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Preserving Wedding Cakes


PCL
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Hi all.

I can't seem to understand this whole thing, but maybe y'all can help. Thanks in advance for your patience:

Apparently there is some tradition which holds that wedding cakes should be preserved for posterity. As a result of this, the top three tiers of our wedding cake has been sitting in the freezer for the last year or so, being preserved.

Now, space has finally run out and the cake has moved from my in-law's freezer, to the freezer in the garage, still at the in-law's and now, it's made it's way to our place.

We don't have space in the freezer. Sorry, but veal bones, chicken carcasses, pork belly etc etc frozen demi etc etc are simply more important than a cake.

So, in response, the spousal unit decides that because the cake is packed with sugar, and encased in icing, it can sit indefinitely on top of the bookshelf.

I'm not so sure.

I'm confused.

I could Google it, but I thought the Gullet would be better.

For the record, it was a great wedding, i'm very happy, and I loved the cake when i ate some of it, but hey, i think this is too much...

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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My mother has had a SLICE of her wedding cake (dried out) for about 37 years now. I will ask her if she dried it in any particuler manner. My thought would be maybe a 200 degree F oven for a few hours, for an entire cake I do not know maybe break out a can oof shelac or varnish. :biggrin:

edit: sig; coffee cigs and "hair of the dog" the true breakfast of champions :laugh:

Edited by M.X.Hassett (log)
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Well I made a copy of a caterpillar cake that I loved and I have kept his little head for months & months--I thought sure the annual march of army ants through my house would zero in on him & prompt his immediate departure from the premises but no he's still sitting on the shelf. His eyelashes have drooped a bit, but he is altogether adorable. He is fondant covered.

But I would not put iced cake in a 200 degree oven to dry. M.X., I'm thinking you were refering to just the cake part. Your Mom is adorable.

On the shelf cake does preserve itself to a point--just keep an eye out for discoloration, and/or bugs--it will get dusty and need to be discarded someday. But it really can last quite a while. If it makes someone happy why not. Then again you could put it in the oven as was suggested... :wink:

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I thought the tradition was to save the very top layer, and eat it on your first anniversary.

From Wedding Basics

"Another wedding cake tradition is to have the top layer of the cake made out of fruit cake. This layer is saved and frozen for the bride and groom to eat on their first anniversary. Many couples do this, but it really doesn't taste very good a year later. Oh well - it's tradition!"

Perhaps if it was real old fashioned fruitcake, which is supposed to be aged, it would taste good a year later, and wouldn't even have to be frozen.

I think freezing 3 layers indefinitely is a bit over the top. Go for 200 degree oven, say you read it on this great website, and when it melts down, blame us. Might even set that oven at 300, and claim you misread the instruction.

sparrowgrass
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Is the idea to preserve the cake as long as possible, or to preserve it as long as possible and still have it edible?

Also, what was the cake originally made from (as this can vary quite a bit, I'm sure)?

If wanting to eat it:

First, is it that very rich Australian fruit cake? If so (hides head in shame here), I've actually kept a cake at room temperature (un-iced) wrapped loosely in foil and sliced bits off and eaten them for about six months with no ill effects whatsoever. (I was making my mother's Christmas fruit cake recipe, and when my husband saw how much butter went into one cake, he refused to eat any :hmmm: . Well, it did make it last longer.)

I figured that this was the type of the cake that people used to send by ship from England to relatives in India and other 'exotic locales', and so it would be fairly robust, able to tolerate high temperatures, etc.

I found out that it was even more robust than I thought when I found out that my younger brother had been doing the same thing, but that his cake was kept for room temperature for over a year.

So, if it's the same type of cake, and you want to eat it at some later point, then I'd say you're safe keeping it on the shelf for at least a year, probably longer.

I can't often any suggestions about preserving it. M. X.'s mother's cake is pretty amazing. In fact, that story takes the cake. (Sorry, but I couldn't resist).

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I, too, am curious as to what type of cake it is. Fruit cakes may not last forever but they don't dry out very much.

My grandmother married in 1904. When she had to move into a smaller place in 1953, I found a piece of her wedding fruitcake in the attic. It was well wrapped but still slightly soft.

49 year old fruitcake doesn't taste very good even if it isn't completely dry.:biggrin:

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I'd dump it in the garbage. Leave on the shelf and it will attract all kind of insects. Plus, if it's been sitting in the freezer for a year, you know it will taste like the inside of a freezer so you won't eat it.

If you're afraid your marriage will collapse because you throw it in the garbage, you've got other things to worry about! A piece of cake won't save it! :biggrin:

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Time to find an occasion to bring it out - anniversary, baby?, something, anything and invite friends and relatives - have a good meal, serve the cake as a renewal of wedding day memories.

If you really need to, just save a slice until the inevitable day when the freezer fails and all is lost to the thaw.

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Mom says she left it on a window sill to dry out then wrapped it in parchment, the iceing cracked cake stayed in pretty good shape(she had no intention of ever eating it). Later she wrapped it in plastic wrap about, 20 years ago. She said last time she looked at it 5 years ago it looked pretty good, slight discolaration, slight green on small part of icing, very powdery, she currently keeps it in a safe. I have never seen it though I will definetly investigate next time I visit. With the 200 degree oven suggestion, I am not a baker(to much precision measuring):rolleyes: nor a food preservationist so it was just off the top of my head, food dehydrater might work although you would need a pretty big one for the whole cake

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I kept one layer of mine, in the freezer, for our first anniversary. We forgot about it, so didn't eat it until six months after that....it wasn't that great. I looked at it this way...it was a cute thing to do, but really, when all was said and done, I doubt I would bother again. I kept the dress, I kept the tiara, I kept the leaves and greens off the bouquet and I have the cake topper. I have pictures. I have an amazing wonderful husband. Life is good. I don't need a dried out, dessicated cake hogging room in my freezer for the rest of my life. I can use that space for things I really want to eat. Like pie. If you feel duty bound, dry out a slice - some people are really sentimental that way and more power to them. Me, I'd rather gaze at my husband and cherish the memories. Have a little party to celebrate your union. Serve the cake and remember the happiness of the day, watch your wedding video, look at the pictures. Then carry on and make more great memories and share other happy days. And fill the space in the freezer with pie :smile:

Don't try to win over the haters. You're not the jackass whisperer."

Scott Stratten

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Ah well, in the case of my first wedding, the cake turned out to be more robust than my spouse, who died of a heart attack...sorry, that's in really poor taste, what I meant to say was that the marriage is the thing, not the bouquet or the cake, when it comes down to it!

Properly made and stored fruit cake IS a preserve. I've made, stored, and eaten many. Bake, dress with alcohol over a period of time, and store well wrapped, and it will keep indefinitely.

However, the icing is not so robust, so an iced cake will not keep as well. If you plan ahead to store the top tier, keep it plain and use a removable topper or fresh flowers etc. I believe that using almond paste under the royal icing will stop the icing from discoloring for a good long while, and also keep the cake moist. As somebody said, it's not necessary to keep it for ever - the tradition in NZ is to serve the top tier of the wedding cake as the baptismal cake for the firstborn child...and for these purposes, the original icing and almond paste are removed and applied fresh.

To store an uniced fruit cake, my mother and grandmother would wrap the cake in stout foil (so that it will stand up to being unwrapped, doused in brandy, and wrapped again many times), often two layers, then in several layers of newspaper and finally a plastic bag. In other words, closely wrapped and protected against sudden changes in temperature and humidity. They kept cakes under the bed in the spare room...for similar reasons, I imagine.

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I am much relieved that what the esteemed spousal unit is proposing to do isn't too far removed from reality.

A word of thanks must be extended to all of you who have seen fit to participate in this little discussion.

To summarise, it appears that the cake can sit on the shelf for a while, until it turns green or some sympathetic rodent decides to high tail it back to the burrow for communal consumption.

But to maybe ellicit more discussion, the cake in question was/is an orange butter sponge syrup thing. Firm. The tiers, were one cake one expanded foam etc. We're currently left with the top three tiers, of which one is definitely cake. A quick inspection this morning suggests that after a week on the shelf, all appears normal. Stress on the 'appears' for I dared not touch the thing.

Thanks also for the information on tradition etc. Our first anniversary was actually over 5 years ago. The wedding cake was for the 'reception' we had last year because we didn't actually have any family members present at our 'original' wedding.

The idea of re-glazing the cake is also appealing. Maybe I shouild surreptitiously replace the cake tier with another round of identically sized expanded foam, glaze/ice that and leave the thing on the shelf.

Maybe I should take monthly photographs and post them here so we can all chart the progress of the cake over time.

I'm kind of excited.

That's kind of weird.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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PCL, since no one has answered the title ? of the thread, I will. Yet mind you I am not married and do not plan to be for a while, but I do not think that you are crazy or silly I would vote for neither. I still have easter bunnies from when I was 5 or so. :blush:

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I heard of the tradition of saving the top layer for the anniversary, and even though I saw several top tiers brought in for the anniversary dinners at the inn I used to work at, and they were yucky looking and tasting, the couples did take a bite and enjoyed the silliness and romantic notion of it all, so We're going to do the same thing in October with ours. It's been sitting quadruple wrapped in plastic in the back of my 0 degree freezer all this time, and we aren't expecting it to be fabulous, but the thought is what counts! and we are still together! :biggrin:

It's not the destination, but the journey!
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Matthew, you are too kind.

Any good ideas on how to best identify which tiers of what I have left are cake and which are expanded polyethelene??

I'm thinking of using a fiber optic borescope inserted into a minor diameter core hole made using a tungsten carbide tip.

Last night, I rapped the icing with my knuckles and could not detect any druminess or signs of delamination from the substrate.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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When I was married the staff that cut our cake offered to set the top layer aside so we could freeze it. They were quite surprised when I answered "no", and set it to the side anyway. Turned out to be plenty of cake for everyone so the top layer was left over. We took it home...and brought it in to work two days later to share with everyone there (we worked for the same company at the time). I have the recipe for the cake and frosting (sour cream/poppyseed cake with cream cheese frosting from the Greyston Bakery Cookbook) and make up a new batch each year for our anniversary. Not a pretty as the original, but it tastes wonderful and reminds both of us of our wedding day. I never quite understood the reasoning behind saving the cake, aside from having a memento of some kind.

I would love to see photos of the preserved cake as it ages, though. Science in all its forms is fascinating.

Kathy

Cooking is like love. It should be entered into with abandon or not at all. - Harriet Van Horne

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  • 3 weeks later...

Hi Kathy, thanks for chiming in.

Your story is a fine one, I mean, like, re-baking the cake each year.

And seeing as I've just acquired a spanking new digicam, the photos will be forthcoming once I figure the damn thing out.

"Coffee and cigarettes... the breakfast of champions!"

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I thought the tradition was to save the very top layer, and eat it on your first anniversary. 

From Wedding Basics

"Another wedding cake tradition is to have the top layer of the cake made out of fruit cake. This layer is saved and frozen for the bride and groom to eat on their first anniversary. Many couples do this, but it really doesn't taste very good a year later. Oh well - it's tradition!"

Perhaps if it was real old fashioned fruitcake, which is supposed to be aged, it would taste good a year later, and wouldn't even have to be frozen.

I think freezing 3 layers indefinitely is a bit over the top.  Go for 200 degree oven, say you read it on this great website, and when it melts down, blame us.  Might even set that oven at 300, and claim you misread the instruction.

This tradition is Brit, and an English wedding cake had nothing to do with dolce de leche buttercream layered cake--it was, and often still is a three layer, hundred pound excellent fruitcake. It id frosted with a dense layer of marzipan and royal icing, which acts as almond flavored duct tape.

Canadians, Australians and such have continued this tradition until very recently. I happen to adore a good fruitcake, and the two layers I schlepped from Montreal to Chicago kept for at least two years, unrefridgerated for three years, with only the occasional rubbling with booze. That cake kept us alove when we were dirt poor for a long, long time.

I don't think the modern American wedding cake was ever meant to be preserved until the first anniversary or christening. It's all about the traditional fruitcake. And yes, my American inlaws's eyes rolled to the back of their heads when they were served a piece of wedding fruitcake.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Interesting topic...since yesterday was my 4th anniversary...My reception wasnt untill a week after the wedding and all things considered thinking back to this date 4 yrs ago all went well....except the reception didnt include "my" cake...my baker was stuck in Vegas...mumsie found me a replacement cake from someone that cancelled their reception...it wasnt very good i think we ate it all though. For our 5th I am going to order a scaled down version of the original design and throw a party.

tracey

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Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

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