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How to Preserve the Top Tier of Your Wedding Cake

As tradition goes, the bride and groom share a slice from the top tier of their wedding cake on their first anniversary.

But why? Well, saving the top tier of the wedding cake became fairly popular in the 19th-century, when marriage was primarily a means to an end, and that end was to increase the size of your family. Newlyweds back then would typically have their first child within the first year of marriage, and at the child’s christening, the parents would serve the top tier of their wedding cake to cut down on costs. But now that marriages are more for romance than necessity, the tradition has shifted to a way to remember your wedding day and rekindle those newlywed feelings one year later. Now, it’s a way to celebrate your big day all over again!

If you want to take part in this tradition, it’s important that you properly store and preserve your cake. It will still be stale after a year in your freezer, but poor technique can lead to a completely spoiled (and totally inedible) cake.

How to preserve the top tier of your wedding cakePhoto by Kevin Milz Photography

To preserve the top tier of your wedding cake, you should:

1. Remove all flowers and adornments.
This is primarily a rule for fresh flowers on cakes (as is the trend), but even the sugar or fondant flowers will spoil quickly. Remove them all just to be safe!

2. Chill the cake in the refrigerator.
Shortly after the wedding, place the top tier of your cake in your refrigerator to chill. This will only take a few hours, but it will harden the icing and make it easier to prepare the cake for freezing, and prevent the plastic wrap from sticking.

3. Wrap the cake in plastic wrap and place it in your freezer inside an airtight container.
After the cake is chilled, it should be simple to wrap it in several layers of plastic wrap without the icing sticking too badly. Then, put the wrapped cake in an airtight container or freezer bag, and set it in your freezer. Make sure you mark the cake with a quick label so you’ll remember what that giant lump in your freezer is!

4. Thaw the cake in the refrigerator for about 24 hours.
A day before you plan to eat the top tier of your cake, take the entire parcel from your freezer and place it directly in the refrigerator.

5. Remove the cake from its packaging, and let it sit out for a few hours.
Take the top tier out of the container or freezer bag, remove all the plastic wrap, and place it on a plate on your counter for a few hours. This will bring the cake up to room temperature, which is ideal for eating.

6. Enjoy!
Remember, the cake will still be stale — it is a year old, after all! — but if you’ve taken the steps to properly preserve it, it won’t taste too bad to share a few bites with your spouse. Note that certain types of cake — like chocolate, almond or carrot — will last longer and taste better than a white, fruit-filled or whipped cream-topped cake.

Not a fan of this tradition? My husband and I weren’t, either, so we decided to share the top tier of our cake right after we returned from our honeymoon! Neither of us had had the time to enjoy a slice of the cake we’d chosen on our actual wedding day, so it was nice to sit down and share a piece while the memory of our big day was still fresh in our minds. There are other alternatives, too, like ordering a small replica of your cake from the bakery who made your original wedding cake, or spicing up a basic anniversary cake with your original wedding cake topper!

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