A baker makes cakes that look like everything from food to TV characters, and the realistic creations will make you do a double take

Sideserf Cake StudioBust cakes such as this one of ‘The Office’s’ Michael Scott weren’t really a thing before Sideserf.
  • 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!”
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Natalie Sideserf’s cakes are literal works of art – and that’s not surprising considering that she started her career as a sculptor with a bachelor’s degree in fine art.

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.

Sideserf Cake StudioThe cow-skull cake launched her foray into baking.

“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.

Sideserf Cake StudioShe says that dog cakes are the most common order she gets, though she rarely makes the same cake twice.

In 2011, she moved from Cleveland, Ohio, where she’s from, to Austin, Texas, with her now-husband and business partner, Dave Sideserf.

Sideserf Cake StudioBust cakes weren’t really a thing when she started making them.

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.

Sideserf Cake StudioShe calls her fruit and vegetable cakes ‘still life cakes.’

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).

Sideserf Cake StudioHer Willie Nelson cake went viral on Reddit.

“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.”

Sideserf Cake StudioMany of her cakes look like other food items, like this mac and cheese.

She’s also been working to perfect her cake recipes and textures, which vary depending on what kind of cake she’s making.

Sideserf Cake StudioThis bull cake looks incredibly real.

“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.”

Sideserf Cake StudioWhoever bites into this chicken sandwich will have a sweet surprise.

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.

Sideserf Cake StudioThe bust cake of Michael Scott from ‘The Office’ is one of her favourites to date.

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.

Sideserf Cake StudioShe says dog cakes make some people uncomfortable.

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.

Sideserf Cake StudioA new take on a lemon cake.

For bust cakes, she’ll gather images of the person from every angle possible. She uses modelling chocolate and hand-paints cakes.

Sideserf Cake StudioThis Yoda cake has a full body attached.

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.

Sideserf Cake StudioShe says these banana cakes will take her around two hours.

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.

Sideserf Cake StudioShe experiments with all sorts of different materials to make her cakes look so real.

She says the hardest thing about making these cakes is getting the proportions right, as well as working with temperature-sensitive materials.

Sideserf Cake StudioShe uses different recipes to create different cake textures, depending on what she’s making.

“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.”

Sideserf Cake StudioEven the pickle juice looks real.

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.

Sideserf Cake StudioShe uses wafer paper for the incredibly real-looking onion skin.

She also researches the methods special effects makeup artists use, like for her Freddy Kruger bust cake.

Sideserf Cake StudioShe said she had a lot of fun creating the different textures for Kruger’s skin, sweater, and hat.

“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.”

Sideserf Cake StudioShe says it takes time to get used to working with the materials.

“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.”

Sideserf Cake StudioShe likes to use gelatin in her cakes, which she says also tastes good.

“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.”

Sideserf Cake StudioBust cakes can take her around 40 hours to make.

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