When I mentioned I was writing this blog about the origin of the groom’s cake, one of my co-workers said she always assumed it was a southern thing because we generally like to eat more than the rest of the country. While our love affair with food is undeniable, the groom’s cake is actually of English decent, first appearing during the Victorian Era (1837-1901). The tradition has since mostly faded away across the pond, but it’s still trendy here in the U.S., especially in the South, where we tend to have a deep appreciation for not just most things edible but also for customs of days gone by.
Like the earliest wedding cakes, groom’s cakes were originally made of fruit cake. The modern version we know today only came about after the inception of processed flour and baking soda. Fruit, liqueur and chocolate were common ingredients in the first groom’s cakes. Chocolate still reigns as the most requested flavor, not only across the country, but here at Haydel’s too.
Today, we usually see the groom’s cake served alongside the wedding cake, as a compliment or additional alternative to the multi tiered showstopper, but that was not always the case.
A Mysterious Past
The groom’s cake has been linked to many a legend. Rumor has it that there were once three separate cakes at the celebration…the wedding cake, a bride’s cake, and a groom’s cake (sounds like my kind of party!). While the wedding cake was served to all the guests, the bride and groom’s cakes were specifically for members of the wedding party and served following the ceremony.
Some say the groom’s cake was once simply the top tier of the elaborate wedding cake, meant to be saved and enjoyed on the couple’s first anniversary. This has since evolved into its own custom.
As a stand alone cake, we’ve heard it was common at one time to present individually wrapped slices in monogrammed boxes to each guest as a wedding favor as they left the party.
For modern couples who choose to embrace the groom’s cake tradition, the details of this masculine confection may serve as a surprise from the bride to her future husband, or they may be entirely of his choosing. Either way, it is most often made to reflect his personal taste and even his favorite pastime or hobby.
One superstition suggests that single ladies who placed a slice of the groom’s cake under their pillow would dream of their future husbands. In similar lore, a ceremony in my own sorority advised that sleeping with a special piece of cake under your pillow would make your dreams true, but not specific to one’s future betrothed…although the two go hand and hand for many.
Serve It Up
Some say etiquette calls for the groom’s cake not to be served at the wedding at all. However exceptions apparently can be made if wedding cake is the only dessert being served, with the groom’s cake following the serving of the wedding cake. Alternatively, it has been suggested that individual slices can be boxed and given to the single women at the reception, certainly so they can place it under their pillow.
Don’t fear the cake police. I doubt they’ll pay you a visit on your big day. If they do, they may be disguised as unwanted, misguided opinions, which I highly suggest you disregard. The groom’s cake is a chance for you or your other half to have fun and be creative with the flavor and the design if you wish. Keep it classy of course, but no matter what, remember it’s your day together, so make your own rules. You may even start a new tradition. Check out our gallery of groom’s cakes here: http://www.haydelbakery.com/groom – M.T.