SAN ANTONIO -- Jose Salzillo blames the growing popularity of competitive cake shows for making his job so much more challenging, although he's not complaining.
For example, The Cake Shop recently baked and constructed a 6x10-foot Kyle Field wedding cake for a die-hard Aggie groom. It fed 1,500 guests and had to be assembled at the wedding venue.
"People get really creative. They see all these crazy cakes on TV and want us to replicate them. And, you know, it's the trend right now. Everyone wants something out of the box, out of the ordinary," Salzillo said.
Salzillo and his wife, Perla, just celebrated the 10th anniversary of The Cake Shop at the Colonnade shopping center. Between the original store and their Stone Oak location, they bake about 100 cakes a day. They know a lot about cakes, and have noticed a few trends -- some good and some bad -- since baking became a spectator sport and television obsession.
It doesn't taste that good and it's more expensive, Salzillo said. The icing-like substance is used often on television shows, which explains why customers show up wanting a cake made with fondant even though the design of the cake doesn't necessarily call for it.
About six years ago, cupcakes started becoming more and more popular. And like wedding cakes, they too have a television show -- Cupcake Wars. But cupcakes aren't stealing the show, Salzillo said. Instead, they're sharing the spotlight, often served alongside a smallish wedding cake.
Some bakeries don't even mess with cake pops because they are so tedious to make. The extra work also makes them more expensive, which tends to steer customers away.
"They are very labor-intensive, and people don't want to spend $3 or $4 a cake pop. They'd rather spend their money on something else," Salzillo said.
The round, four-tier white wedding cake is making way for the topsy-turvy style, which basically looks like a cake that would be served at the Mad Hatter's tea party -- gracefully slanted from one side to another with each decadent layer.
"Everyone wants non-traditional, topsy-turvy or themed cakes you wouldn't see in the past," Salzillo explained.
Salzillo said it's a trend that may be exclusive to South Texas. More and more customers are asking for chocolate cake with a dash of cinnamon and cayenne pepper to "give it a little kick."
Although the trend has quieted in recent years -- Salzillo blames the economy -- a separate groom cake is a fun way to show the groom's personality. Salzillo said hunting, fishing, armadillo, Spurs, sports and car cakes are always popular.
One-year anniversary tip
Brides and grooms wishing to save the top tier of their cake to eat on their one-year anniversary should save the cake by placing it in the box and wrapping the box in plastic wrap. Many couples make the mistake of wrapping the cake in plastic wrap, which will leave the cake with an after-taste.
The Salzillos pride themselves on their willingness to accept even the craziest of cake requests -- like one in the shape of the birthday boy's head, complete with miniature zombies eating his brains. Wedding cakes usually cost between $500 to $1,000 but can run anywhere up to $2,000.