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Why are wedding cakes traditionally almond flavor?

The taste of wedding cake. Say those words in New Orleans, and those of us who grew up here know exactly what to expect: almond.

The taste is inspired by the classic New Orleans wedding cake, which is a white, almond-flavored confection topped with a sweetened pineapple filling and butter cream frosting.

I was living away from home when I married 20 years ago, so I had to organize my wedding from afar. I called and ordered a three-tiered, off-white cake from Swiss Confectionery with, of course, almond-flavored layers and pineapple filling.

A cake tasting? I didn’t need one.

“You knew what it tasted like,” said Lauren Moecklin Wightkin, who is part of the fifth generation of the family that opened the Swiss Confectionery in 1921. Laurent Moecklin, her brother, currently owns the store.

I knew since I’d had this combo at many other weddings in the area.

“Back in the olden days, back when my grandfather (owned the bakery), when you came to Swiss, you got almond cake with pineapple filling – whether you wanted it or not,” Wightkin said. “They only made that.”

According to her, Swiss Confectionery now manufactures white almond, vanilla, and devil’s food cakes with a variety of fillings.

And it turns out that the rest of the globe would undoubtedly want to try this flavor combination first. Many have no idea what New Orleanians are referring to when we say something is “wedding cake” flavor.

In 2005, out-of-town bakeries sampled the New Orleans tradition, while the levees breeches distributed New Orleanians around the nation.

“After Katrina, when everyone was scattered, the bakers would call from Memphis and say, ‘What do you mean you put almond in your cake? ‘I don’t get it.'” Wightkin explained.

“When you think about it, it doesn’t sound appealing. Try telling someone in Chicago that almonds are flavored with pineapple, and they’ll be like, “Wrinkling her nose, she explained.

“I can absolutely relate to that since I was not acquainted with this,” Melissa Samuels, owner of Melissa’s Fine Pastries in New Orleans and a Minnesota native, said. “When I first moved to New Orleans, I was like, ‘What is a wedding cake petit four at Gambino’s and what is a wedding cake snowball?”

“I don’t happen to like that flavor, honestly,” she said. “When I first started my business, I didn’t even have it on my menu. ‘Don’t you only bake wedding cakes?’ somebody asked. So it’s now on the menu, and it’s extremely popular.”

Numerous almond-flavored wedding cake recipes can be discovered on the Internet, and white or yellow cakes flavored with vanilla or almond are popular options for wedding cakes all around the globe.

Local bakers claim the almond cake is one of the most popular options for traditional nuptial confections in New Orleans. Also, the term “wedding cake flavor” is applied to other things, such as petit fours and birthday cakes, said Jackie Sue Scelfo, co-owner of Gambino’s Bakery, with her husband, Sam.

Scelfo and Liz Williams, director of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, couldn’t pinpoint exactly where the tradition came from, but both think it may have arrived with the influx of Sicilians in New Orleans. Sicilians regularly employ almond in their desserts, and candy-covered almonds are given out during weddings.

Since New Orleans is becoming a popular destination wedding destination, Crescent City norms occasionally clash with out-of-towners’ expectations.

“If folks from New Orleans come and want the wedding cake taste, you know it’s going to be almond cake,” said pastry chef Deborah Heyd of Teddy’s Café in the Roosevelt, who produces cakes for New Orleans brides and the rising number of couples who choose the city as a destination wedding location.

She claims that out-of-town guests have no expectation of a certain taste associated with wedding cake.

“When you say something has ‘wedding cake’ taste, people all around the nation have no clue what you’re talking about,” Beth Biundo of Beth Biundo Sweets remarked.

Moreover, in mixed marriages, when one half of the couple is from a different city or state, this might create a stop in the preparations.

“If one family is local and the other is from out of town, one family thinks they will have (an almond cake), and the out-of-towners are perplexed as to why that needs to be the case,” Biundo said.

Even non-New Orleanians, she claims, occasionally go along with it.

“People like it, but they don’t have the assumption that a wedding cake will be that flavor,” said Biundo, who offers a “traditional almond vanilla wedding cake with vanilla buttercream.” (She also makes an almond brown butter cake that sounds delicious.)

Even among New Orleans residents, almond is no longer a given. Cake varieties, styles, and colors are almost limitless. Area bakers attribute that to the proliferation of the Internet and social media idea sources, such as Pinterest and Instagram, with their gorgeous photos of multi-flavored cakes.

Katie Franklin, a New Orleans native who married her husband Andy Franklin on April 1 at Pat O’s on the River, examined three different bakers’ cakes before settling on the best-seller from Swiss Confectionery.

“I was astonished that I enjoyed it,” she remarked “I was assuming that almond with pineapple would be horrible, but it’s actually wonderful.

“It was a three-tiered white cake with pineapple filling. Finally, we agreed that this basic cake was the finest. It’s something that everyone will like since it’s not too out there.

Katie’s mother, who attended the tastings, advised them to eat the traditional cake first: “She was pushing for the white cake with pineapple.”


Related Questions

  • What is the traditional flavor of wedding cake?

    When it comes to wedding cakes, though, American couples have stuck to a tried-and-true formula: three-tiered and vanilla.

  • What is the most traditional wedding cake flavor?

    Vanilla cake

    Vanilla cake has remained the most common cake flavor at weddings since the 1960s, though its popularity has dipped from 48% of couples married in the 1980s surveyed, to just 26% of couples married in the 2010s surveyed. Red velvet and chocolate have both grown in popularity throughout the years.

  • Is almond a popular wedding cake flavor?

    Numerous almond-flavored wedding cake recipes can be discovered on the Internet, and white or yellow cakes flavored with vanilla or almond are popular options for wedding cakes all around the globe. In New Orleans, however, the almond cake ranks as one of the most popular choices for traditional nuptial confections, local bakers say.

  • What is wedding cake flavor made of?

    The addition of almond extract to the cake mix and buttercream gives the cake a traditional wedding cake taste.