A hot dog in a soft bun sits on the kitchen counter, slathered in just the right amount of ketchup and mustard. But your eyes deceive you as a knife cuts through him and his true identity is revealed.
Because it’s not a savory treat, it’s actually a chocolate ganache and buttercream cake created by a Chester-based pastry artist. Ben Cullen, has amassed 300,000 Instagram followers who love being tricked by his designs.
“I love the idea of trying to fool people and making sculptures out of my cakes,” says Ben, 31. “For me, it’s about knowing how far you can go. How realistic and non-cake-like objects you can create. I’m obsessed with it,” he said. Told the mirror.
Illusion cakes have become a huge trend, recently even more so due to the popularity of the Netflix game show Is It Cake? which gained 26 million viewership figures in just one week last month. The show sees bakers create cakes that replicate common objects, from handbags to beach balls, in a bid to trick celebrity judges into winning a cash prize of £3,850.
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And more recently, a link between Sainsbury’s and the Great British Bake Off produced a series of adverts asking viewers to guess whether foods such as a loaf of crusty bread or a steak were “cake or not cake?” – which were designed by Ben.
What makes Ben’s cakes, which take an average of three days to create, even more impressive is the fact that he’s been baking for a relatively short time. He made his first illusion cake – a watermelon made from a pink sponge with chocolate chips inside – in 2016.
He says, “Pastry isn’t something I’ve done all my life and I wasn’t interested in it at all when I was younger. It was a somewhat surprising career choice for me.
“But I always wanted to be an artist – and when I saw that it was possible to make art out of cakes, I immediately started doing it.
“From the moment I got started, I couldn’t stop baking the cakes. But it involved trial and error and lots of practice along the way to get it right.
Along with his extensive social media coverage, Ben’s designs have also caught the attention of celebrity fans. He has baked cakes for the likes of Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp, UFC fighter Conor McGregor and singer Rita Ora.
The cost of Ben’s creations vary depending on the time to make and the size – but he says they can reach £50,000. In the past, he even created Jackie Weaver out of cake.
And he has big plans for the future. “I would love to have my own TV show one day,” says Ben. “I would also like to go further in my creations. My biggest goal would be to make a house made entirely of cake, where everything inside would be edible.
Here, Ben reveals the secrets behind some of his jaw-dropping creations…
*To see more of Ben’s cakes, visit instagram.com/the_bakeking
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