But amongst the sponge and buttercream there’s a new breed of cake-maestro, darkening those oh-so cute shades and making cakes less sugar and spice and more adult and arty.
Angela Newman has just bagged £100 grand on Dragons Den for her Vintage Patisserie, shoe designer Patrick Cox is launching Cox, Cookies and Cupcakes and Emmylou Cakehead of the wonderfully named Cakehead Loves Evil is teaming up with Tate and Lyle and cake-maker Lili Vanilli to take a cake tree on a UK tour, Cake Britain, culminating with the Mad Artists Tea Party, where artists will create edible works out of cake. We caught up with her, and chatted baking, cake trends and The Magic Faraway Tree.
How did you come up with the idea for cakes as works of art?
I had a peace tree at Bestival, where people could make a wish and hang it on there. I thought it would be great to do the same thing with cake, but have artists make works of art out of cakes. And then the more artists I spoke to, the more they liked it. I can’t bake though, ironically!
But you clearly love cake…
….It fascinates me. Everyone loves cake, you can’t be offended by it. It’s rare to find someone who doesn’t like cake, and, even if they don’t eat it I’ve never known anyone who objects to it.
So much so that cupcakes are everywhere.
Five years ago cupcakes became trendy but I think some of them are old hat now. If you want different it’s no longer a cupcake.
What is it, then?
Cakes as lollipops, mini big cakes with retro, traditional coverings, mini layered cakes.
Like Victoria Sponge?
OK, tell us about the crazy- sounding Mad Artists Tea Party.
It’s a three day exhibition. We’ve paired up artists such as Stuart Semple and George Morton Clark with cakists including Crumbs and Doilies and Bea’s of Bloomsbury : the artist comes up with the concept and the cakist makes it. The theme is ‘fair’, linking in with the fairtrade sugar by Tate and Lyle, the sponsors. All the cakes are made fresh for the event, and they’re all meant to be eaten.
You basically eat your way around the exhibition?
Cake exists to be eaten. And that’s why it’s been so appealing to the artists. At usual private shows it’s always about how much the art is, and what the artist can make. But here the artists have done it for nothing. All the pieces are up for auction ( the buyer can have the cake they choose made once more for them ) but the proceeds go to charity. It’s open to everyone.
Will there be cups of tea to wash it all down?
Yes, tea, an indoor picnic, Bugsy Malone splurge guns!
And what’s your tour, Cake Britain, all about?
It’s an inter-active art installation that allows children to literally ‘pick’ their own cupcakes off the tree, like The Magic Faraway Tree ( the series of children’s books by Enid Blyton) as the cupcake tree will never ‘grow’ the same cakes twice.
Is that why we love cake? Because it reminds us of the innocence of our childhoods?
It does link back to childhood, it’s a nice escapism and helps us to disengage with reality.
And it opens new possibilities for art.
I think that’s important. No-one’s really made art with cake. We can push the boundaries. It throws up questions such as how do you value a cake? We may never find the answer.
The Mad Artists Tea Party, The Future Gallery, 5 Great Newport Street, London, WC2H 7HY, 27th – 29th August