“Layered sponge is essentially the medium with which I create my art,” says cake maker Sebastian Davies, of Sebastian Wild Cakes, whose bespoke sculptural, hyper-realistic creations resemble everything from Chanel handbags to first edition tomes. The former international head of 19th-century furniture, sculpture and decorative arts at Christie’s first turned his hand to baking five years ago when he offered to make a cake for Red Wing Shoes resembling its iconic leather boots. It took four days, but the reaction was phenomenal.
“I had hit on something that I didn’t know I could do,” says Davies, who has since made bespoke cakes (£300 to over £5,000) for film stars and royalty. Recent commissions have included sparkling geodes for Kelly Hoppen, a made-to-scale Aston Martin DB5 for Robert Downey Jr and individual miniature cherry-blossom trees at Mayfair hotspot Sexy Fish. “My work at Christie’s has really helped me to make these types of cakes,” adds Davies. “I was examining objects every day, looking for quality, defects, the tiniest details” – and it is these details that make his cakes look so real, from the texture to the faux signs of wear and tear.
The solo baker works in London’s Little Venice and requires a minimum lead time of two weeks for a bespoke order. While some clients are very exacting in what they want, Davies can also suggest compositions. In terms of taste, he sticks to just two flavours – vanilla or chocolate, with individual layers filled with Swiss meringue buttercream. It is then carved to shape and coated with chocolate ganache for a firm exterior, with the fondant on top becoming his canvas – handpainted, airbrushed and manipulated. It is time-consuming work – just one flower on one orchid stem takes around 45 minutes – and his aim is always that his cakes do not look like cakes. “It’s the act of surprising someone that I love” – and it’s the discovery that his detailed works are, in fact, edible and made from humble, fragile sponge that gives them the wow factor. “Most people think it won’t taste like cake, but they usually say, ‘It tastes amazing.’”