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  • Writer's picturePrimavera Dreams

Cake Masterpieces & the Artist Behind Them

This post is dedicated to an incredibly talented cake artist, Julie Simon, the owner of Julie Simon Cakes in LA.

Modern couples tend to prioritize creating unique and memorable experiences for their guests. If you’re looking for a way to add a ‘wow factor’ to your wedding, look no further: what could be better than featuring an unbelievable cake that resembles a famous painting or a stunning bouquet?

Can you believe that these exquisite flowers aren’t real?

Probably not. Until they melt in your mouth and you’re blown away by their divine taste.

Julie’s creations remind me not only of paintings but also of the Faberge’s famous ornate eggs and floral arrangements made of enamel, precious metals and stones. Each is unique and absolutely breathtaking.

©2011, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II

Let’s hear from Julie herself!

Please introduce yourself!

My name is Julie Simon. I started doing sugar work over 20 years ago as a hobby and fell in love with while I was pursuing an executive career in digital media. I left the corporate world a few years ago to pursue my artistic endeavors full time and founded Julie Simon Cakes in 2018.

What are the current trends in the wedding cake industry? 

I honestly don’t really look at wedding cake trends. If anything, I tend to look at trends from the floral industry as I feel the top florists tend to be way ahead of the curve. I especially love Eric Buterbaugh and Kiana Underwood. There are cake artists I adore - like Jasmine Rae and Maggie Austin and Hong Kong artist Alice Chow - but the ones I love best all tend to do their own thing and keep exploring new boundaries. I personally get most inspired by challenging myself to do new things and do them differently. The brides that come to me tend to be the ones who want to break the mold.

Do you have a preferred cake style?

I’m definitely all about lush, rich, textured - even Rococo designs. It’s hard for me to hold back. Sometimes I get commissioned to do more minimalist cakes - that’s a challenge for me! Most sugar artists make extra flowers to account for breakage - I almost always wind up using everything because I like to go over the top. 

What is the most important consideration for a couple when choosing a cake?

It’s got to be something that speaks to them - something they love. I like to ask a lot of questions when I speak to the couple. I ask them about colors - but also about favorite books, places they’ve traveled, favorite pieces of art. I like to incorporate as much about them as possible that’s really unique. I will often put special touches in that perhaps only they can see - or that you have to really search for. For instance, one bride shared a photo of porcelain lovebirds which I recreated in sugar and tucked into a little vignette on the side of a large, enchanted garden cake. On a huge, black and gold gothic wedding cake I carved a special message to the couple into a sugar tree trunk.

Many of your cakes look like a piece of art, reminding me of Dutch and French paintings. What do you consider as some of your biggest artistic influences?

Thank you! I’m known for painterly cakes in the style of the Dutch Masters. I just did a huge floral cake after a painting by Jan van Huysum. And I’m very inspired by Chagall, and Klimt. I was incredibly honored to do a cake recently for William Vincent Van Gogh - great grand nephew of the master himself, and director of the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam! I based it on one of Van Gogh’s extraordinary paintings of irises and I was so nervous to present it! He couldn’t have been a more lovely and gracious host.

What inspires you to create new designs? 

I get very inspired when I talk with a client and I get a feel for that one special element that they describe that lights their eyes up. Maybe it’s a photograph that their mother took that they want to incorporate somehow. Maybe its a special theme or place they’ve been to. It’s hard to describe, but there’s usually a moment when something clicks for me and I just start creating in my mind. I feel like I tune in to what my client is most dreaming of, and I get some crazy, cool idea of how I might be able to make it come to life in a way they never thought of!

Can you name a few décor elements you love to incorporate into your designs?

I often incorporate bas relief because it looks beautiful and it lends itself to cake design so well. I do a lot of painting as well. Most often the flower arrangement is the most important part of my cake design, so the surface decoration is a supporting element. As far as the flower arrangement goes, I like to push the limit of what should be possible - how big, how grand, how gravity-defying I can go. The other thing I’m known for is mechanical, dynamic elements - like working sugar carousels and fountains. I’m definitely a right brain/left brain kind of girl. I like to “tinker” with things and figure out how to make the most magical, wow-factor cake I can. I call it “experiential confectionary”(!)

What is your favorite kind of cake to make?

Hands down: chocolate blackout cake with silken hazelnut praline buttercream and chocolate ganache. It’s soooooo good. It’s good right out of the fridge, at room temp, and (of course), with warm Frangelico-spiked chocolate sauce poured on top. SIGH

Taste vs design & presentation: which is more important?

Oooooh. This is such a sensitive topic. Everyone expects wedding cakes to taste “blah” at best. Honestly - my cakes are DELICIOUS if I do say so myself. I started baking when I was about 5 and desserts were my obsession. I didn’t start cake decorating until I was in my 20’s, although I did art of many other forms. So I think it’s critical that the cake tastes great. If I HAD to pick, I guess I would say looks are the most important for a wedding cake, because the couple often is too overwhelmed to really taste anything, and what they will most remember are the photographs, LOL. But I would be mortified to serve a cake that wasn’t delicious. I spend an enormous amount of time testing recipes and I’ve honed my repertoire down very carefully. What a lot of people don’t realize when they do cake tastings is that when a big wedding cake is made, that cake has gone back and forth into the freezer several times in the final 24-48 hours before the big day. A lot of cakes can get very dried out in the process. My cakes are incredibly moist and they stay moist! And I also play with a lot of wonderful flavor profiles - like lemon curd buttercream with roasted strawberry jam, passionfruit, and salted bourbon caramel.

Photo credit: Julie Simon and Deborah Jaffe


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