The Sweet Life! November Vendor Spotlight with Simply Naked Sweets in Belchertown, MA.

Simply Naked Sweets Cupcakes

Some of the delicious cupcakes Michelle provided for Dakin.

We stumbled upon Simply Naked Sweets at the Dakin Birthday Celebration in July.  We’d never heard of them before, and we were suddenly faced with countless rows of intricately decorated and mouthwateringly delicious cupcakes.  At the insistence of the Dakin Event Coordinator, we took a few home with us…and were hooked.  We placed our first order with Michelle a few weeks later.

Here’s some more info about her deliciously wonderful business!

How did you get into baking and when did you turn it into a business?

I’ve always had a sweet tooth and have enjoyed baking since I was in high school. I taught myself rudimentary decorating skills by following instructions in the Wilton books. In 2010, after 25 years in the travel industry, I decided to attend culinary school and earned a pastry certificate. I’ve wanted my own business all along and SimplyNakedSweets became a reality in March of this year!

You do so many uniquely decorated items – which ones are your favorite?

My passion is cake decorating so that is my favorite, followed by decorated sugar cookies. I get to express my creativity in a tasty way.

How do you balance keeping your ingredients healthy with making your sweets taste so darn good?

I’m a firm believer that not only does something have to look good (we eat with our eyes first) it has to live up to the expectation that it will taste good. Are sweets healthy? Not really, however, you can certainly eat anything in moderation. Given that, there is a BIG difference in baked goods made with natural and organic ingredients vs. something off the store shelf filled with chemicals and preservatives. My ingredients are recognizable and high quality – simply naked.

You do such a great job sourcing local ingredients – how do you find good local ingredients to use?

We are so fortunate living out here in the Valley. There are an abundance of local farms from which to source local ingredients such as milk, cream, and produce. While ingredients such as cane sugar, chocolate and cocoa powder are not produced locally, we use a local company that works directly with the farmers that grow the sugar cane and cacao. It’s organic, vegan and Fair Trade.

There’s a lot of talk these days on organic vs. conventional – what are your thoughts?

I believe that organic is the way to go. There is so much in the news now about GMO’s and chemicals in our food. There are no GMO’s in organic food and those crops are raised without dangerous pesticides that harm our bodies and our environment. I use organic ingredients whenever possible and choose IPM (Integrated Pest Management) over conventional whenever possible as well.

What’s one interesting/challenging/memorable order you’ve had?

I get a lot of requests from people with dietary issues – sugar free, gluten free, dairy free. We do offer all of those things in various products. The most challenging, I think, is making products that are both gluten free and vegan that don’t suffer in structure and taste. I’ve done a cupcake, a donut and a cookie that are both. The cupcake was a fail – good taste but rubbery. The donut was delicious! The cookie was good also but very dense.

What’s the biggest challenge in running a bakery?

The biggest challenge in running a bakery, for me, is not having a physical retail location. I have a residential kitchen and I think people like to be able to come into a location and see the product. There are also slow periods and business is inconsistent. I try to overcome that by keeping my website up-to-date with new products and pictures and posting to Facebook and Twitter. Word of mouth is the best form of advertising. A happy client will come back again and tell their friends to try us out!

What suggestions do you have for people who are overwhelmed with the delicious options?

If anyone is overwhelmed by the options, I suggest they call me! I’d be happy to talk them through it.

Cupcakes or cakes?
Cake. Definitely cake.
If you find yourself passing through (or living in!) Western MA and you’ve got a sweet tooth, you’d be doing yourself a favor to head over to Simply Naked Sweets and get your order in!

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