Something for him:
Old World, New World groom cake comeback
Groom’s cakes are common in the American South and anyone from there likely is familiar with the tradition. But now these personality-oriented cakes are appearing at Michigan weddings, especially among young couples who wish to honor the grooms and their wedding guests.
Groom’s cakes are an Old World custom with origins in England. While bakers often make the traditional, tiered wedding cake with white flour and white sugar — indicating wealth in Victorian times — fruit cake or chocolate flat cake tends to be the groom’s cake served. The long-running custom involves cutting it into small pieces to be sent home with guests, even urging single ladies to sleep with the cake under their pillows and dream about their future husband.
Modern groom’s cake
Today, these special cakes are growing in popularity, particularly with young couples with plenty of imagination, humor and a taste for bright colors. Groom’s cakes are made in various designs and shapes, often imaginatively decorated to the bride and groom’s specifications.
“These cakes are definitely something young couples like. The bride often picks out the groom’s favorite sports team. I have made a Boston Red Socks stadium, an MSU ‘S,’ and cakes with the emblems of U of M, the Tigers, Lions, Pistons and Red Wings,” said Maria Sargent, who owns Sweet Maria’s Confections in downtown Petoskey.
She said it’s been fast-paced and steady since she opened her new store on Mitchell Street. She provided sweet treats for 25 summer weddings by Labor Day, including a handful that ordered groom’s cakes. Groom’s cakes are less expensive than wedding cakes, but can cost several hundred dollars, depending on the size and requested decorations.
Angie Foldenawer has baked groom’s cakes since 2005 for Johan’s Pastry Shop in Petoskey. She tends to make between eight and 10 each year, usually for young couples.
“I find that these cakes are often served at the rehearsal dinner. They are decorated with the groom’s favorite hobbies or sports team,” she said. “The most unusual request I have ever had was for one of an armadillo cake. Right now I have a request for one of Captain America’s shield.”
American history, too
Television foodies repeatedly tout the popularity of cupcakes as the baked good of choice at weddings. They must be on to something, as some brides and grooms opt for cupcakes in place of more common tiered wedding cakes.
Cupcakes first appeared in a late-18th century American cookbook and are less expensive than wedding cake. They can be custom-made for guests who have special dietary requirements, such as nut- or gluten-free needs. The personal-sized cakes tend to cost a minimum $1.50 each, though can be ordered in miniature, regular and jumbo sizes. Cupcakes come in a variety of flavors and decorations to suit the tastes of guests, allowing them to make their own choice at the reception.
Emmy Glass, who owns Sugar Bean Cupcakes in Alanson, started her business last year and stayed busy with weddings ever since.
“With cupcakes, the brides and grooms can customize their cupcakes with a variety of styles,” she said.
Glass prepares her home-baked cupcakes in her kitchen, but hopes to grow into a commercial kitchen one day. This means she specializes in small batches baked to order. She also makes cake truffles from fondant that can be molded into shapes, such as calla lilies.
“I do lots of decorations of flowers and pearls in colors that match the wedding colors,” Glass said.
These special, small cakes are an old tradition reinvented for contemporary weddings in very colorful, exciting and creative ways. Single women may not sleep with a cupcake under their pillows, but the old American novelty is a fun addition to any wedding reception.
Rules for special cakes
There are no rules for groom’s cakes or cupcakes regarding when or how they are served, certainly none that might restrain possible designs. Both can reflect the personalities of brides and grooms and add a sentimental or even humorous element to the whole wedding celebration, whether at the rehearsal dinner or reception.