I’ve baked more and more over the years, but never so much as during the pandemic. Suddenly, an occasional hobby became a bit of an obsession — for me and the people around me. 

In previous years, I would bake for holidays, dessert auctions and birthdays. I loved experimenting with flavors and making them beautiful, but the decor was pretty traditional, or perhaps modern-rustic — a popular trend. 

The first really out-there cake was the trash bear. I suppose I had been aware of sculpted cakes for some time, but had never tried it. I was also growing more aware of modern, creative techniques and aesthetics in baking. This cake combined both, with cake sculpting, fondant and use of the grass tip. The trash bear was a hit.

Sculpted trash bear cake

I made more creative cakes, like a mountain with trail for the Trail Mix fundraiser or an emoji cake and cupcakes, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that I found niche — buttercream painting. 

It was for the Girl Scouts auction. I drew inspiration from artist Ashley Mary, who makes beautiful paintings and collages with organic shapes, bold colors and swatches of pattern. I used my small offset spatula to paint on the buttercream frosting and bright pink ganache. It was fun and exciting and, thankfully, well-received. 

Abstract buttercream painted cake

When COVID hit in March, the occasions to bake strangely increased and the distraction was welcome. I bought 4″ cake pans from Gourmet Alaska and started baking small, artistic cakes for individuals, couples and small families. Sometimes they were for birthdays or anniversaries, but sometimes they were just for fun. We all needed to find a little joy. 

And that’s how I somehow ended up baking, on average, four or five cakes a week. Is it a hobby? An obsession? A side side hustle (yes, two sides, because there’s already a side hustle)? 

With working from home and limited socializing, why not bake?

Abstract buttercream painted cakes