Nowadays, Dinara Kasko cooks alongside the world's best pastry chefs and has more than 500,000 fans following her every cake-making move on Instagram - but not long ago, baking was just a hobby.
She was working as an architectural visualiser (creating representations of architectural designs) in Kharkov, Ukraine, and making cakes was just something she did for fun.
“I realised that baking and pastry was far more interesting to me than architecture. Time goes by so fast when I’m in the kitchen thinking about cakes, moulds and recipes,” she tells SBS Food.
She taught herself to bake at home and attended a few courses with professional pastry chefs. With a background in architecture, it makes sense that she'd turn to computer software and 3D printers to transform her cakes into works of art. This innovative move effectively launched her as a pastry chef to watch.
She hasn’t completely let go of her past life, though. She toys with software like 3ds Max, Rhinoceros and AutoCAD to create unique moulds that she produces with a 3D printer. She also uses a laser machine and construction tools, like spray guns and building spatulas, to give her creations that special architectural touch.
Kasko starts by imagining what she wants the cake to look like. She then creates a 3D model on her computer, prints it on a 3D printer and fills the plastic master model with silicon.
Once the silicon mould is ready, she fills it with ingredients and freezes it. After it’s solid, she takes the silicon mould off and decorates the cake or tart with glaze or velour.
Her creations might seem flawless, but she assures that there’s a lot of experimenting and trial and error before she finalises each result.
Earlier this year, she pushed her love of 3D printing even further by collaborating with Venezuelan artist José Margulis to create “geometrical kinetic tarts”.
“I tried to transform his creations (made of plastic, aluminium and acrylic) into something edible, using basic techniques and ingredients,” she says.
The results? Very impressive-looking tarts where the bottom part is a traditional cake and the upper part is essentially a chocolate sculpture.
If the technique behind Kasko’s work is the first thing that catches people’s eye, the flavours of her cakes are not an afterthought.
She says she works on the design and the recipe simultaneously, making sure the cakes are as delicious as they are beautiful. “The form and what is inside of the cake should be well-combined. If it’s the ‘block’ mould, then the cake is dense inside. If it’s the ‘cloud’, then it has a very smooth texture and so on,” she says.
Kasko struggles to pick a favourite among all of her desserts, but she considers the Ruby cake to be her most interesting creation.
It took a month and a half to develop using graphical algorithm editor Grasshopper. It features pink chocolate, meringue mousse, ganache, berry confit and biscuit with raspberries.
3D technology can also be used to print food, but in Australia, it’s still very new and mostly limited to research.
Earlier this year, the 3D Food Printing Conference Asia-Pacific Edition was held in Melbourne. There were talks about the use of secondary cuts of meat being turned into “meat ink” for 3D food printing.
One Sydney company, 3dChef, actually produces sugar pieces and edible plate designs with 3D printers. “The majority of our works have been in custom confectionery where we can design and 3D-print most shapes,” says 3dChef founder Julian Sing. “In our process, gone are the days of generic candy or designs.”
Many 3D food printers are limited to chocolate or sugar because they work by deposing layers of a raw material that will solidify.
Elsewhere in the world, more complex printers like the Foodini can make food like pizza - but such creations still need to be cooked after being printed.
3D meals could definitely be a reality one day, but don’t expect them on your table anytime soon. Unless you count chocolate as a meal. And there’s nothing wrong with that.
By Audrey Bourget