Here Comes the Groom's Cake!
A wonderful opportunity to honor the groom.
If you've attended a wedding recently and there were two cakes instead of one, you may have seen and tasted a groom's cake. It may seem to be something entirely new, but the groom’s cake actually has a rich tradition in wedding history that dates back to Victorian England and perhaps even earlier. More recently popular in the rest of the country, the groom’s cake has for years been an important part of weddings in the South.
Legends surround the custom. One has it originating as a rich, dark fruit cake. Another suggests it was once used as the top layer of the bride's cake and not served to wedding guests at all. But many people remember the groom's cake as a confection sent home with guests in small silver or white boxes monogrammed with the couple's initials and tied with ribbons. Tradition held that if an unmarried woman slept with that slice of cake under her pillow she would have sweet dreams of the man she might someday marry.
Today, though, many brides find the groom's cake especially appealing because it is a way to give the groom special recognition at a time when most of the attention centers on the bride. Some brides prefer to surprise their fiancés as a way to say "thank you" for helping get through the insanity of wedding planning. Other couples just enjoy the fun of designing an unusual cake together. And of course choosing from all the many wonderful flavors is a definite treat. Traditionally chocolate is the most popular, but the groom’s favorite flavor is always the right choice.
Truffles, bows, or baseballs?
Almost always smaller than the wedding cake, a groom’s cake can nonetheless have just as much impact. Ranging from understated elegance, with a tailored chocolate bow and gold monogram, to the utter indulgence of a cake piled high with chocolate truffles, or to wildly comic reflections of the grooms personality or interests, the possibilities are endless. Almost anything, including the groom’s tuxedo, can be used as inspiration. Themes can be as varied as hobbies, sports, pets and computers--even favorite foods!
However, there are a few words of caution. Unfortunately, many favorite themes such as sports logos or cartoon characters are copyright protected and may not be reproduced by professional bakers without written permission. Sometimes the solution is as easy as asking for permission, and at other times designs can be modified. A football helmet cake could perhaps have the groom’s initials or caricature in place of a team logo, yet still use the team colors. Or a purchased figurine can be set onto a cake “stage”. Often a little flexibility and creativity is all that’s needed.
Yes, but when?
Grooms cakes are often served as a decadent treat in addition to the more feminine wedding cake, but some couples prefer to offer one at the rehearsal dinner. This can be a particularly fitting time since the groom's family usually hosts that occasion. Boxed slices can still serve as lovely wedding favors, whether or not they’re placed under pillows, or the cake can even star as the centerpiece at a post-wedding brunch the next day!
Perhaps the most romantic choice would be to take the groom's cake with you after the reception to enjoy as a "sweet" start to your life together. But however it’s designed, and whenever it’s served, the groom's cake is a delightful tradition that adds a distinctive, personal touch to any wedding and is most definitely a fitting tribute to any groom.
Kim Morrison, Certified Master Sugar Artist, hon. is known for her life-like sugar flowers and elegant wedding cake designs, and has been competing in and judging cake shows for many years. She runs Cakes for Occasions, her specialty cake business in central Pennsylvania, and teaches sugar art design nationwide.
Originally an artist with a BFA in glassblowing and watercolor, she chose to become a cake designer and sugar artist since “chocolate tastes so much better than paint!” She was Grand Prize winner in both the 2003 and 2004 National Wedding Cake Competitions in Oklahoma, and in the 2007 Mid-Atlantic Show Wedding Competition. She has also appeared as both a winning contestant and judge on the Food Network.