Tradition has it that the bottom tier of a wedding cake is saved for the christening of the first child. That might be too much to ask of a round of Cheddar a year or two down the line.
But it hasn’t stopped a growing trend for bride and groom to order a wedding cake made of cheese instead of the traditional fruit cake for weddings, a fashion that seems to have come from nowhere since the early 2000s.
When my stepdaughter Joanne and her partner Andy held their wedding reception at St Paul’s Hotel in Sheffield recently pride of place went to a four-tier cake made entirely of cheese. The bottom layer was a beautiful blue-grey round of Cornish Yarg, wrapped in nettles, topped by a golden yellow round of Appleby’s Cheshire, then one of the French Fourme d’Ambert, a blue, and, finally, a cylinder of Chaourch, a French cheese made in Champagne-Ardennes since the Middle Ages.
It was tastefully decorated with pomegranates, dates, grapes and figs. “I like to have flowers and seasonal fruit. Cakes look gorgeous draped with redcurrants although people can have what they want. Some have wanted pink sugar mice,” says Nicky Peck, who runs the Porter Brook Deli on Sharrow Vale Road, Sheffield, who organised Joanne and Andy’s cake. She tries to discourage pink mice.
She and husband Nick only started the business last summer, after moving from Shrewsbury, but did six cheese wedding cakes last year and will be doing around one a week this year. Of course you can order cakes online or buy them from big stores but Nicky offers a bespoke service.
“We invite couples in when the shop is closed and have a cheese tasting session and give them samples. We talk to them about how they are going to use the cheese, how many guests, whether it’s part of the wedding meal or if they are going to leave it until 10pm when everyone has had a drink. You don’t want incredibly expensive cheese for that!”
Joanne is no great lover of fruit cake, which is what wedding cake is, and had planned fancy pastries with their ‘pie and peas’ supper “so we didn’t want cake followed by cake. This was a perfect cheese course,” she says. And they were still able to pose for cutting the cake pictures together.
A cheese wedding cake gives the couple something to decide on together for a groom is often left out of most of the arrangements. “We find the men are very interested in the cheeses,” laughs Nicky.
As at Joanne and Andy’s wedding, the cake becomes a talking point. People queued up to inspect it and then queued up again with relish to cut themselves portions. “The cheese wedding cake was a great success. It kept us going until past midnight and the leftovers made lovely gift bags for our guests. There was nothing left,” says Joanne.
Nicky will take the ‘cake’ to the venue, decorate it and supply the tracklements to go with the cheese but is happy to let families bring their own home made chutneys, which is what I did.
Of course, if you can’t make up your mind between traditional and cheese, you can always have both!
The Porter Brook Deli is at 354 Sharrow Vale Road, Sheffield S11 8ZP. Tel: 07528 253 978. Web: http://www.porterbrookdeli.co.uk