The Best of Beirut
on Nov 17, 2014 By Danielle Issa
Birthdays are not light affairs in Lebanon. Don’t think you can brush off the once-a-year occasion with a store-bought marbled loaf cake and those cheesy candy-striped candles. Oh no. Huge faux pas.
You want to be the town pariah? Around here, a birthday cannot be extravagant enough, and it all starts with a custom-made cake with your favorite cartoon characters (or soap opera actors) in sugar paste form. It has to be so intricate and artistic, you won’t want to have your cake and eat it too!
Beirut’s got some extremely talented cake designers, and we’ve snooped around to see who’s breaking the mold on the birthday cake front. Here they are, in unfiltered glory.
Photo via Facebook
Who hasn’t heard of Gustav, the father of fancy pastries and “innovation sucrée”? Country-renowned for his decadent cake balls—red and blue velvet, peanut butter, passion fruit, and chocolate—Gustav is a master at fashioning personalized cakes for your birthday bashes. With designs as witty as a round of holey cheddar cheese and small grey mice peeping through, to a princess-inspired theme of Cinderella and her pumpkin carriage, the sky’s the limit when it comes to Gustav’s imagination.
Antoun Gemayel St.
Atelier de Chocolola is a home-based bakery that boasts over 700 creations on its Instagram account, showcasing a collection of Twix cakes decorated with Smarties, others lined with Cadbury fingers and Maltesers, and even an homage to Kinder. Besides the death-by-chocolate studded cakes, there’s a noteworthy selection of custom-made birthday cakes, like the tribute to Chanel complete with a sugar-paste handbag, or the platter of sushi accompanied by pickled ginger, wasabi, and even those wretched green plastic separators!
You’re looking for an extraordinary cake, something a bit more elegant and artistic, something out of an illustrated children’s book perhaps. Co-owners Najla and Layla run home-based workshop Vanilla Bean whose cakes look so precious, you’ll be pained to slice into them. How about an Alice in Wonderland number, or maybe a “Journey into My Thirties” cake that’s decked with a yoga enthusiast and her rolled up mat? Personally, I’m all over the Construction Birthday Cake with its edible road signs, traffic cones, and cement truck to crown it.
Joyce Sakr’s sweet somethings at Cakes and Bites are bursting with originality. She’s designed a green-top cake with life-size replicas of gambling chips and playing cards for the poker fanatic. Another of her creations features a movie reel as the cake base topped with a red-and-white striped popcorn bag and a Hollywood slate board movie clapper. There is no limit to Sakr’s wild genius, and—always an added bonus!—her cakes are irresistibly delicious, too.
Click here to go to the Cakes N Bites Facebook page.
Moulin d’Or may have carved out a name in the bread-baking business, but their patisserie also draws serious notice. Besides their dainty French gateaux and refreshing ice cream log cakes in the summertime, their made-to-order birthday cakes are inimitable. We’re convinced their cake artists are formally degreed in visual arts, because there’s nothing they hash out that doesn’t strike you as 100% real. For example, would you ever guess the burger above is posing as a giant burger but is in fact a chocolate cake at heart? Mind-blowing.
Danielle Issa is a food blogger in Lebanon. You can find her on Twitter, and be sure to check out her blog, Beirutista.
Dear Danielle, the Facebook page of Cakes & Bites is https://www.facebook.com/cakesandbites!
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