Kneading to relax? Coronavirus shutdowns have prompted a surge in stress baking. In fact, social media has been awash in so many people sharing their baking projects, we’re apt to gain a few pounds just looking at their creations.
For many, the act of baking is also calming, because making cookies or baking bread is a form of mindfulness. And while baking your way through anxiety or uncertainty is nothing new, baking has raised with it since 2016. But with the pandemic confining millions to their homes, the practice is rising even faster than a packet of quick-acting yeast.
Some people use cakes for celebration, some bake them for the art itself. Whatever the preference, in baking, like in real cake, there are layers of hierarchy: only a select few become the icing on the cake. Ben Cullen, who goes by The BakeKing, is one of them. One of the breakout stars of the latest series of Extreme Cake Makers, Ben is quickly becoming a favourite with bakers and caking fans alike.
After studying Art and Graphic design at Chester University, Ben dabbled with graphic design, before entering into a tattooing apprenticeship. But it wasn’t until he was shown an example of a decorated cake by a customer, whilst tattooing in 2014, that Ben was inspired to create his first novelty cake for his dad’s birthday. Since then, his cakes evolved into a stunning range — from something that looks like it came from a fast-food diner to edible clothes, to stylized-yet-lifelike busts, to stabs at horror movies, to vegetables and optical illusions. Ben can do it all, it seems and it messes with your head, too.