Whimsical yet organic, these rounded confections are a treat to behold
A cake from the Chicago-based baker Dream Cake Test Kitchen looks like something out of a Dr. Seuss landscape: Flowers poke out like Truffula trees, and halved fruit protrudes like glowing orbs. “I like to create environments that you think you saw, but you’re not sure where,” says Hyun Jung Jun, an artist who has made cakes under the Dream Cake name since 2020. “It’s kind of like, Maybe I’ve seen this place in my dreams.”
A crucial part of that Seussian nature is the shape: One of Jun’s signature designs is a domed cake. This started out of necessity when a friend requested a cake with “90 percent cream,” making a dome the most logical option, but the shape stuck because Jun liked the “soft feelings that dome cakes have.” She’s described the dome cakes she’s made ever since, covered in buttercream or mirror glaze, as fairy hills, violet bonbon islands, and creamy mountains. These cakes feel distinctly natural — adorned with evergreen sprigs and pristine fruit, they’re very much part of the popular “organic cakes” aesthetic — while also whimsical. “I like the imagination coming out of the scene,” Jun says. “What could happen here?”
Jun’s versions are their own microworlds, but riffs on the dome cake are increasingly showing up on my social feeds. Dome cakes from Bronwen Wyatt’s Bayou Saint Cake — a trendsetter in the naturalist cake niche — are swooped with her signature frosting squiggles. At Julia Gallay’s Gallz Provisions, dome cakes are more heavily adorned with flowers and fruit. Every inch covered with butterflies and tie-dye-esque frosting, the ultra maximalist versions from Ginger Mayo’s Gigi’s Little Kitchen are dream worlds for fairies on acid. Los Angeles-based baker Kassie Mendieta is calling her approach to domes “chaotic whimsy,” veering from monochromatic ruffles to a creation covered in pink strawberry shortbread crumbles reminiscent of the ice cream bar. Rose Wilde added towering beehive cakes — tall cakes topped with domes — to the menu of her microbakery Red Bread in May.
The dome cake isn’t exactly new. Sweden’s traditional, green marzipan-covered prinsesstårta, or princess cake, is classically shaped like a dome, as is Baked Alaska, which has gotten renewed attention recently. And doll cakes, before being impaled with doll torsos, are also notably domed. Yet the shape is definitely experiencing a surge of interest.
Fun to look at, the shape is also fun to make, says Mendieta, who started making dome cakes about a month ago and posts videos of her cake-making process on TikTok. While hemisphere cake pans are available, she likes to bake her cake layers separately, build them into a domed pan, and then chill the cake overnight before flipping it. It’s the decorating part that really draws her to the dome. Not only is there more surface area, but it’s also all essentially a top-view, she explains, causing her less anxiety about messing up the sides of the cake. “It feels a lot more free in the decorative process of it all,” she says.
There’s an obvious sense of similarity and shared inspiration within these cakes, but each is distinct enough so each baker’s personal style shines through. The dome cake trend thus ends up as something of a collective project, in which citing inspiration is encouraged. While some social media food trends become so big that they outgrow any particular niche (the viral feta pasta, for example), the dome cake still seems tethered to a sense of small community.
For Mendieta, dome cakes have been an undeniable hit. “They sell better,” she says. “But also, they’re the better performing pieces of content that I put out.” While videos of her classic cakes might nab a few thousand views each on TikTok, a recent run of dome cake videos is raking in views in the tens of thousands and up to a million. Part of this interest might be novelty, but according to Mendieta, there’s also the pull of nostalgia.
In her comments, people point to a Betty Crocker product known as the Bake n’ Fill, which created a domed cake with ice cream or Jell-O at its core and was marketed in the early 2000s. Today, the top comment on a Bake n’ Fill infomercial on YouTube says, “I remember being 10 years old, wanting this so bad.” Cracked published an ode to the Bake n’ Fill last year, attributing fondness for the product to its opportune timing for millennials who were watching a lot of TV. This kind of callback makes sense to Mendieta. “Everyone’s into Y2K fashion, and I think it’s becoming the same for food trends as well,” she says.
While the dome cake might be tapping into some deep-seated childhood fantasy, one thing is certain: The dome cakes of today are dreamier than anything that Betty Crocker infomercial ever put forth.