A slice of 40-year-old cake from Princess Diana’s wedding to Prince Charles recently sold at auction for $2,600, which is amazing, considering it was fruitcake. I’m completely shocked because I wouldn’t give you a buck-fifty for a truckload of fruitcakes. My raisin phobia runs deep.
Grandmother wasn’t sure about my choice of husband from New Jersey, until he told her how much he loved her fruitcake. After that, he was her favorite — even ahead of me. The two of them would eat fruitcake every Christmas with their heads close together, whispering about the cake like it was their secret club ritual.
In November, she’d tell him, “I need a little bit of . . . you know, for the fruitcake.” Making the forbidden purchase out of town for her, so as not to raise eyebrows, the hooch would appear, and the Baptist baking would begin.
To us, serving fruitcake at a wedding is nuttier than a. . . . well, you get it. But as the British are fond of following spectacular customs involving coronations, crowns and carriages, it’s a traditional thing for them to souse up the cake and load it with dried shriveled fruit. It’s a sign of good luck. I guess Charles and Diana were a pound low on plums.
Wedding cake trends come and go, and my cake in the 1990’s was topped with fresh flowers, although now I wish I would have borrowed my parent’s little 1950’s bride and groom. They were the classic tiny couple who stood beneath an arch of silk flowers and would have lent an air of nostalgia and family connection.
I can’t criticize today’s wedding cakes too much because I have a son who is planning a wedding and don’t want to seem like I’m meddling (me? never!). Today’s cake trends include vines swirling down the layers, cookies stuck to the sides, and skinny Dr. Seuss confections.
The “naked cake” trend looks like the dog licked the icing off the side. And if you like little icing roses, you’re out of luck. Those are the current fuddy-duddies of the baking world.
There’s also the trend of giving each guest a small individual cake, but isn’t that just a cupcake?
The hand painted designs on some wedding cakes are stunning but the main question is, does it taste good? Buttery, fluffy, spongy and sweet are important qualities. No one around here is expecting firewater flavor loaded with dried apricots. That’s for the royals.
I followed an old-fashioned custom and gave all the single ladies at my wedding a slice of cake to take home in a decorated wax-lined bag. Tradition stated that if she placed the cake beneath her pillow that night, she’d dream of the man she would marry. She also woke up with icing in her hair — or if she was smart, a midnight snack.
But 40 year old cake? As much as I adored Princess Diana, I just don’t think I’d be interested in having her dusty old fruitcake sit around the house. What about her dress? Oh, yes! I’d dearly love that. But then again, who wouldn’t want to swish around the house dragging a 25 foot train? That makes perfect sense.
This story first appeared in AL.com newspapers