By Mary Luz Mejia
By Mary Luz Mejia
Admittedly, adult cakes are an acquired taste. Some are very elegantly
crafted to look more like finely sculpted art pieces than XXX
eye-poppers, while others are meant to be provocative and shocking.
| CakeStar baker/designer Barbara Accogli, left, and cake artist Monja Chiara.
Admittedly, adult cakes are an acquired taste. Some are very elegantly crafted to look more like finely sculpted art pieces than XXX eye-poppers, while others are meant to be provocative and shocking.
Either way, this is a baking industry niche that isn’t going away. Once relegated to bachelorette and stag parties, the adult cake is now making show-stealing headlines at milestone birthday celebrations and even anniversary parties. And its shock-factor innovations can be and have been ratcheted up for those who seek a vicarious, cake-based thrill.
Michelle and June Heidrick, the mother-daughter team behind Katie’s Cakes in East York, Ont., and they agree that their customers buy these creations to put a smile on the recipient’s face as well as to incur the crimson glow of a full-fledged blush.
“I think everybody is a little more liberal these days in general and they want a little bit more of an edge in their cakes,” Michelle says. “The people purchasing these cakes from us want the recipient to say, ‘Oh my God!’ and then it was worth every penny they paid. They love to shock.”
June has been making naughty cakes (and confections such as adult chocolate lollypops) for 30 years at her nut-free bakery. The duo now sell more than 300 of these cakes a year. Customers can select a female or male torso (covered or nude), they can focus on a specific body part or they can go as off-the-wall as their imagination allows.
Michelle, known as the artistic family member, says, “The amount of work I put into every cake makes them look real.”
June adds: “That’s my daughter – nothing gets out that door unless it’s perfect.” To which Michelle responds, “I always say, if I wouldn’t pay the money myself for something, then it’s not getting out there.”
There’s a lot of passion behind baking and decorating the perfect cake, no matter the subject. Katie’s Cakes gets groups of girlfriends buying an erotic cake for their best friend’s bachelorette party, or a wife wanting to surprise her husband on his 50th birthday. Men are more reticent to buy erotic cakes – the majority of customers are women.
To build their reputation in the adult cake market, sisters Barbara Accogli and Monja Chiara of CakeStar Bakery in Scarborough launched the erotic cake side of their business at last October’s Everything To Do With Sex Show in Toronto. One of Katie’s Cake’s employees saw their very realistic and intricate cakes at the show and reported back to June with admiration. It’s no wonder, given that the sisters learned the finer points of baking from their Roman pastry chef father, Nicola Chiaravalloti.
“The encyclopedia of baking,” as Accogli calls him, taught them, in order to make a truly fabulous cake, no matter what the shape, there are no shortcuts.
At CakeStar, the inside of the cake is just as important as the hand-painted, sculpted exterior. A coffee and cognac cream between sponge layers is a customer favourite; as is the rum caramel cream that Accogli says, “tastes like a rum butter Life Saver.” But if you’re to judge a book by its cover, then CakeStar’s cover has all of the details of a sculptured piece of art – in large part thanks to Chiara’s artistic inclinations.
“We’re not just bakers – we like to think of ourselves as edible designers. If you can imagine it, we can make it,” Chiara says.
How far will CakeStar go to please customers?
“We’ll make the cake as wild as our clients want. We can add body jewelry, tattoos; we can replicate a favourite piece of lingerie – the works. We’re Romans, nothing can shock us!” Accogli says with a laugh.
The sisters don’t just make erotic cakes; they make what they proudly call “edible art.” They use no moulds, preferring a made-to-measure approach; they even airbrush the skin colour onto their cakes for added realism.
When asked how they would respond to others in the industry who frown upon the whole concept of adult cakes, all of the bakers and artists had definite opinions.
“We’ve had other bakers tell us, ‘I just can’t bring myself to make those erotic cakes,’ and I tell them, ‘That’s fine, go ahead and send them all to me! We don’t take it too seriously – it’s just cake!” says June Heidrick of Katie’s Cakes.
Accogli concurs, saying, “Life’s too short not to have fun and be creative and we get to do that with these cakes. It’s why we love coming to work!”
For the record, CakeStar and Katie’s Cakes make customized birthday, wedding, anniversary and other specialty cakes. Both have clients that have compared their work to Duff Goldman’s Ace of Cakes whimsical offerings. But it seems that the cakes that allow both bakeries to truly flex their creative muscle and play with child-like abandon are adult cakes.
After all, as long as there are naughty customers, there will be naughty cakes.
Mary Luz Mejia is a Toronto-based freelance food writer and food programming TV producer whose sweet tooth enjoys a good piece of cake – even the naughty kind! E-mail her at email@example.com.