As a wedding cake baker in Pittsburgh I am asked about groom’s cake on a daily basis. What is it? Why do couple’s have one? Where did the tradition emerge from? Is it for the wedding or the rehearsal dinner? Should it be comprised of chocolate cake?

Many people relate groom’s cake to the quirky red velvet armadillo featured in the movie Steel Magnolias and think “why would I want that at my wedding?” But truly, groom’s cake is a Southern custom rooted as strongly as the tradition of having a vast array of wedding cookies is in Western Pennsylvania. Superstition dictates that the single women in attendance of the wedding should take a slice of groom’s cake home,sleep with it under their pillow, and that night they will dream of their future husband. Whether these sweet matrimonial dreams really do materialize or not, it would appear that the Southern tradition of groom’s cake is indeed making a revival, and is becoming very popular in metropolitan cities where designers are creating elaborate displays to reflect the interests of the groom.

Recently while at a wedding in New York City, I beheld a groom’s cake that replicated the groom’s Labrador retriever laying on a pillow with the car keys to his BMW. The detail was phenomenal from the furry hatching of the dog to the BMW insignia on the keyring, and I must say the groom was quite impressed by this confectionery surprise planned by his bride. This is not to say that all groom’s cakes must be so detailed or elaborate, but there is something to be said for highlighting the interests or vocation of the groom in a special cake.

At Jody’s Pantry we have had requests for groom’s cakes ranging from an intricate lawyer’s scale of justice designed with marbleized fondant, to a fun and simple farmer’s garden complete with cows and John Deere tractors. Also popular are cakes decorated like the groom’s tuxedo complete with lapels, a bow tie and a small fondant boutonniere. Realistic basket cakes completed by a fondant or grapevine handle, with fresh fruit or tuxedo chocolate dipped strawberries spilling out are also trendy this year. Sports themes often find their way into groom’s cake in the shape of baseball caps with the favored team’s insignia, or football or basketball shaped cakes.

As for the question of when to serve this confectionery tribute, it would appear that either at the rehearsal dinner, or displayed at the wedding reception, guests and the groom alike will enjoy the chance to glimpse into the groom’s interests or hobbies. If served at rehearsal as the evening’s dessert, the cake should be comprised of something favored by the groom. If the groom adores his grandmother’s German chocolate cake recipe or Aunt Sophie’s almond cake, perhaps your baker or designer would consent to using that special recipe.

When served as a component of the wedding, this is a great place to highlight a chocolate choice such as chocolate fudge cake with raspberry truffle filling or peanut creme filling. We also find that many couples opt to feature carrot cake with cream cheese glace and pecans in their Fall groom’s cake.

Pricing for groom’s cake varies based upon the design complexity, cake composition, and the flavor and filling components. Basic butter cream designs can start at $1.25 per serving and go upwards of $8 per serving for intricate fondant designs. These pricing guidelines are subjective, however, as I find prices to widely fluctuate in our service area between home bakers and licensed storefront designers. And again, always ask for a taste test, customer referrals, and Department of Agriculture license before booking any baker or cake designer.

From beer kegs to briefcases, race cars to reptiles just about anything can be replicated in cake by a talented baker that will honor your groom by spotlighting his favorite hobby, interest or vocation, and add a little whimsy to your reception. Who knows? You may even aid your single friends with cake inspired sweet dreams.

By Jody Wimer of Jody’s Pantry in Pittsburgh