If you haven’t heard yet, there’s a special royal wedding coming up. Although guest typically eat a variety of dishes during a royal wedding, the dessert tends to stay the same.
In a world where cupcakes and donuts are the trendy desserts to serve at weddings, the royal family keeps it traditional. So traditional that the typical wedding cake flavor dates back to the Middle Ages. And no, that’s not a joke.
So what is this ancient cake flavor, anyway? Why, it’s fruitcake.
That’s right — fruitcake has been a royal tradition dating all the way back to the Middle Ages. According to an article published in Vogue, fruitcake was typically served for festivities such as holidays, weddings, and christenings.
What’s so special about fruitcake?
It kind of has to do with refrigerators, which weren’t a hot commodity during the Middle Ages (given that they didn’t exist at the time). Since fruitcake is traditionally made with rum liquor or brandy (like this lovely white fruitcake), the alcohol works as a natural preservative for the cake. The fruit within the cake will work as sentries, which means they will grab water molecules that might otherwise escape by evaporation. This keeps the cake nice and moist, while also helping it not to spoil for long periods of time.
Along with holding moisture and helping with preserving the cake, the fruit also helps with the overall flavor. Letting a fruitcake sit means letting the tannins inside the fruit leak out and give the cake an even richer taste.
So why do the royals serve it?
Fruitcake has been a part of royal family celebrations for centuries. The royal family tends to stick to family and cultural traditions (even though Prince Harry and Meghan Markle broke tradition by choosing lemon elderflower cake instead), which is a major reason as to why fruitcake is still served at royal weddings. Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip served fruitcake at their wedding, along with Prince William and Kate Middleton, Prince Charles and Princess Diana, Prince Andrew and Sarah Ferguson, and even Queen Victoria.
But the beauty of using a fruitcake for the royal wedding is having more time to work on decorations, as well. In an interview with Town & Country, the baker behind Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding cake shared that it took their team several days to decorate the cake — the actual cake was baked in March, giving the cake two months to mature, and plenty of time to work on the intricate design.
Once the cake is ready and the wedding approaches, the top tiers of the cake are actually saved and preserved. When it comes to serving the cake, some royals don’t even dole it out during the wedding reception, either. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge actually served their cake the morning of the wedding before any festivities started, which, in our opinion, is the perfect way to start a special day such as that.