Modern Art Desserts by Rika Hermanto

Have you ever pictured how famous painting or artworks would look like when it has been interpreted into food? Pastry Chef Caitlin Williams Freeman from The Blue Bottle Coffee Bar at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is doing exactly that by interpreting artworks into her cake creations.


At The Blue Bottle Coffee Bar, Freeman and her team translate modern artwork into edible masterpieces. From Matisse parfait to Mondrian cake to Frida wedding cookies to Fuller hot chocolate, her recipes add imaginative and whimsical delight for foodies and art lovers. The main highlight however, is the infamous Mondrian cake, inspired by artworks from Piet Mondrian. The cake features geometric block of white, red, blue, and yellow velvet cake, stacked and glued together with chocolate ganache. The cake works is a two-day effort involving four separate cakes and assembly blueprints.

The infamous Mondrian cake at The Blue Bottle Coffee Bar, SF MOMA

Freeman started out wanting to be an art photographer. One day, while still in art school, she came across ‘Display Cake’, Wayne Thiebaud’s 1963 painting of cakes, during her visit to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. The image later inspired her to set off in the world of baking. She then started selling the edible art bites at the Blue Bottle Coffee Bar, the café she and her husband, Blue Bottle founder James Freeman, operate inside the SF MOMA.  One of the first modern art cakes she put on the menu was homage to Thiebaud. Over the past several years, Freeman has made a name for herself by crafting art inspired dessert based on art display at the museum. The cake genius also wrote a book ‘Modern Art Dessert’ that features cake recipes that are popular from the café. Freeman and her team have made about 70 menu items so far and the book explains how to make 27 of them.

Freeman’s take on Wayne Thiebaud’s Display Cakes, the painting that inspired 

Only few confections such as the Mondrian and Thiebaud cakes are mainstays on the café menu. Since the café only make things that are on display at the museum; that means things are always changing and it pushes Freeman and her team to constantly innovate and come up with their own interpretation of modern dessert.

Art is so inspiring and could translate into so many things. I personally think that Freeman interpretation of cake creations is so imaginative and whimsical. If you happen to be in San Francisco, you should visit SF MOMA for a day of art browsing and finish off the visit with a picture perfect art inspired cake, paired with a cup of your favorite coffee.

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