The height of wedding season may be coming to a close but plenty of people across the country will be savoring sweet memories of their special day for years to come.
The sweetest memory at most weddings is usually the classic cake that comes at the end of the feast. But how did the tradition of serving something sugary become synonymous with celebrating lifelong love?
Early historic records of unions explain that pieces of grain were thrown at weddings to inspire fertility in the newlywed couple. As time passed, the art of throwing grain was transformed by Ancient Romans into baking those grains into bread and eventually, in 100 B.C., into small, sweet cakes.
When the Romans began to invade Europe, they took this sweet cake tradition with them and other Europeans began the custom of piling these sweet pieces of bread-- biscuits, scones and other baked goodies-- on top of one another in a huge heap. For the Brits, the taller the pile, the more prosperous the young couple's future would be.
In the 1660s, France’s King Charles II traveled to London and decided to formalize what he perceived to be a ridiculous slap-dash mound of miniature cakes. During his reign, he took the initiative to establish the now modern wedding tradition of the formal, iced, multi-tiered wedding cake.
Today, even for those without a serious sweet tooth, wedding cakes are usually considered a must any wedding. Still, some people can’t (or don’t want to) eat gluten. And others just want something really unique on their special day.
Enter the cheese cake.
No, we’re not talking about any creamy, sweet Cheesecake Factory confection. Some couples today are opting for fanciful, multi-tiered cakes made out of real gourmet cheeses such as chevre, gouda, and a host of savory charcuterie board staples.
“We use any and all of our cheeses for the cakes; but typically the ones that work best have good structural integrity and are crowd-pleasers,” says Carolyn Stromberg of Washington, D.C.’s bustling Righteous Cheese.
According to Stromberg, cheese cakes are “a rapidly growing trend for cutting-edge, food-loving couples who are looking to incorporate unique & distinctive wedding elements.”
At Righteous Cheese, 80 to 90 small batch, handmade cheeses from across the United States and Europe are selected by brides and grooms to make their cheese wedding cake. Besides not using any flour, or sugar, Stromberg has just two requirements in crafting her cakes: “They do need to be stackable and can’t have a low melting temperature.
Stromberg’s cakes range in price from $400 to $1500, whereas a typical sweet frosted wedding cake starts around $450—but can sharply rise to $70,000 for a cake made by celebrity wedding cake maker Sylvia Weinstock.
And while a huge, multi-tier cake made of savory cheese might sound like an extreme thing to serve at a wedding, Stromberg believes a cheese cake as almost as versatile as a traditional baked cake.
Says the cake designer, “the cheese cakes can, and often are, decorated with flowers, fruit, ribbon, and even a traditional cake topper.”
For Stromberg, and for other artisanal cheesemakers, these cheesy cakes aren’t just a fad. When her store first opened in the city’s artisanal food emporium Union Market, she created a cheese wedding cake once a month—but now she says she makes at least one a week.
Cheese-heads from Wisconsin can also attest to the enduring popularity of the cheese wedding cake.
At artisanal cheese shop Fromagination in Madison, owner Ken Monteleone has been producing cheese wedding cakes for nearly a decade. He’s even had his work featured in a 2015 edition of Martha Stewart Weddings. At Fromagination, cakes range in price from $75 to $1000.
“We are in a state known for cheese -- $44 billion dollars of Wisconsin’s economy is based upon cheese and people are always serving cheese at weddings. But everyone was just serving cubed cheese. How boring is a catering trays of cheese!?” Monteleone told FoxNews.com. “So I wanted to create something which would start a conversation.”
Says Monteleone, “We do all shapes and sizes. Some cakes of cheese are decorated elaborately and others are simple. We don’t need a center anchor. We just stack them on top of each other and can do all types of things when it comes to serving them.”
Fromagination serves its wedding cheese cakes with the usual accompaniments like biscuits, dried fruit, fresh fruits, nuts and crackers.
And if you’re a real cheese head but have to stick to a tight budget on your big day, you could consider making your very cheese cake, with the help of Bridal Musings. But proceed with caution, say the pros.
“Basically you just have to know the right temperature to serve the cheese or else it will melt,” Mr. Monteleone says, “Or you can hire a Fromagination cheesemonger to help stack and serve the cheese.”