STYLE

Vintage Wedding Cakes: How To Make Yours Authentic

14/08/2014 16:38 | Updated 22 May 2015

If you're looking for a cake that wouldn't have looked out of place on your grandma's big day, forget the generic retro birdcages and take note. Victoria Joy speaks to baking experts to find out the trends you should be following for a real vintage wedding centrepiece

The term "vintage" is thrown about more than any other in the wedding industry, especially when it comes to cakes. In the past five years, there's been a surge in the number of vintage-inspired weddings, but what if you want to go one better than bunting, teacups and jam jars?

The key is to look beyond today's so-called era-gone-by trends and take inspiration directly from wedding cakes of the past. May Clee-Cladman, the owner of couture bakery Maisie Fantaisie, argues vintage doesn't mean twee – it's about settling on a cake design your grandmother would have happily chosen.

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While lots of present-day cakes (even those at retro weddings) have three or four stacked tiers, most brides between the 1950s and 1980s chose to display their cake layers individually, connected by columns, to give extra height. When Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier III in 1954, they wowed with a six-tier column cake that stood taller than the groom.

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Still in love with your floral hair garland from Glastonbury '13? Flowers really are a vintage favourite. According to Langs of London's Charlotte Green, up until the 70s flowers were symbolic wedding choices and roses and orange blossom were top of the list because they're known to promote love, marriage and fertility.

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You can add sugarcraft versions to your design but displaying fresh flowers between every tier is more authentic.

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Lace is a big trend – insert obligatory reference to Kate Middleton's wedding dress here – but to really nail it the vintage way, May explains the key is to find a classic design from your chosen era, then recreate its intricacy with a sugar motif.

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Some brides choose to add actual pieces of lace to their cake, but it's more faithful to work the lace you love into the cake's decoration, on every tier or just small sections.

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After food rationing ended in 1947 and bakers got their supplies reinstated, wedding cake decorations became seriously badass. Forget the smooth, chic fondant icing of today - mountainous piles of frosting and royal icing was where it was at. Charlotte White from Restoration Cake nods to this tradition by adding ruffle trims, shell bordering and pearl details to her modern designs.

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If you're after celebrity inspiration, look no further than Jackie Kennedy, whose wedding cake frosting was begging to give her guests Type 2 diabetes.

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Forget sponge flavoured with pistachio, rosewater and anything else your mum used to scent her potpourri with – wedding cakes of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were almost exclusively made of fruit cake. Following the boom period of the 1950s, only the best muscovado sugar, fine quality fruits and premium liquors were used to bake a seriously tasty mouthful, and any true vintage fan should do the same.

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Charlotte Green suggests making it three months in advance of your wedding so you've got plenty of time to soak it in brandy – and this Mary Berry recipe is perfect.

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