Here’s a pastry chef who (literally!) thinks outside the box -- er, pan. Combining her love of architecture with her love of baking, Dinara Kasko creates geometric cakes that may make you rethink the possibilities of pastry.
Using a 3D printer for prototypes, Kasko builds all of her own cake molds from silicone. This allows her to bake a cake in any shape or size imaginable. As you might imagine, from conceptualizing an idea and designing it digitally to 3D-printing it and testing it out as a mold, a single creation can take Kasko a few months to complete. But the Ukrainian pastry chef admits, “I truly enjoy the long process.”
Kasko had always been headed down a design path, though not necessarily in the kitchen. She studied architecture and design, then spent several years working in that field. It wasn’t until 2012 that she began baking as a hobby: "My husband and I had just moved to a new apartment and we had a new kitchen. It was so modern and everything was so nice and new. I just wanted to make something!”
Soon, Kasko found herself more interested in baking than in her work as an architect. She began taking pastry classes until a career shift seemed like the next step … sort of. Today, Kasko describes herself as “working as a designer, but in baking.” She explains, “The more I baked, I learned that looks are just as important as taste.” Wanting to move beyond standard sized baking pans, Kasko decided to make her own molds. “I looked for people in my city who could help me make molds. My first one was made out of wood!” Today, she’s a one-woman show: “We bought a 3D printer for our apartment two years ago, so now I can do it all by myself.”
Each mold begins with a design, which Kasko builds on her computer using special software. Once she’s settled on a design -- she loves working with plain shapes like cubes and spheres, and sharp straight lines -- the design moves on to printing. This can take up to three days per mold. Some of her molds require multiple parts, and a new mold is rarely perfect on the first go. “Sometimes I will need to change the model and print it again. I make many revisions!”
Once the mold is complete, Kasko tests it out. This phase of the process is also time consuming: “When you work with the silicone molds, you need to freeze the cake in the mold for a few hours, often overnight,” she says. This way, the cake will hold its shape when it's time to remove the mold.
When it comes time to decorate, the pastry chef often prefers simple yet elegant glazes, leaving a clean finish. Her three-year-old daughter doesn’t mind; “She’s only interested in the glaze right now, especially if it’s chocolate.”
Want to try one of Kasko’s molds in your kitchen? You can! Though her online shop is currently undergoing renovations, it will be back up and running in January featuring new molds and recipes. ( #NewYearNewYou?) Follow her @dinarakasko for updates.
Watch Kasko make her Chocolate Block Cake here: