Historically, the top tier of the wedding cake was saved to be eaten on the day of your first child's christening, but that tradition began when it was typical for a couple to welcome a child within a year of tying the knot. Over time, the tradition evolved, and the top tier of the wedding cake is generally saved to be eaten on your first wedding anniversary as a way to re-live the special event. But how long can you really save the top tier of your big-day dessert for?
Kimberly Bailey, owner of The Butter End Cakery, says, "There isn't a safety issue with eating year-old cake, but don't expect to enjoy it if it's been freezer burned!" The truth is, as long as you properly store the cake, it should last even longer than a year. "We do get letters—even photos—of the year-old confection with praise on how it still tastes great!" Bailey adds. Some couples enjoy slices of their cake for years following their wedding, so assuming it's packaged correctly and you have the room in your freezer, you could plan to enjoy it for several anniversaries to come.
Since many couples are so busy celebrating on the wedding day, few get to enjoy more than just a bite or two of cake, which is why saving the top tier is especially appealing. If you're considering freezing your cake to enjoy it on your anniversary, you'll want to take into account whether your cake is butter- or oil-based; the latter tends to preserve better in the freezer. If your cake has a fruit filling, remember that the texture of the cake might change when the fruit thaws.
If you're committed to the tradition, just make sure to carefully wrap the cake in plastic wrap, then tin foil, and store it in an airtight container. While many caterers will offer to pack it up for you, you may want to ask someone you trust to ensure the cake gets wrapped up and refrigerated as quickly as possible. Some bakers may even offer to bake a miniature version of your wedding cake and properly package it before the wedding so you don't have to worry about saving the actual top tier itself. "When our clients want to save their top tier, we actually package up a small tier in a box, label it clearly for the bide to take home, and deliver it to the venue with their wedding cake," Bailey explains.
On your anniversary, thaw the cake in the refrigerator for about 24 hours and then at room temperature for another hour before digging in. As an alternative to this age-old tradition, call your baker or caterer to bake a small anniversary cake with the same flavors as the original. It's another nice way to revisit your nuptials—and you'll know you're digging into the freshest version of the dessert possible.