The towering vanilla buttercream and raspberry confection became an instant classic, just like the other details connected with the wedding of the future President of the United States and his First Lady.
FEW things could have upstaged the bride and groom when Jacqueline Lee Bouvier married John F Kennedy on 12 September 1953 in Newport, Rhode Island. The "inquiring camera girl" (Jackie's gig at the Washington Times-Herald) and up-and-coming senate hopeful had met at a dinner party two years previously. Now they were hosting the wedding of the decade at St. Mary's Church, followed by a reception at Hammersmith Farm, the sprawling oceanfront estate of Jackie's stepfather Hugh Auchincloss.
The bride was resplendent in an Anne Lowe gown with an heirloom lace veil. The groom was dashing in a morning suit. The Pope had sent special blessings for their union, witnessed by 800 people during the Catholic ceremony. An additional 400 had been invited for the subsequent reception, making it a total of 1200 guests. Jackie and JFK spent two hours shaking everyone's hands. The atmosphere, one guest commented, was "like a coronation".
When it was finally time for the newlyweds to take some refreshments, they seated themselves at a King Arthur-style table, set with elegant cutlery and glassware. Toasts were made as flutes of Champagne circulated among the guests. The al fresco wedding luncheon incorporated cool, fresh flavours: fruit salad served in hollowed out pineapple halves, followed by creamed chicken for the mains, and ice cream carved into the shape of roses for dessert.
But the main attraction was one that towered directly before the newlywed's seats... a confection most pleasing to the eye: a four-feet-tall wedding cake. With five tiers and made locally by a bakery (Plourdes in Massachusetts) JFK was known to frequent since his campaigning days, the wedding cake was a gift from his father, Joseph P Kennedy.
Intricate and minute detailing had been piped along the circumference of the cake's five layers, but beyond that it was classic and unadorned without any extra flourishes or embellishments. Instead, masses of flowers surrounded the cake. The flavours too were simple and elegant, a combination of raspberry and vanilla: Layers of white cake were interspersed with raspberry in the form of both jam and frosting, while vanilla buttercream covered the entire edifice.
And although a very famous photo exists, of JFK gently declining a rather large slice of wedding cake held out by his little sister-in-law Janet, it was only because he'd already had his fill. In fact, he was so appreciative of the cake that he asked for the same one to be served at his presidential inauguration, seven years later!