- Natalie Sideserf started working with cake at a friend’s behest and felt like she was really onto something.
- No one was doing bust cakes or hyperrealistic cakes at the time.
- After a cake she made in the likeness of Willie Nelson went viral, she opened up Sideserf Cake Studio in Austin, Texas, and has been whipping up eerily realistic cakes ever since.
- Her work has garnered her a show on Food Network, and guest appearances on baking competitions like “Chopped Desserts!” and “Nailed It!”
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She started working with cake only after a friend requested a cow-skull cake for her birthday, saying that it would be just like sculpting.
Sideserf had so much fun making that cake, and got so much positive feedback on it, that she decided to keep working with dessert.
“There are so many different ways to replicate fine art in edible ways,” she told Insider.
Today, she runs Sideserf Cake Studio with her husband, had her own two-season show with him on Food Network, called “Texas Cake House,” and has been a guest judge on competitions like “Chopped Desserts!” and “Nailed It!”
Keep scrolling to see more of Sideserf’s hyperrealistic cakes and to learn more about her work.
After making that first cow-skull birthday cake for a friend, Natalie Sideserf said she knew she was onto something.
“I feel like a lot of cakes at the time were a little bit more cartoony, typically, and I wanted to do more realistic take on it,” she said.
In 2011, she moved from Cleveland, Ohio, where she’s from, to Austin, Texas, with her now-husband and business partner, Dave Sideserf.
Since she had the sculpting part down pat, she started working in a small bakery to perfect her skills in the kitchen. “I had no idea how to bake,” she admitted.
In 2012, she entered a local baking competition with a bust cake of Willie Nelson, which ended up going viral on Reddit (and winning the Best of Show award).
“It reached millions of people and I thought, ‘I’m really onto something,'” she said, adding that that’s when she started her business. “I have been trying my hardest to make cakes look as realistic as possible since then.”
She’s also been working to perfect her cake recipes and textures, which vary depending on what kind of cake she’s making.
“It’s super important for us to make sure that our cakes taste as good as they look,” she said. “I feel like I’d be wasting my time putting in that amount of effort to make them look cool if they didn’t taste good.”
She’s done everything from cakes that look like fruits and vegetables, which she calls her “still life cakes,” to busts of famous TV characters.
She says she rarely makes the same cake twice, and that the most frequent order she gets from clients is to make cakes that resemble their dogs.
She usually creates a “cake blueprint” that involves researching her subject and sketching out her design before she starts building a structure to hold the cake.
For bust cakes, she’ll gather images of the person from every angle possible. She uses modelling chocolate and hand-paints cakes.
She says that some cakes, like a banana, will only take her two hours, but that some of the more involved ones can take a full 40-hour workweek.
While the cost depends on the design, sculpted cakes start at $US500, bust cakes start at $US2,500, and larger cakes can cost upwards of $US5,000.
She says the hardest thing about making these cakes is getting the proportions right, as well as working with temperature-sensitive materials.
“I always treated cake like I did any other new art medium that I’m learning,” she said. “You have to teach yourself how to use materials, get hands-on, experiment, and try new things.”
She says she tries different materials until she finds just the right one to look realistic. Her onion skin made out of wafer paper is a prime example.
She also researches the methods special effects makeup artists use, like for her Freddy Kruger bust cake.
“The thing about making cakes like this is it takes a lot of practice,” she said. “I have been aggressively making sculpted cakes for about eight years straight — it’s not something that you just learn overnight.”
“One of my favourite things about making these cakes is that they’re unique and they’re a little bit shocking sometimes,” she said. “That’s the fun of it.”
“I like the reactions,” she said. “Some people love them and some people hate them and everywhere in between. If everybody just loved everything I made, I’d feel like I’m doing something wrong.”
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