Making a Wedding Cake With a Recipe From 1769

In the spirit of his own upcoming nuptials, Max Miller of Tasting History decided to celebrate by making a wedding cake from 1769. The recipe came from a book by Elizabeth Raffald entitled “The Experienced English Housekeeper”. The recipe required an incredible amount of ingredients such as four pounds of flour, four pounds of butter, and two pounds of sugar, among many other items. The cake is meant to feed 100 people, so perhaps the amounts aren’t too surprising. While the cake was baking, he spoke about the history of wedding cake and how royal icing came to be named.

In 1840 Queen Victoria and Prince Albert had “a great beast of a plum-cake… It weighed 300 pounds, was three yards in circumference and fourteen inches in depth. On the top was a device of Britannia blessing the bride and bride groom, who are dressed, somewhat incongruously, in the costume of ancient Rome. At the foot of the bridegroom was the figure of a dog intended to denote fidelity, at the feet of the Queen a pair  of turtle doves.” The cake featured a simple white icing which had been around for many years but since it was featured on Queen Victoria’s cake  it was dubbed royal icing, and is still used today  to decorate sugar cookies.

All in all, Miller found the cake to be moist but it didn’t convey a wedding to him.

It’s actually moister than I expected. It’s  not too dry though it is very crumbly so it’s kind of like this odd combination of dry and moist, but the flavors are fantastic. I’m getting a little bit of orange from the orange  peel and those spices, but currants kind of carry the day. I mean there are a ton of them in there,  but those other flavors do come through. It’s   it’s not as Christmassy as I had expected….You don’t want Christmas, you want wedding cake. Is this a wedding cake? I mean- technically but if I went to a wedding and got this I wouldn’t be thrilled.

Here’s Miller’s actual wedding cake. Mazel Tov Max and Jose!