Celebrity wedding cake designer Sylvia Weinstock — who earned the nickname “Queen of Cakes” for her extraordinary edible art — has died. She was 91.
Weinstock — who made appearances on “Gossip Girl,” “Today,” “Top Chef” and “Nailed It” — was a former Long Island schoolteacher who only became a full-time baker at age 50 after surviving breast cancer. She started Sylvia Weinstock Cakes in Tribeca in 1980.
She produced floral-draped architectural works in the shape of rose-studded topiaries, baskets of speckled lilies and bouquets of anemones.
Sylvia Weinstock, who took the art of baking to new heights with her 10-foot-tall wedding cakes and their garlands of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of hand-painted sugar flowers, died on Nov. 22 at her home in Manhattan. She was 91.
Mrs. Weinstock was best known for her elaborate wedding cakes, with flowers crafted petal by petal and cascading down over multiple tiers of buttercream frosting. Some creations towered so high that they dwarfed the petite baker herself; Bon Appétit called her “the Leonardo da Vinci of wedding cakes.”
Mrs. Weinstock did not start baking desserts until she was in her 50s, in the early 1980s. At the time, wedding cakes were generally straightforward affairs — a tier or two with white frosting, sometimes sculpted with fondant icing, sometimes adorned with fruit or flowers.
Mrs. Weinstock introduced a new level of extravagance. She took apart real flowers, examined each petal for its precise shade and contour, then produced floral-draped architectural stunners in the shape of rose-studded topiaries, baskets of speckled rubrum lilies or bouquets of pink, purple and crimson anemones. On occasion, they rose 15 feet high.
“We never count the flowers on a cake,” she told InStyle in 2014. “Rather, we add, and add, and add until it pleases the eye. That could be hundreds, or thousands.” The process was so painstaking, she said, one artist could spend a 40-hour workweek creating just 100 roses.
She also developed recipes so that her confections could travel anywhere and retain their freshness. She and her husband would often escort the cakes, sometimes buying an airplane seat for the precious cargo and assembling it on arrival. She once made a cake to feed 3,000 people for the Saudi royal family, who had it delivered on a royal jet.
Mr. Weinstock, at heart an engineer, devised numerous contraptions to facilitate his wife’s work. He converted a pottery wheel with a foot pedal so that she could apply icing in one smooth stroke, and he made plywood platforms for the cakes with dowels to separate the layers. He was the delivery man, too, wearing a T-shirt that said “cake schlepper.”
Mrs. Weinstock’s signature oversized round eyeglasses made of horn, which kept them light, became the company’s logo, imprinted at the bottom of each dessert.
Image courtesy Barcroft Media via Getty Images, Weinstock family / NY Times, and Celebrities and Jewelry