British Wedding Cakes

Appears in
Oxford Companion to Sugar and Sweets

By Darra Goldstein

Published 2015

  • About
Rich, spicy fruitcakes were served at splendid medieval feasts, and for centuries afterward at important occasions and celebrations such as Easter, Christmas, weddings, and christenings.

The first published recipe for a cake made specifically for a wedding appeared in 1655, in The Queen’s Closet Open’d. This was “the Countess of Rutland’s receipt for making the rare Banbury cake.” It was actually enriched bread dough containing yeast, eggs, butter, dried fruits, spices, rosewater, ambergris, and musk; the dough was encased in pastry before baking. See ambergris; breads, sweet; and flower waters. The enormous cake, which weighed more than 30 pounds, was carried by an usher and shown off to the wedding guests for them to admire.