8 hot new cake trends for 2021

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8 hot new cake trends for 2021

From easy icing techniques to try at home, to the most inspiring cakes made by professional bakers, here are 8 of the top trends we’re seeing all over Instagram in 2021.

1. New Lambeth cakes

Goodbye naked cakes, hello maximalism! Named for Joseph Lambeth, Lambeth cakes feature an ornate style of piping that began in the 1930s – and which is now coming back in a big way. Cape Town bakery Sweet Lionheart is producing some of the prettiest ones around – like the incredible ‘Frilly Antoinette’ cake. “Our original inspiration for the style came from the work of UK-based Lily Vanilli, as well as from the Korean cakeries we follow on Instagram like @3rdiam_cake,” explains Sweet Lionheart founder Nikki Symons. But TV shows like Netflix’s Bridgerton have definitely fuelled the vintage icing trend. The piping techniques sound like ice-skating moves – overpiped double reverse borders, snail trails, ropes, barrels, scrolls and shells. Want to try your hand at the fine art of icing? The Lionheart team has an online school on Teachable. Visit the Sweet Lionheart store at Maker’s Landing in Cape Town

2. Traditional African wedding cakes

Durban baker Des Ngema (@DesBaked) is a master of all sorts of cake designs, but we particularly love her proudly South African wedding cakes, which take inspiration from heritage patterning. “Growing up, I was seeing one dimensional cakes for traditional celebrations. It was always the same look. Yet our cultures are so rich with colour and textures whether it’s on fabric or our houses/ household items that have ethnic flair,” explains Des. She takes inspiration from African ceramics, fabrics and buildings and works in collaboration with individual clients to produce bespoke pieces that capture their love story.

The cake below was inspired by two cultures coming together. “A Zulu bride who was going to marry her Nigerian prince,” explains Des. “We made the top tier to resemble isicholo (traditional head gear worn by married Zulu women) and adorned it with beads, the middle tier was wrapped in Kente edible print and finished off the base tier with pleated fondant and edible beads.” Behold this beauty!


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A post shared by DesBaked (@desbaked)

You can read more about Des’s work in a recent interview with the baker.


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A post shared by DesBaked (@desbaked)

Another baker celebrating the beauty of proudly South African patterning is Tash Harduth of Soft Peaks in Joburg. She used candy dragees (edible soft-centred balls) to create the elaborate patterning on this cake. Read more about Tash and her business in our recent interview.


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A post shared by softpeaks cake studio (@softpeaksza)

3. Lunchbox cakes

With large events cancelled during lockdown, custom bakeries had to rethink their business models. Mini cakes – designed for one or two – became a rave success. Sweet Lionheart sells theirs in a biodegradable burger box. Also called Bento cakes, the trend has taken off all over the world – from Korea to Sao Paulo (as in the example below).


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A post shared by • N A M I • (@namiconfeitaria)

4. Wild colours and muted colours

Muted, muddy colours and clashing colours are making a big comeback in cake design. We love the complexity this brings about. Abigail’s tip for achieving the look? Add a tiny dot of brown gel colour into your icing – or alternatively, a little cocoa powder.


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A post shared by Sweet LionHeart® (@sweet.lionheart)

5. Neon cakes

On the other end of the spectrum, luminous colours are also appearing, like this neon green number from avant-garde London food stylist and cake baker, Hebe Konditori.


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A post shared by Hebe Konditori (@hebe_konditori)

London baker Lily Vanilli as also made a foray in neon, as in this textured buttercream beauty.

6. Textured palette knife cakes

While we’re on the subject of texture – bakers are using palette knifes for realistic pictures, but also using buttercream in purely textural ways, like in this mesmerising cake, inspired by an art work.


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A post shared by Tortik Annushka (@tortikannuchka)

7. Upcycled store-bought cakes

We love @TikTokBaker’s viral video, using two Woolies cakes to create a birthday cake for her son – the video has racked up 4.6 million views to date. Read more about Zaynab and her rise to TikTok mastery in our recent interview.


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A post shared by Tiktok Baker (@zaynab_paruk)

Another idea for decorating a store-bought cake? Try Abi Donnelly’s petal cake design. You don’t even need a piping bag – a sandwich bag with the corner cut off will work.


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A post shared by Woolworths TASTE Magazine (@wwtaste)


8. Human body cakes

Baker Des Ngema says the top trend she’s noticed making a comeback online is for sculpted cakes in human form, but with an edgy artistic twist to them. “The Russians have mastered this technique and I’m noticing that some of the top SA cake decorators have also picked it up. I’m keen to give it a go and create my own version.”

Katharine Pope Article by: Katharine Pope

TASTE's head of digital content is an adventurous, if somewhat haphazard cook. Her favourite recipes are all either cake, curry, or risotto, and she is an expert at hiding vegetables in unexpected places, to outwit her veg-hating toddler and husband.

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