Cake

Let ’em eat cake (wacky, fancy)

Let 'em eat cake (wacky, fancy)

Adorned with dried Queen Anne lace, red clover flowers, bolted callaloo, dried onion blossoms, fresh thyme and a fresh cabbage rose on top, the cake baker Aimee France baked for a recent wedding at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park looked like it could have been decorated with the flora she found while carrying it there.

The olive oil cake, topped with cardamom whipped cream and lemon jam, bergamot leaves and blackberries, was frosted in a brown butter prosecco buttercream in the characteristic style from Mme France: loose, lumpy and incredibly flawed. It was a look, she said, that was inspired by wedding flowers and colors. But, like most of his confections, the cake was perhaps more influenced by his artistic mood.

“Honestly, that week I was on a big ‘Phantom of the Opera’ kick,” she said.

Based in Bushwick, Brooklyn, Ms. France, 22, started her baking business in August 2020 and cites opera and ballet music and costumes as frequent inspirations. She often decorates her cakes with wreaths of dried herbs she harvests in her home state of New Hampshire, and intentionally arranges some askew so they tilt like a frosted Tower of Pisa.

“People want to separate themselves from this kind of perfectionist, immaculate marriage,” said Billie Belo, 38, who founded the Manhattan-based company. Cakes without occasion in July 2019. “A cake isn’t mandatory anymore, so if they’re going to have a cake on display, it’s like, how can we play with that?” She made shiny, gloopy and frosted wedding cakes with a Jackson Pollock-esque technique. “I’m just going to slap the frosting on the cake and it’s going to splatter over there,” she said.

Ms. Belo is one of many bakers who achieve an unconventional look by brushing their cakes with icing so colorful it practically glows. Chicago artist Hyun Jung Jun, 32, takes a naturalistic approach, tinting his glaze with turmeric, beetroot and butterfly pea powders. Self-taught baker, she created an Instagram account, Dream Cake Test Kitchenin June 2020 to show off her work and now receives dozens of orders a month, she said.

Madeline Bach, 26, a Manhattan-based baker also known as Frosted Hag, instead saves AmeriColor food coloring, which she uses to saturate buttercream in deep tones of lapis lazuli and d burnt orange. Whether natural or artificially colored, these cakes make the so-called naked minimalists that have proliferated in recent years look, well, naked.

“A phrase I’ve said over and over again is, why make a simple cake when you can drive it crazy?” said Ms Bach, who started baking in August 2020 and has baked cakes for downtown newspaper The Drunken Canal (a frosted vanilla cake with mounds of forest green and lavender buttercream, topped with cherries sprinkles) and the New York Times Section Styles (vanilla cake with blood orange filling, topped with lemon Swiss meringue buttercream, blood orange slices, chrysanthemum blossoms, sugar pearls and dried gypsophila).

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Sam Raye Hoecherl, 31, who started his Brooklyn-based business The cooking of Gemini in August 2019, said his use of icing was inspired by the Wilton School, a cake decorating movement dating back to 1929 known for its intricate piping styles.

Admittedly neater than other bakers’ frosting application, Ms. Hoecherl’s cake piping, which she also decorates with maraschino cherries, golden hearts and sugar pearls, is almost perversely perfect. “I really hate it when people say they’re clairvoyant, but I understand when they do,” she said.

The aesthetic lends itself well to nostalgia. “I had a client who wanted a cake that looked like her parents’ 70s wedding cake,” added Ms. Hoecherl, who said she planned to shift her focus from making party cakes to confectioners. used as props in photo shoots.

Also a bit nostalgic are the wriggling cakes. Jell-O, the division base of the 1950s asps, has made an unlikely comeback. “I certainly didn’t expect jelly cakes to make such a comeback,” said Lexie Park, 32, a baker who specializes in suspending objects in her jelly-based confections. “People have asked me to put a picture of them in the jelly,” she said.

Ms Park, who is based in Los Angeles, launched her company Nunchi in July 2019, and said she now bakes around 300 cakes a month for celebrations such as birthdays, baby showers and even bachelorette parties. “I once had an order for a bachelorette in Palm Springs where they asked for the bridesmaid shapes in the cake,” she said. (She ended up baking a palm-themed cake instead.) Ms. Park also baked a cake that appeared on the back cover of Olivia Rodrigo’s “Sour” album.

For Jena Derman, 37, Jack Schramm, 30, and Coco Lim Haas, 30, who together run Solid Wiggles, a Brooklyn-based company specializing in jelly cakes, the possibilities of gelatin lie in the shape and flavor. For example, Solid Wiggles makes a cake called Boozy Cosmos which Schramm says “tastes like a cosmopolitan, but looks like outer space” due to its teal, pink and yellow jelly swirls. on a black base. .

Infused with vodka, the cake can also be miniaturized in the form of shots. (Mr. Schramm said he recently delivered 100 shots of Boozy Cosmos cake at a wedding at the Metropolitan Club in Manhattan.) cakes and between 300 and 400 jelly shots a month, he said.

Like Ms. Jun, many of these unconventional bakers, including Ms. Belo and Ms. France, are self-taught. But the self-made nature of their businesses doesn’t necessarily mean lower prices. Ms. Belo’s price starts at $500 for a cake that serves 30 to 40 people; Madame France’s cakes start between $160 and $200 for 10 to 12.

“Hazelnuts, pistachios, macadamia nuts and spices like cardamom are all quite expensive,” Ms. France said. “I try to source most of my ingredients from local farmers or small businesses like me, so I’ll pay a premium price to get a really good spice.”

Buttercream or Jell-O, neo-Wilton or naturalist, these oversized cakes, like all (real) pastries, have the same destiny: to be eaten. Or, mostly eaten. “Someone once asked for their partner’s hairbrush hanging in a Jell-o cake,” said Abbie Thigpen, 26, who started baking in March 2019 and splits her time between California and Asheville. , North Carolina.

Ms Thigpen, who has baked cakes for events in Austin, Asheville, New York and Philadelphia, added: “I believe this one was for a birthday.”