Wedding season is upon us and many, especially in the northern, Midwest and eastern U.S. ask what is a Groom’s cake? Just ask a Southerner from the United States to hear about the “must have” of the Southern wedding. “After a century of transformation, the Groom’s cake of today expresses the personality of the Groom,” explained Bobby Jucker, fifth generation baker and co-owner of Three Brothers Bakery in Houston, TX.
The inclusion of the Groom’s Cake during the bridal celebration began around mid-19th century in Britain and somehow appeared in the Southern United States during the early 1900s becoming a Southern tradition according to foodtimeline.org . A year ago Prince William and his bride Kate Middleton during their nuptial celebration shared a Groom’s cake made of chocolate and tea biscuits enjoyed from his youth.
In modern day where does one go when questioning baking traditions? How about to a 4th generation baker who has been baking most of his 90 years and his 5th generation baking son?
“In the 1960s I first was asked for a Groom’s cake,” said Sigmund Jucker, one of the founders of Three Brothers Bakery. “It was a simple, double stacked chocolate sheet cake. Double stacked, so the tier height matched the height of the wedding cake tier and always a chocolate cake, chocolate butter cream icing and filling. A cake to feed 200 cost about $75 or 37 cents a slice,” continued the senior Jucker.
Once Sigmund Jucker learned about the Groom’s cake, Jucker said with a smile “I always suggested a Groom’s cake, for it was another sale.” What he did not realize was how he perpetuated the tradition throughout the South.
Superstition had it if a single girl slept with a slice of Groom’s cake slipped under her pillow, she would dream of her future groom. Janice Jucker, wife of Bobby Jucker, remembers during the 1960s her mother coming home with a slice of cake and putting it under her pillow several times, for they were given out as favors of the wedding.
In the 1970s, Bobby Jucker, explained “the Groom’s cake became a bit more elaborate – still chocolate adding fresh fruit, chocolate shavings and at times even multi-tiered, but never would I let the cake outshine the Bride’s wedding cake.”
Not until the 1980s did the Groom’s personality begin to appear within the 2D cutouts and 3D cakes of mainly “manly” subjects, such as sports, autos and hunting to name a few.
When fondant came on the scene in the late 1980s the decorating canvas made some of the impossible possible. Three Brothers Bakery began being known for their large 3D confections, even making an Astrodome cake for the stadium’s 20th anniversary.
“I think the trend began with the movie “Steel Magnolias” and the “bleeding” armadillo Groom’s cake. Today, in 2012, couples still come in asking for a “bleeding armadillo” made with red velvet cake and ask if we have ever heard of it,” chuckled Jucker.
The 1990s followed suit with more bakers venturing out into the world of the 3D cake. Before the baking shows, in 2006, Three Brothers Bakery and Jucker made their first “Extreme Cake,” - an 8.5 foot oil derrick shooting 3.5 feet of fire. “Today we can do anything,” said Jucker.
Each cake comes with a story. Jucker shared a favorite story, “In 2010 a Groom was going to have to get rid of a ‘stuffed’ wild turkey he had hunted if he wanted to marry the Bride. So as a joke the Bride’s family ordered a life size wild turkey, for the wedding day was the last day for the turkey. Most definitely the Groom’s personality was felt and heard at that wedding.”
The Groom’s cakes of Sigmund Jucker’s day ran about 37 cents a slice while today’s cake begins at $1.50 a slice for the most simple of cake and design. Should you want the “wild turkey” of cakes, most likely like Prince William’s, it is all custom work to be quoted only after detailed design appointments.
A century after the Groom’s cake arrived in the South approximately 80% of all weddings include some form of a Groom’s cake, and now the Groom’s cake begins to gain favor throughout the U.S. “Over 50% of all cake consultations include the Groom,” said the younger Jucker, for “the Groom’s cake allows the Groom to share his personality and preferences.” Perhaps a year ago Prince William was like all Groom’s wanting to put a piece of his personal self into the celebration and, in so doing, he gave us the renaissance of the Groom’s cake.
Note from Janice: This post was a also a press release published April 30, 2012