The world of cake design has taken over social media in recent years, as experts, hobbyists and casual viewers alike are fascinated by the culinary creations talented artists are developing. One of those artists making a name for herself on her eye-popping desserts is Yolanda Gampp.
Gampp is the face of How To Cake It, a massively popular YouTube show (with over 4 million subscribers) in which she creates cakes that look like other objects and hosts baking tutorials. The success of these videos has led How To Cake It to expand to selling merchandise and holding live workshops.
Prior to How To Cake It, Gampp attended culinary school before moving to the world of baking. Eventually she starred in Food Network’s SugarStars in Canada. The show aimed to be a real-life sitcom, with the contestants making cakes and various sweet treats for big events in Toronto. However, it only lasted one season before being cancelled, leaving Gampp to figure out her next career move.
That’s when she connected with producers Connie Contardi and Jocelyn Mercer, who had enjoyed her work on SugarStars and wanted to create an entertaining baking show with her as the host. How To Cake It launched as a digital web show in 2015 using YouTube as its main platform.
“We just jumped in head-first, and unbeknownst to us, it went far beyond what we dreamed much faster than we had hoped,” Gampp says. “It has been a roller coaster ride ever since. A good one.”
YouTube has been a windfall for them. They have enjoyed the advantage of being able to instantaneously reach viewers and showcase unique cake ideas. They also receive instant feedback, letting them know what works and giving them suggestions for future ideas. This, in addition to How To Cake It’s lighthearted approach to cake decorating, has fostered a community of cake lovers.
The show focuses on Gampp as she creates crazy, realistic looking objects with cake, and walks viewers through how to do it themselves. The How To Cake It team discusses new ideas for cakes, looking for things that are popular or what holidays are coming up. One of Gampp’s favorites she has done so far was a cake version of the craze that swept the nation: the Popeye’s chicken sandwich.
In 2019, Americans were obsessed with the new chicken sandwich from Popeye’s, a standard “Southern-style” chicken sandwich with mayonnaise, thick-cut pickles, a buttery brioche bun and a chicken breast seasoned and spiced with Popeye's traditional buttermilk batter. The taste won over those who had tried it, and demand was at an all-time high in the second half of that year.
To capitalize on that success, Gampp made her own version with 4.5 pounds of her Ultimate Vanilla Cake. The cake was covered in a tan fondant and featured the same light glaze over its bun. The signature fried chicken was made of a sweet and crunchy peanut butter cereal mix, topped off with fondant pickles and spicy mayo made of buttercream dyed a light cream orange.
Another cake Gampp has enjoyed creating is a hyper-realistic Thanksgiving roasted turkey. It’s one of How To Cake It’s most viewed videos and a cake the most viewers have tried to recreate since it was originally posted. Cakes that look like other foods have been especially popular, according to Gampp. Videos featuring giant cheeseburgers and fries, pizza, blueberry pancakes, a grilled cheese sandwich and sushi (all made from cake) have gained millions of views on YouTube.
Gampp stresses the importance of social media nowadays to baking, especially when it comes to showcasing products. Novelty cake decorating has come a long way and is in the mainstream, thanks in large part to the reach social media has given to cake artists.
“I like to think of social media as the modern business card,” she says. “Instead of just taking your word for it, the more you put up and post, the more they see evidence of what you can do.”
Cake artists such as Gampp have only risen in relevance in the last year, as home bakers are looking for ways to divert their attention from the stresses of the pandemic. With more time spent indoors, they have also looked for activities that occupy their time and stimulate their minds. Cakes have given a boost to our lives, not only through our stomachs but also our eyes, and that’s reflected in How To Cake It’s viewership.
“If you look at the activity we get, people are drawn not only to novelty cakes that look like the real thing, but then seeing it cut and seeing that it’s actually a cake,” she says.
It’s also a great way to go viral online. Numerous cake artists in recent years have received massive exposure from their hyper-realistic cakes, which has helped them to attract more customers to their businesses.