Sexy Cake and Fake Cake
Peek inside the process of making faux cakes with Amy S (a.k.a. @friendsofmonami)
Dear cake lovers everywhere,
We decided to fully embody the phrase “new year, new me” by announcing a pitch call for Humble Pie, our first zine to shift away from cake. (Submissions are open until 1/13!) But before entirely replacing our butter cream and sponge cake with fruit filling and lattice crust, at least for a little while, we have an announcement:
We’re thrilled to share that our sold-out first issue, Sexy Cake, is now available as a digital PDF for readers everywhere. Buy it here, then read it anytime and anywhere, preferably while eating cake.
Now back to the other kind of good stuff. We asked artist and designer Amy S. to kick off a new year of Just a Bite interviews. We’re used to our desserts being edible with layers of buttercream, but Amy’s are strictly for the eyes and hands only. As you scroll through her website, you’ll find yourself fully immersed in colorfully frosted, non-edible delights like mirrors, tissue boxes, purses, and decor pieces. Read on to learn about the process of making her creations, her favorite choux pastry recipe, and more.
You’re making dessert. What is it?
A very mini croquembouche, each profiterole filled with malted vanilla pastry cream. It's a labor of love, but it's so worth it in my opinion. The recipe I use for choux pastry and caramel comes from "The Art of French Pastry" by Jacquy Pfeiffer, and the same for the pastry cream but with the addition of malted milk powder (heaps, I'm a big fan of malty things).
Someone is making you a dessert. What do you ask for?
Cheesecake because I just can't handle the stress and anxiety that comes with making one.
You’ve transformed into a pastry. What are you and how are you consumed?
Pecan tart topped with vanilla ice cream topped with malted custard.
What fictional dessert scene will you never forget?
All of Wayne Thiebaud's dessert paintings.
What is a baking hack you can’t live without?
When baking sourdough bread. I preheat my oven with my Dutch oven inside. A cold Dutch oven will bring down the overall oven temperature, and you'll never know if you could've gotten more oven spring on your loaf.
Can you walk us through the process of making a cake sculpture?
I usually start out by picking out the object to be turned into cake (box, flower vase, purse, etc) and deciding on the general color story and theme of the piece. I hate interruptions when I'm working so I'll mix all my colors and lay out the piping tips I'm most likely to use before starting. Then I'll make sure my cats have food and water so they don't bother me when I'm caking, then I find a nice long YouTube video to watch (usually some kind of social commentary or video essay), block out the rest of the world, and go to town on my cake sculpture.
I rarely ever have pre-planned designs for my cake sculptures, I prefer to find the piece/design as I go. Deciding when the sculpture is finished is the most difficult part for me, but I usually wait for a general feeling of satisfaction before deciding to put down the pastry bag.
What’s the inedible ingredient you most want to eat?
The faux whipped cream and cherries. I love cherries and the fake ones look really nice and shiny.
Follow Amy on Instagram: @friendsofmonami
Cake cultural ephemera to consume right now:
Watch: The perils of sending bakery reference photos for custom cakes.
Covet: Italian artist Luigi Benedicenti’s photo-realistic oil paintings of sweet treats are highly craveable.