When I was little, the coolest cake to have at any birthday party was a large rectangular cake with an image printed on edible fondant. Typically, the decorators would put a picture of Spider-Man or the birthday boy himself. These cakes were the object of everyone’s attention. Parents spend loads of money on beautiful cakes and continue to because they are the stars of the show! My aunties would hide the cake away in the fridge until it was time to cut it. If not, the little kids would dig their fingers into the side of it and peel into the inside, or steal the edible pearls that ran along the border of the cake (they weren’t always edible). 

For the most part, I loved celebration cakes. As any six-year-old would, I took any excuse to have some extra sugar. As the parties went on with the same boring cake over and over again, I yearned for something new. It was always either a dry vanilla sponge or a not-so-red velvet. Or, worst of all, a dense fruit cake from someone’s wedding. Also, I hated fondant. I thought it was too sweet, the texture too gummy, and each layer so thick it stopped me from getting what I wanted the most: the cake.

Years later and after hours of binging Food Network baking challenges, I have a whole new appreciation for cake decorating. From sugar work that can make transparent edible bubbles to a galaxy mirror glaze made from chocolate and gelatine, I’ve learned there is so much technique and science behind the art of cake decorating. Now that I’ve seen the true craftsmanship that goes into the design of a cake, I have so much respect for the bakers back home who probably didn’t have the technology to roll out their fondant to a perfect eighth of an inch thick.

Cake decorating is an art form and there are hundreds of bakers, pastry chefs, and decorators who are revolutionizing the way we see cakes. These cakes are nothing like the picnic-friendly bento box cakes we thought we could recreate at home. These are in a different league entirely. They combine artistry, physics, and complex elements of design to create brilliant edible works of art. Beyond the viral “Is it cake?” creators or the chocolate guy, Amaury Guichon, the cake world is evolving, becoming just as wonderful to eat as it is to see!

If you don’t believe me, here are five of my favorite cake artists and the masterpieces they create. You decide, is it cake or is it art?

1. Dinara Kasko

Dinara Kasko is a Ukrainian party designer who creates beautiful, almost photo-realistic cakes from silicone molds that she makes herself. Her style weaves bold and precise use of shapes and textures with delicate use of color and tone, often with the help of an airbrush. She is passionate about integrating AI designs into her work – an idea not every baker is excited about – and she often references or replicates the inspiration she gets from those designs. Her company also offers online courses on her famous geometric mousse cakes and offers a range of recipes for free with instructions in English and Ukrainian.

2. Bayou Saint Cake

Bronwen Wyatt is the New Orleans-based baker behind Bayou Saint Cake, a small business that makes specialty cakes. She describes her work as “inventive cakes, sometimes-a-little-weird cakes, squiggly cakes.” Her maximalist approach to design is so appealing as it feels very personal and homey. She almost exclusively uses buttercream with which she creates squiggles, folds, and different textures. She also introduces color from seasonal fresh flowers and fruit which she generously spreads over each cake. What I appreciate about her creativity is not only the design element, but the flavor element. It seems she spends a lot of time developing unique flavor combinations like the cake above, which features “devil’s food with fig leaf custard, bittersweet chocolate mousse, and espresso, coconut sugar buttercream.” Who would have thought to put figs and coffee together? I certainly wouldn’t, but it sounds delectable.

3. Tortika Annushka

Tortika Annushka is a cake studio and design school in Moscow founded by Rustam Kungurov and Madina Yavorskaya. With their backgrounds in architecture and fine arts, these siblings have taken the pastry world by storm. They have created cakes for major fashion brands and draw their inspiration from all kinds of artists. Their innovative style is captivating. The combination of geometric shapes, rich dark color palettes, and metallic finishes come together to create a futuristic feel that is a signature of their style.

4. MigaIha Doce

MigaIha Doce is a bespoke wedding designer based in Barreiro, Portugal. She tailors her cakes to what she calls the “modern couple” and her online presence reflects those exact feelings of youth and innocence. Her neutral, almost monochromatic palette emphasizes the subtle varieties of texture and form while maintaining a soft flair that keeps it minimalistic and understated. Her use of ruffles, waves, and folds creates dramatic and elegant movement in every design. The magically light drapery, the feather-like toppers, and the spattered texture are all part of her distinct style. Her work is impressive beyond the fact that she is entirely self-trained.

5. Bushel and Peck

Of course, I had to include a Gainesville favorite. Bushel and Peck is a micro-bakery that was started in September 2022 by Peyton Agliata who has over 10 years of experience in the industry. Her cakes are whimsical fruit-forward, similar to Wyatt’s style. Better yet, she also offers “gluten-free, nut-free, vegan, and other allergen-friendly options” to her clients. On her Instagram, you can truly see the explosion of her growth and development in style, confidence, and creativity. I’m excited to see how B&P grows. You can find her and her pretzel filled stand at the Grove Street Farmers Market every Monday.

So, I think we can all agree, these are cake and art.