How the humble pie became the next level | ET REALITY

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Los Angeles-based baker Michelle Boulos can still picture the cupcakes she ate as a child: smeared with bright white frosting and decorated with tiny plastic balloons. But the sweets that she makes and sells through her Instagram account There are no good cakes They are something completely different. In one recent creation, buttercream embellishments surrounded an acid green ombré surface inspired by a chemical spill. In another, collected flowers sprouted from bronze-colored barnacles, some of them embedded with small bulbs. Boulos, 34, started baking fantastic cakes at his home in 2022 after making one for a wedding. “I was bitten by the sponge cake virus,” he says. “It can be very versatile but also very complex.”

Sheet cakes, which can be made in the giant 18-by-26-inch pans used in commercial kitchens, or in half- or quarter-sheets at home, have long been considered easy-to-lift delicacies intended to feed to the masses, something you pick up at the supermarket on the way to your 7-year-old son’s birthday party. But today, more and more bakers and pastry chefs are embracing its simple geometry as the ideal setting for elaborate and unexpected designs. Last summer, Lucie Franc de Ferriere, the 28-year-old owner of the Manhattan bakery of lucia, paved one with basil buttercream and topped it with puddles of strawberry sumac jam surrounded by chamomile for an event at Catbird Jewelry in Williamsburg. Around the same time in Los Angeles, Rose Wilde, 39, owner of red bread, She made an olive oil version with layers of peaches and satsuma pepper buttercream and Nardello for a Glossier product launch party. Compared to the multi-tiered cakes that have been de rigueur at large events for decades, the humble sheet is “less whimsical, so you have to be a little more creative about how you’re going to infuse your style into it,” says Julie Saha . , a 26-year-old baker and artist from Brooklyn who sells her work through her website, juliemadeyoudinner.com. Her Rococo pastels combine neat, ornate piping with lush, messy clusters of exotic fruit and colorful foliage.

It is difficult to determine the origins of sponge cake as we know it, but by the end of the 19th century, cakes were already being baked in shallow molds that were used to collect fat from meat. According to Anne Byrn, author of “american pie” (2016), the 13-by-9-inch rectangular pans typically used by home bakers today became popular in the 1950s, and their rise coincided with a boom in cake mixes scaled to that size. The current trend for sheet cakes began alongside the rise of Internet-based microbakeries, some of which were operated from home kitchens. The shape makes it easier to deliver and transport, says Noelle Blizzard, 33, who opened her bakery in Philadelphia. new june, from home during the pandemic. Originally, Blizzard, a former marketing manager for the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, leaned toward fresh flowers and soft frosting for a rustic, organic look. He now likes Victorian style garlands and ruffles more. The oversized extension offers “lots of space to display all the different styles of pipes and add a little color,” he says. Sheet cakes “turned out to be an incredible creative outlet.”

But the leaf’s appeal doesn’t end with its ability to function as a “beautiful blank flat canvas,” says Jessamie Holmes, 25, a baker and artist based in Melbourne, Australia, who sells her work through her Facebook account. Instagram. your cake. There is also a nostalgic exuberance to the cake, which has always been made expressly for the kind of large gatherings and celebrations that the world was deprived of during the early years of the pandemic. For a park picnic in 2022, Holmes adapted a Sicilian cassata (traditionally round and filled with ricotta and chocolate) into a low rectangle adorned with sugared nuts and surrounded by candles. Since then, the form has become his favorite. Unlike towering, tiered centerpieces “meant to be the backdrop to a big wedding,” he says, sheet cakes are designed to be devoured with ease. “Anyone,” he adds, “can cut one.”

Set design by Victoria Petro-Conroy. Photography assistant: Bryant Carmona

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