Five pastry artists, five unique and exquisite skill sets. They wield their mixers, bags, and brushes to create masterpieces that make jaws drop before a single fork is lifted. Their work is a slice above.
Armed with just a pastry bag—and her inordinately steady hands—contributing editor Wendy Kromer can replicate intricate lace patterns with laserlike accuracy in lightning time. The former model, who has collaborated with us for 16 years, also ships anywhere in the world. "Making beautiful things excites me," she says. Here, snow-white royal icing trims pastel fondant.
In just four short years in business, Lauri Dittuno has shattered sugar's fragile reputation, sculpting it into light-catching sheets, gravity-defying bubbles, or, as seen here, neatly pleated bows. She has made fabriclike confections for designers, including Alice Temperley and Vera Wang. Each ribbon starts as a mound of granular isomalt, a flexible beet-derived sugar substitute. Ditunno warms the crystals under a heat lamp, then pulls and trims the molten mass. "I have about three minutes until it hardens," she says. "It's a very delicate race against the clock."
For more than three decades, Sylvia Weinstock has been shaping and detailing, on a nearly microscopic level, homemade sugar dough into photo-realistic flowers. In this cascade, buttercream in a subtle shade balances the electrifying hues of delphiniums, peonies, and bleeding hearts.
Before turning her talents to treats, Alexandria Pellegrino graduated from ontario College of Art and Design and lived as an oil painter in Bologna, Italy. Not surprisingly, "It's actually harder to paint on cakes," she says. (Creating the five shown here took 30 hours.) For each stroke, she mixes a few drops of vodka with petal dust, a finely ground, food-safe pigment. Once it touches fondant, the blend dries instantly and doesn't bleed or run. It's a painstaking method, so she has few peers. In fact, Nicole Richie's wedding cake, gilded in edible 24-karat gold, was the Canadian's handiwork.
In 1994, Ron Ben-Israel, then working for a caterer, made cakes for the window displays of a Fifth Avenue jewelry store. A few weeks later, he got a call from Martha Stewart herself, who featured his creations in the premier issue of this magazine. Ben-Israel now has eight employees, a Soho studio and bakery, and is the host of a Food Network pastry-competition show. His imagination is limitless. "I am inspired first," he says. "Then I figure out how to make the vision a reality." For the architectural feat shown here, Ben-Israel paneled a three-tiered hexagonal confection with sugar paste molded to resemble plaster details.