This week, I had opportunity to connect with Maria Velasco, the expert cake baker and designer and owner at Once Upon A Cake in Alpharetta, GA. Satisfying sweet orders for decades, Maria has trained under the best in the industry and was a winning contestant in the North Georgia Cake Challenge. Maria speaks with us here about popular cake trends, the raging "naked cake," and how she got her start in baking.
-- All photos are used courtesy of Once Upon A Cake.
GWFL: How did you get started baking?
Maria: Growing up, my mother never baked. I had a friend named Lisa, and I when I went over to her house, her grandmother was baking. I found it so fascinating and just started baking!
GWFL: Very cool. Tell us, what are the most common trends in wedding cakes you're seeing these days?
Maria: Cupcake towers are very popular as well as rustic cakes like the "naked" wedding cake. Burlap is big. Brides are adding more color to their wedding cake. One bride wanted yellow and grey on her cake. Another wanted a purple cake. When you add in color to the wedding cake, it adds that pop - it's phenomenal! I just love that.
GWFL: What are the most common requests you get?
Maria: A lot of brides are liking more intricate piping work on their cakes, like the Lambeth Method, which is a really intricate one. Simple scrolls are not enough anymore. Some brides go crazy and want like a science fiction cake or even an upside-down cake. Anything goes now.
GWFL: That's very true - people are becoming less and less traditional. Emily Post used to be the turn-to for most brides; now they want to go against the grain.
GWFL: Naked cakes... they seem to be all the rage right now. Professional bakers have been making them for quite some time, but this year, they seem to be taking off. Tell our readers, what are "naked cakes" exactly and why do you think brides are loving them?
Maria: Naked Cake is a rustic kind of country cake that doesn't have any icing on the outside. There is filling between the layers, usually three or four layers in the cake and usually filled with butter cream. It is decorated with fruit or flowers. Not only is it great because it has less sugar, but in rustic settings, like a barn or woodsy venues, which is especially popular here in Georgia, it goes perfectly. It's great for a country wedding and beautiful when topped with fruit or flowers.
GWFL: Do you have any suggestions on how to keep naked cakes fresh?
Maria: After you bake it, wrap it up and leave it wrapped overnight to keep it moist. The cake is fresh because you fill it and decorate it the day of the wedding.
GWFL: Tell us about Once Upon A Cake's Naked Wedding Cake Giveaway. How did you come up with it? Do you need to be based in a certain area to enter the giveaway?
Maria: Yes, wedding has to be based in Georgia. We can up with it because we say it was a popular trend. The cake is rustic, it's charming, and we wanted to give one away. The details are on the site. The bride with the most romantic story wins the cake. (Visit http://www.onceuponacake.net/contact-us.html to enter for your chance to win, Georgia brides and grooms).
GWFL: How fitting that you're giving the cake away to the most romantic or fairy tale style wedding with the name "Once Upon A Cake!"
Maria: Yeah! We're romantics over here!
GWFL: I could tell when I met you and your husband years ago. You could tell he loved his Maria!
Maria: (Laughing) Yes.