2020 has brought about a whole slew of food trends, one of the more baffling being the ‘everything is cake’ meme. With more people using their newfound time at home to reacquaint with their ovens, a rise in baking trends isn’t very surprising.
Apart from messing up my kitchen, I also spent a lot of time browsing home baking businesses on Instagram over the past few months. Every day would bring me to a new baked good—banana bread, cookies, cakes, babkas, muffins, sourdough—name one and Instagram would suggest five more.
I ended up burning too large of a hole in my wallet and too little of my calories, so I had to find an alternative form of entertainment. Instead of browsing home bakeries that were all too accessible in a few taps, I took to scrolling longingly through overseas-based baking accounts.
I’m glad I did that because, in the process, I found a whole group of bakers that have turned baking into visual art. Of course, that’s also how I discovered the trippy world of ‘everything is cake’, which I’ll get to later.
When I say visual art, I’m not talking about the usual plating and embellishment of baked goods. These bakers are artists that turn their baked goods into canvases for visual art pieces. I’d like to share them with you.
Bread Too Cute to Eat
First up, we have Ran from Japan, also known by her handle @konel_bread on Instagram.
Ran is distinctive for her keen attention to detail in her bread designs. She crafts loaves that depict popular cute characters like Totoro, Pokemon and Spongebob. Her other inspirations come from her son’s drawings and the scenes of nature that she sees around her every day.
Her bread loaves always contain a delightful surprise when sliced open to reveal their designs in the cross-sections. With innovative use of dyes, rolling techniques and composition, her colourful bread renditions are adorably accurate to their inspirations.
Some of her more elaborate creations even feature buns within loaves. When you slice a loaf open, it reveals miniature buns intricately designed to the shape of characters. Her themes and designs are well thought out, creating cohesion and harmony in her baked creations.
Most of her work undergo the process of making dough, dyeing it, rolling it out, building the designs and shapes before they go into the oven to bake. She usually works with a vague idea in mind. Like most bakers, she doesn’t know exactly what to expect with the final outcome until she slices it open.
Ran started baking after she got pregnant and quit her job. She says “I started baking because I wanted to nourish myself with something good for my body”, and so arose her homemade loaves with their beautiful designs.
Another fascinating creation of hers is a strawberry cake bread, which resembles a strawberry cake with icing, sponge and strawberries. The entire cake, however, is made of bread.
Find out more about Ran on her IGTV here.
On the flip side, we also have the ‘everything is cake’ meme that proliferated across the Internet recently. This brings us to our next feature, Turkish food artist Tuba Geckil.
Also known as @redrosecake_tubageckil on Instagram, Geckil creates cakes that resemble other foods, objects and even people. Her hyper-realistic cake designs fool you into believing her cakes are really their likenesses.
Maybe you’re not fazed by non-cake foods turning out to be cake. Maybe you’ve seen many other quaint food creations.
However, cakes posing as inanimate objects can surely cause you some visual dissonance.
What appears to be an innocuous takeaway cup of Starbucks turns out to be cake, drink and all. I was gawking when the seemingly fibrous paper cup turned out to be edible.
Would we dare to eat them, though?
Video clips of her cutting into seemingly solid objects to reveal spongey, chocolatey cross-sections made waves across the Internet, sparking the ‘everything is cake’ meme.
I must admit, I find her cake illusions extremely trippy and disconcerting. It’s amazing how people can’t get enough of the illusions, no matter how much the hyperreal messes with their minds. Understandably, the sentiment of disbelief associated with the ‘everything is cake’ meme expresses the general awe at her immaculate skill.
Geckil really challenges the boundaries between art and imitation with her work, changing how we view reality.
I’ve never personally been a big fan of elaborate cakes. I like them simple so that I can tuck in quickly without feeling bad about ruining an elaborate design. But Geckil’s creations are something else to behold. The amount of effort and precision put into imitating another object is astounding.
I’m not a baker, but I’d guess that her cakes all undergo the painstaking process of moulding sponge cakes into their shapes, coating them with fondant, colouring and painting, and finishing with texture. There’s probably a whole lot more that I don’t know about.
Either way, I’m not sure if I’d have the heart to cut through her carefully constructed designs. I wouldn’t know where to start!
Sourdough with Cottagecore Vibes
My last find is @blondieandrye, a beautiful Instagram feed by Hannah Page from North Carolina. Page turns sourdough loaves into vibrant works of art with her creative use of vegetables, herbs and scoring techniques.
The results are colourful and intricate designs that fuse the whimsical with nature.
Scoring, which involves using a blade to make decorative cuts in the dough before rising and baking, creates loaves with detailed patterns.
When the bread comes out of the oven, the cuts show up on the crust as leaves, flowers and any other pattern the baker has envisioned.
Page even goes the extra mile with taro powder to give her bread designs an additional pop of colour that is so pleasing to the eyes.
Even when she adds colour to it, the food retains a natural aesthetic.
What makes Hannah Page’s creations so unique is that she works with a combination of skill and improvisation. With her near six years of experience baking bread, she has acquired enough knowledge of the ingredients and process behind making bread to innovate.
Now, she does not strictly follow recipes (nor writes them down!) but instead adapts her decisions as she goes. This truly turns baking into art, when she responds to what she sees and experiments to make unique products each time she bakes.
In this ingenious creation, she wraps fresh broccolini and assorted peppers in dough that comes out in what she calls a ‘veggie cornucopia’.
She really evokes nature with the luscious colours and textures from the vegetables. Her faithful conformity to a natural style distinguishes her from other artists. Despite her skills and experience, she does not have any plans to pursue a career in baking.
Baking has always been a respected profession, but these artists really reimagine and reiterate what it means as visual art. Bakers are just like painters and sculptors, using flour, sugar, and eggs as some their many mediums. Not all of them even monetise their art, simply opting to explore it for the sake of passion.