"The Devil Made Me Do It."
For Michael Hensley, owner of Victoria’s Cakery in Old Town Fairfax, that’s not an excuse. It’s one of the signature cakes and cupcakes he and his cakery bakery staff are whipping up for the annual Chocolate Lover’s Festival in Fairfax the first weekend of March.
"We use every kind of chocolate in that cake," Hensley said. "It has layers of chocolate truffle and candy, brownies, a white chocolate layer and then it’s covered in ganache with dark chocolate shavings on top. It’s pretty rich and sinful if you love chocolate."
Victoria’s Cakery is the only City of Fairfax vendor participating in the popular two-day festival, which features dozens of bakers and chocolatiers from the region who bake, frost, compete and showcase their chocolate confections. Victoria’s, which opened in 1984 on Main Street, has been part of the festival since it started in 1992.
Hensley said he and his six bakers have been busy since January working on the nearly 3,000 cakes and cupcakes they will feature at the festival. This year, he is debuting a new cake, in honor of his 3-month-old daughter, Lyla.
"Lyla’s cake is a velvety chocolate cake with cream-cheese icing," he said.
Most of the cakes at Victoria’s are named after friends and family. There’s Erica’s Heaven (peanut butter and chocolate), Katie’s Razz Matazz and Barb’s Peppermint, among others. But it’s Jan’s Mother’s Friend’s Carrot Cake with cream cheese frosting that launched Victoria’s.
"My mom, who is named Victoria, was always baking," Hensley said. "She started by selling Jan’s Mother’s Friend’s Carrot Cake at markets and other small shops, and it was so popular that she decided to open this business in 1984."
Hensley, who took over the business in 1991, loved to bake, but went to college to become an Industrial Designer. "I’ve always been good at baking, and it’s what I still love to do. You have to have a passion for it, because it’s long hours." Hensley added that a good cake baker needs to have a sophisticated palate. "It’s not just having a sweet tooth, you have to be able to taste different layers of flavors and know what will work with customers," he said.
Hensley carried on his mother’s tradition of personally naming cakes. There’s Rhy's Red Velvet cake, named for his 4-year-old son, and Reagan’s Spice Cake, for his 19-month-old daughter. There’s also the unexpected hit cake, Dez’s Chocolate Chipper, which Hensley created by accident.
"Desiree is my wife’s name, and, let me add, she’s the love of my life," he said. "The cake was born when we messed up a batch of vanilla pound cake. So we threw in chocolate chips, and then added buttercream frosting and a chocolate glaze on top. It turned out to be great."
Victoria’s secret to a thriving cakery is not flashy cakes — like the 6-foot tall wedding cakes on a Food Network throw down. It’s pure homemade taste, Hensley said.
"We are known for our homemade cakes. We don’t do a lot of complicated designs. We will write on the cake, and tie it with a ribbon, but we let the cakes do the talking here."
"It’s a quality homemade product," said Angela Wijas, who has been decorating cakes for 12 years at Victoria’s. "What nice is that Michael makes the atmosphere here like a close-knit family, and we treat our customers like family too."
Longtime customer Jane Owens of Fairfax agreed. "The cakes here are wonderful, and they do have that homemade taste." Owens said she frequently picks up cakes for birthdays, anniversaries and other family celebrations.
"The Huggs cake is one of our favorites," Owens said. Huggs mixes white and dark chocolate.
In addition to the cakes, many of which are offered in the trendy cupcake size, Victoria’s has scones, tea breads, cheesecakes and cookies. Much of their business is wedding cakes, but they also do a brisk weekday business for "snackers," Hensley said.
"We sell a lot of cake slices, cupcakes and cookies to what I call ‘snackers,’ during the week; and then the weekend is usually about the event cakes," he said.
"Victoria’s Cakery has a great reputation," said Beverly Myers, chairman of Friends of Fairfax and long-time organizer of the Chocolate Lover's Festival. "In year's past, they have sold out of all their cakes on the first day of the festival. I know people are really fond of their Heaven cake, with the raspberry filling and white chocolate frosting."
Hensley said the Heaven cake accounts for nearly 50 percent of their sales, and plenty slices of Heaven will be available at the Chocolate Lover’s Festival, a virtuous option to the decadent The Devil Made Me Do It cake.
For more information on Victoria’s Cakery, visit www.VictoriasCakeryInc.com or call 703-273-0800.