If you cannot afford a Bentley or a Birkin, a speciality baker is creating decorated treats for anyone after edible bling.
How to have your designer handbag and eat it too
DUBAI // Fast cars, designer labels, the latest mobile phone - all essential elements in perfecting your image. You can now have all of that ? and eat it, too.
Speciality bakery House of Cakes creates "bling" cakes to customer specification, including edible BlackBerries, Bentleys, Burberry bags and a host of other high-end gadgets and accessories. "Clients send us pictures of shoes they have - or want to have," said Irena Dimitrova, who opened House of Cakes in Dubai four years ago. Her shop makes as many as 400 cakes a month, fewer during the summer. One popular design, a quilted ivory Chanel bag with a gold charm bracelet, was requested more than 200 times in three months. At Dh650, it is a bargain compared with the other purses. A red Birkin bag cake costs Dh750; a leopard-print Roberto Cavalli comes in at Dh850.
In the shoe department, a favourite is a red Jimmy Choo peep-toe set on a white cake for Dh500. The Louboutin stiletto cake, which comes in an elaborate shoebox, costs more than Dh800. One creation, including a BlackBerry, designer purse, perfume, sunglasses and shoebox, went for Dh1,750. Shoes are the hardest to make, said Ms Dimitrova. While most cakes consist of layers of sponge cake covered in fondant and printed rice paper, footwear is made entirely from hardened pieces of sugar paste. Cake decorators first create the heel, wait for it to dry, then form the base, wait again and continue piece by piece for up to five days.
Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Rolls Royces - popular among male customers - are so complex only top chefs take them on. Smartphone cakes are simple by comparison, even with all those buttons and a personalised screen, which Hind Galadari, a 19-year-old Emirati, once requested. "Compared to other designs, the BlackBerry was actually very simple," said Ms Galadari, who orders from House of Cakes every two to four weeks. Her past orders have included a Hello Kitty for her sister and a baseball cap for her brother. "You can give them whatever design you want and they can do it."
Not all customers are after status cakes. Many treat their children to edible figures of Winnie the Pooh and popular TV character Hannah Montana. Other requests have included pineapples, footballs and helmets. "It's possible to make anything, provided you are ready to pay," said Veenu Rihal, a manager at a competing bakery, Ginny's. They charge up to Dh650 for a personalised design, nearly twice the cost of their standard cakes.
Ginny's selection also ranges from expensive purses and cars to children's story characters. "We prefer customised cakes because they increase sales," Ms Rihal said. Delivering the creations can be a challenge, especially when navigating traffic and roundabouts. Even on straight roads, drivers have to guard their odd-shaped cakes from tipping over. The crew at House of Cakes once arrived at a children's party and were setting up their designer confection - Um Khammas from the cartoon show Freej - only to watch helplessly as the grandmother's head broke off.
Though House of Cakes chefs try to dissuade customers from collecting designs they consider too hard to transport, some families insist. One decided to fetch their Dh2,000 order from the shop instead. They tiptoed it to their car and disappeared. Fifteen minutes later Ms Dimitrova received a call. "We broke the cake," they said. "Start making it again." firstname.lastname@example.org