Cake inspired by art is having a moment.
True, it’s never been hard to find ambitious pastry projects on TikTok or Instagram, but these are more often than not confections shaped like familiar objects: a watermelon, a camera, a pot of pasta, a kettle. (All are represented in a single video at Tuba Geckil’s TikTok account, @redrosecake_tubageckil). But there seems to be a new focus in 2022 on cake as objet d’art.
The Blanton Museum of Art in Austin, Texas, for example, recently hosted its Great Blanton Bake-Off; 16 bakers recreated works of art found in the museum’s collection (21,000 works to choose from) in the hopes of winning gift cards from local pastry shops and Blanton membership packages — plus bragging rights, of course.
Blythe Johnson, the winner of the amateur category, re-created Mac Wells’ Untitled piece (see images below). Her cake had layers of blueberry almond sponge, lemon curd and whipped cream, according to Smithsonian Magazine. She made the joconde many times to find the perfect colors to match the artwork — stopping and starting over a two-week period — to complete the cake.
Georgia Chido, a 15-year old who won the under-18 division, reproduced a textile work by Venezuelan artist Luis Montiel (see actual item under the cake version below). She made the fondant on her own and then did all the color-matching to make sure that the cake’s hues were accurate.
The top prize among pro bakers went to Hannah Erwin, founder of HC Confections and a business administration and marketing student at Texas A&M University. Her cakes looked exactly like six different works of art from the Blanton collections — including geometric, abstract and pop-art works (see actual items below at left and cake versions below at right).
When Cake Trompe L’Oeil Exploded
In March of 2022. ArtNet noted that “cakes really took off in July 2020, when Buzzfeed’s “Tasty” account posted a video showcasing the mindboggling sculptural cakes of Turkish baker and self-proclaimed cake artist Tuba Geçkil.”
This apparently kickstarted the meme #everythingiscake, which continues to thrive and has more than 12,000 examples. You might have also noticed that Netflix launched an engaging new show, Is It Cake? in March of this year based on the idea that good bakers can make cake look like anything. That hashtag — #isitcake — also has thousands of examples now.
The New York Times noticed the trend twice in 2021 with articles dedicated to trompe l’oeil cakes and whimsical cakes. Further research, however, confirms that people have been gawking at cakes as art for years, even decades. Bored Panda compiled some noteworthy works of edible art in 2020 and an article in the now-defunct Flavorwire is titled “Amazing Cakes Inspired by Art,” but none of the pictures come through (both their Instagram and website seemed to have come to a halt in 2019).
The blogger-baker-graphic designer at Sweet Fancy Cakes — Kristen from North Salt Lake, Utah — published a post with her rendition of a Mondrian in cake form in 2015 (it’s the Mondrian at the top of the article) but unlike the painting, it probably smelled and tasted as good as it looks. Earlier examples of cakes-that-look-like-art probably stretch all the way back to the 1600s — the era when round cakes were first baked in Europe, according to FoodTimeline.Org. But no one had TikTok back then….
Pinterest Boards of Art as Cake
Of course, there are always Pinterest boards dedicated to the topic as well as Instagram accounts by cake makers who could easily get into the forgery business — like this Russian company (Tortik Annushka) that has over a million followers.
Below are more snapshots of art as cake from Pinterest.
Van Gogh Cake
Gustav Klimt Cake
Andy Warhol Cake
Pablo Picasso Cake
Mona Lisa Cake
Keith Haring Cake
René Magritte Cake
And finally, if you want to see a demonstration of someone making a cake that looks like a painting (and frame!), check out Rosanna Pansino‘s “Cake or Fake / Painting on Cake” video below.