July 31, 2019

Contributed
Unique D'Lites Custom Cakes is owned by Nancy Davila.

Contributed Unique D'Lites Custom Cakes is owned by Nancy Davila.

ISLAMORADA — Unique D’Lites Custom Cakes owner Nancy Davila’s former career as a fashion designer made the transition to professional cake dresser an easy one.

She considers cakes as the crescendo to many celebrations. Cake makes people happy, especially a beautiful showstopper cake.

Davila says she wishes she discovered her cake decorating skills earlier in life since it is her true calling.

Unique D’Lites Custom Cakes has been on the upswing since wobbling after the 2017 Hurricane Irma.

The cake shop, which specializes in wedding cakes, now employs a baker in addition to Davila and an office assistant.

“This is my fourth year, but my business took a turn after the hurricane,” Davila said. “I thought for sure I was going to have to close my doors, but luckily I was discovered by a few resorts not destroyed by Irma [that were] scrambling to rebook venues.”

“There’s no sleeping when you’re a baker, and I needed help because I was barely sleeping,” she added.

High season for pastry bakers in the Florida Keys is February through June. During those months, Unique D’Lites Custom Cakes creates six to 10 cakes per week. Most are delivered by Davila sealed in boxes to ensure they stay cool.

Sugar, she says, doesn’t hold well in high humidity, and abhors high heat.

“In the last four years, I’ve probably aged about 20 years. I’m dealing with buttercream in the Keys. It’s temperamental,” she said.

That’s why Davila takes the precaution of delivering wedding cakes during the reception right before it’s served, if refrigeration isn’t an option.

“I also have fake cakes that can be used for display while the real cake that actually gets cut and served is in the back,” she said.

Unique D’Lites Custom Cakes specializes in sculpted cakes, custom cake toppers made of fondant and sugar-gum paste, cookies, cake pops, pies, macaroons and more.

One of Davila’s more challenging cake designs is a suspenseful hanging chandelier cake. It’s constructed using wires and is hung from a wire nest.

Davila once hung a chandelier cake from a tree branch upon the bride’s request.

“I was so nervous hanging that one, but it turned out great,” she said feeling rewarded for having defeated both high humidity and gravity.

She said she enjoys making the groom’s cake, as they tend to be a little more creative.

Davila is sharing her secrets for making beautiful and creative cakes.

Unique D’Lites Custom Cakes is hosting a four-week class that covers the necessary skills and industry knowledge for her students to make a professionally decorated cake from start to finish.

The first class will go over cake-making basics with a list of materials to be assigned. During the second class, students will apply buttercream icing to a foam cake using a crumb coating technique.

“It’s like prepping the cake so it doesn’t fall apart,” said Davila. “It’s going to be sturdier.”

The third class covers decorating the cake using color and materials. By the fourth class, students will ice and decorate a real cake.

The weekly classes begin at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 7, and last three to four hours. The cost for the four-week course is $89 and reservations are required with an enrollment deadline of Saturday, Aug. 3.

For more information about the classes, or to order a cake, call 305-303-0829, email unique.d.lites@gmail.com or visit uniquedlites.wixsite.com/unique-d-lites.

Unique D’Lites Custom Cakes shop is located at 80925 Overseas Highway at the Galleria Plaza in Islamorada.

tjava@keysnews.com