Cake Decorating A Growing Art Form

A decade or two ago, it would have been hard to imagine the numerous pastry shops Addis Ababa has now. As the nation’s economy grows and household income goes up, people’s needs are changing as well. In the past few years, bakeries that used to offer just a loaf of bread are transforming into pastry shops, selling cakes in all shapes and sizes. Along with this slowly growing business, we’ve seen the emergence of the art of cake decorating. In this article, EBR’s Tirualem Asmare looks into the growing, creative art of cake decorating.

Bakeries can be found practically anywhere in Addis Ababa due to the city’s expanding population and subsequent growth in demand. With their introduction to the shelves of bakery shops, many Ethiopians are getting a taste of these decorated cakes. Decorated cakes are becoming increasingly common at occasions like wedding ceremonies, baby showers, and bridal showers. Customers are able to get cakes decorated in various designs, according to their preferences and the occasion.

As the demand for these cakes increases,  additional short courses are now being offered at culinary and pastry schools. For a cake lover such as Hermen Lemma, 26, and mother of one, the additional aesthetics added to cakes are yet another reason it’s become difficult to resist the urge to pick one up every time she passes by a bakery. “I’ve always loved cake and enjoy eating it even more than I should,” Helen says passionately. “This new trend of cake decorating is only enhancing my love for cake.”

Team Bakery is a bakery shop with more than five branches in Addis Ababa.  Team Bakery makes a variety of sweet goods, such as sweets, breads, cookies, and sweet pastries. Cakes are among the popular offerings of the bakery. Semir Surir, a 26-year-old cake specialist at Team Bakery, states that he started making cakes for Team Bakery eight years ago. He gained the skills from international chefs commissioned by Team Bakery.

‘’At Team Bakery, we make unique and wonderful cakes for birthdays, weddings, baby showers, and bridal showers,” Semir told EBR. “Our cakes are popular with children. They are also branded to appeal to the targeted market. For example, fictional animated characters such as Cinderella and Spider-Man are popular with children.”

At first, the community was only interested in regular cakes, there was little awareness of decorated cakes. Later, however, after discovering many cake designs on the internet, people began to inquire about them in person; by this point, nearly everyone was aware of them, according to Semir.

Team Bakery is known for several different cake designs, including those that resemble shoes, bags, animals, and flowers. The most expensive cake is a wedding cake, which typically ranges in price from ETB 15,000 to ETB 80,000. But there are other desserts that cost even more.

Semir believes the training in the bakery should be a degree program. For Semir, it is not just about making the next cake and putting it on the shelf for the next buyer to come in and take it, it’s more of a lifestyle.

“Making cakes is my window into an enjoyable life,” Semir says.

The origins of cakes can be traced all the way back to antiquity. According to food historians, the ancient Egyptians were the earliest civilization to provide signs of sophisticated baking abilities. Moreover, towards the middle of the 17th century, the earliest predecessors of modern cakes started to appear across Europe. This was mostly due to technological advancements, such as more dependable ovens, the production and availability of food molds, and the accessibility of ingredients.

Compared to cake making, cake decorating is a relatively new concept, gaining popularity in Europe in the middle of the 17th century. Originally, cakes were adorned and displayed at feasts and events hosted by European royalty. Back then, these cakes were already decorated with intricate patterns and bright embellishments. But ornamented cakes made their debut in England under Elizabeth I’s rule. With new culinary discoveries being brought back from all across the empire, the food of this era was becoming increasingly exotic and opulent. As a result, spectacular centerpieces were brought out to dazzle and excite banquet guests.

Other studies show that cake decorating was invented in a French bakery in the 1840s when a French baker decided to adorn the cakes in order to raise the price. The French were responsible for bringing adorned cakes to people’s tables and popularizing the idea of dessert during the 19th century.

EBR 11th Year • April 2023 • No. 116

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