'Cake is my canvas' 

Edible art at Miss Polly's Cake Giants

Wanda Beckett, aka "Miss Polly," is a woman with a mission. Some artists work in watercolor and acrylics, some in metal and wood. Miss Polly's medium of choice is cake.

After years working nights at the post office, raising five kids on her own and making her neighborhood a happier place through her baking, she and her dad, carpenter Andrew Relaford, built the little bakery over on Ogeechee Road about four years ago.

No way you can miss it: a sky blue chalet with pink trim and a multi-tier cake logo, SCAD-designed and eye-catching to anyone riding by, and yes, that sweet scent of baking wafts through the air to draw you in.

Pay her a visit, take a look around and definitely try those luscious Red Velvet cupcakes. Her mother, Essie Relaford, passed down that recipe, along with a wonderfully moist and delicious sour cream pound cake and a lighter butter cake. Those three form the basis of most of her work at Miss Polly's Cake Giants, where her motto is "You call; I bake!"

Why Cake Giants? To answer, she called out, "Artis, come on out here." One of her boys made a smiling appearance at the kitchen door: Very tall, very big, very happy, he is one of four sons; the youngest three of whom are employed at the bakery. "Artez, the oldest, Artis, Armon, Arshad and one daughter, Sharmontez."

These are her crew, and Miss Polly is the Queen Bee and Artiste. The store is bright and colorful, filled with all sorts of decorations to choose from, and a single case that holds a variety of cupcakes, butter cake squares, and usually a big chocolate-iced chocolate cake.

Why is the selection was so simple? "Because I'm here to design cakes. Sculpture and decoration are my passion. You try these cupcakes to help you decide your flavor, but the main idea is to make your dream cake a reality, whether it's for a birthday, wedding, confirmation, shower, or football season. People come to me for one-of-a-kind cakes!"

Looking around at the displays, I can say truthfully that she has some unusual items here, including a 7-layer giant of a cake with an intricate sugar-lace pattern overlay on the icing, and a groom's cake that looks like a huge, shiny red candied apple.

This is not the usual bakery where you'll find a bevy of baked delights on display; it's more like an artist's workshop or a sculptor's design studio. The goodies in the case are there so you can decide on Red Velvet or Carrot cake, butter or lemon flavor, chocolate or strawberry. The pièce de résistance is the unique image you carry in your heart that will be sculpted and lovingly created by Miss Polly.

I look through the books she has piled up and indeed, she has some doozies! If you search "Miss Polly's Cake Giants" on YouTube you'll see an amazing variety of truly beautiful designs. "Bling" is the new thing for brides: Cakes decorated with jeweled bands or antique brooches, pearls, everything from great-grandma's cameo to huge glittering initials on top (all removed before cutting, of course).

Miss Polly says, "I bake cupcakes for people to eat — more cake than icing!" They may be simple, but the taste is authentically buttery and delicious. You can bring a photo, a drawing, even your favorite handbag or shoe, and she'll create your design just like you want it.

Closed only on Sunday and Monday, you'll find her bakery-studio open from 10am-5pm Tuesday-Friday and until 4pm on Saturday. Old Southern goodies like sweet potato pie, Red Velvets, bread pudding and more available for order during the holidays. You can also stop by her newest store just opened at Wilmington Island in Mercer Plaza and talk to one of her Cake Giants to show them what you want.


Miss Polly's Cake Giants

2325 Ogeechee Rd. at 40th St. near Tompkins Gym


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