Around the World in 11 Wedding Desserts
Dig around your family roots for inspiring wedding cake ideas.
If you’re feeling the need to branch out on your wedding cake style, consider delving into your family tree for ideas on flavor, shape, even design. While the white, three-tiered wedding cake is classic all-American, when you nose around the customs of other countries around the globe, you’ll find some gorgeous creations that just may amaze your guests.
Read on for a list of the wide world of wedding desserts.
Symbolism looms large in the origin of all wedding customs and the Indonesian wedding cake, called a lapis surabaya, is no exception. At first glance, guests will be struck by just how tall and multi-layered this confection is. But there’s a reason behind this combination: it is supposed to convey the hope for the couple as they “climb” the ladder to a successful marriage. As a result, the bride and groom always slice the cake from the bottom up as they serve pieces to their guests (which must start with the parents and grandparents of the bride and groom first).
In Chinese culture, there are sweets called “Dragon and Phoenix” cakes at wedding time. Given to the bride’s family by the groom’s when a couple decides to tie the knot, these cakes get their name because they are decorated with two symbolic animals. These cakes are filled with lotus seed, red-bean and green-bean pastes.
Piled high with cream-filled puff pastries, called profiteroles, fashioned in a tall cone-like configuration, leave it to the French to create a gourmet wedding dessert that looks as stylish as it is sweet. Called a croquembouche, the pastries are then held in place by a web of spun sugar, or hardened caramel, drizzled on the outside of the stacks and stacks of profiteroles.
Not for a novice: pastry chefs agree that the special German dessert at weddings, called baumkuchen, is one of the hardest and time-consuming cakes in the world. Known also as the “King of Cakes” or a “Tree Cake” (due to its likeness to the rings of a tree trunk), it requires actually baking on a rotating spit (it helps ensure the beautifully round tiers) before being layered and frosted. No wonder it is only ordered for once-in-a-lifetime occasions.
Fruitcakes aren’t just for Christmas in the UK. Just ask Prince William and Kate Middleton. As the preferred wedding dessert of the English (and the Royal Couple), the fruitcake is usually made of cognac-soaked dried fruits like orange peel, raisins, dates and currants and frosted with a brandy-spiked buttercream.
Custom dictates that the top tier isn’t t saved for the first anniversary. Rather it is broken out and shared at the couple’s first child’s christening. Another novel cake choice of the Brits? For a groom’s cake, consider what Prince William served: a rich chocolate ganache mixed with crushed tea biscuits.
Greece also stands out as a country where the customary American concept of a tiered wedding cake is skipped entirely. Here, a wedding is often the time to serve a special, flat, sweet flourless confection that is made of a spongy pastry flavored with fruits and syrups, and covered with almonds.
If you’re in Rome and you want to do as a Roman does, you may not even serve a cake. In some areas of Italy, there is no classic wedding cake. However, Italians may serve a mille-foglia at a wedding. This lovely confection is made of filo pastry layered with chocolate and vanilla creams and adorned with strawberries.
Another Italian favorite at matrimony is a zuppa inglese. A creamy dessert, this cake is made of layers of chocolate and vanilla creams with the added touch of rum and fruit. It’s best served in a clear footed bowl to really convey its name in translation: “English Soup.”
The truth is, this classic “Black Cake” of Jamaica can be found all around the Caribbean islands at weddings. Heavy on the alcohol, this version of a spice cake has plenty of rum and brandy-soaked raisins, currants and prunes baked into a cake made of flour, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, vanilla, lemon and almond essence and a touch of zested lime rind. Who needs a signature cocktail with this on your wedding menu?
Call it tteok, ddeok, duk, dduk, ddeog, thuck. In Korea, it all means a festive, delicious ground-rice steamed cake presented at weddings. Nuts and fruits are often added to this celebratory dessert as well as red or mung beans or red-bean paste.
This special dessert dates back more than 2,000 years and it is said there are 98 varieties to this versatile recipe. In fact, visit Korea and you can even check out an actual Tteok museum, opened in 2002 and devoted to the confection. Now that’s affection.
At traditional Norwegian weddings, the bride and groom may choose to skip cake completely and serve a tower of bread called brudlaupskling. Adorned with sweet syrup, cheese and luxurious cream, it is cut into small squares and then served to guests as the ultimate status of decadence in a country where flour was once a precious commodity.
Nearby in Sweden, you’ll find a vastly different confection served at weddings. First made in the 1930s for the royal family, the Princess Cake or Prinsesstårta, has caught on fast as a wedding cake. Made in a dome shape and covered with a green marzipan, the inside is filled with vanilla sponge cake layered with luscious raspberry jam and vanilla cream. It is also decorated with a pink marzipan rose in the center. Could there be anything sweeter?