BY CATHERINE PHELAN
When Prince William famously ordered a groom’s cake for his wedding reception this past April, he opted for something lavishly sweet: a dense chocolate biscuit cake that the Queen was said to have on offer when William visited during breaks from his studies at Eton. While groom’s cakes were enjoying a revival before William and Kate’s wedding, the publicity surrounding the royal nuptials helped increase demand for them throughout the US, not just in the South, where they’ve been popular for years.
“These cakes are back in a big way,” says Deborah Wright of White Lace Cakes, serving the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. Today’s more inclusive style of wedding planning is another reason for their recent vogue. “I think it’s a reflection of the greater input a groom now has,” Wright points out. “Brides and their mothers no longer are the only ones making the decisions.”
Groom’s cakes are, like Prince William’s choice, traditionally chocolate – sometimes overwhelmingly so. A triple play of chocolate cake, fudge filling, and chocolate ganache icing is not uncommon. “Often the deeper and darker the better,” says Wright.
For non-chocoholics, red velvet cake frequently tops the list. Don Harwerth, owner of 10th Street Baking Co. in Belleville, Ill., says, “It was popular, even when it wasn’t in style.” And for grooms eager for new tastes, cake designers are experimenting boldly. Laurie Ditunno of New York’s Cake Alchemy reports her Guinness butter crème creation was an instant hit.
While Prince William’s cake was crafted as a multi-tiered square, most groom’s cakes in the U.S. take on fanciful forms, “They tend to reflect a passion, a sport, or profession,” says Kim Payne of Wedding Cakes by Kim Payne. Cakes are shaped like basketballs, planes, racing cars – just about anything goes. “I’ve even created a replica of Fenway Park!” Ditunno says.
Wedding planners and bakers find that with the renewed interest in groom’s cakes comes questions about how they’re best served. At the reception or rehearsal dinner? Planners say either time is good, although the reception usually wins out. Who foots the bill? The bride often orders the groom cake for her husband-to-be. How big are these cakes? Typically a third of the wedding cake’s size. “I believe they should be small and compliment the wedding cake,” says Harwerth. As to when they’re cut? Usually right after the wedding cake, and then served simultaneously with it.
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