandmas, but she loved it.”
For more information about King and The Gingham Flour Box, find her on Facebook at The Gingham Flour Box or by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org.