Brooklyn Floral Delights’ “Buttercream Succulents” Are More Beautiful Than You Could Imagine
At first glance, it might be difficult to tell that the cakes in the images on Brooklyn Floral Delight’s Instagram are in fact baked goods and not actual bouquets of roses and succulents.
Greenpoint-based baker Jiahn Kang, 30, founded Brooklyn Floral Delights in December 2015. With a background in visual communications and fashion design, Kang was first introduced to the world of floral baking through a class in Korea, where she was then working for a jewelry company.
In her mid-twenties, she started her own jewelry line, and from there went on to form a larger jewelry company. The shift to working primarily on the screen made Kang long for a connection to tactile objects and to create with her hands again. “When I make flowers, I can’t think of anything else,” she says of the pleasure that she gets from spending hours making an intricate and elaborate cake.
After enrolling in weekly lessons in baking and learning how to pipe flowers– the technique bakers commonly use to create elaborate patterns with pastry cream– Kang practiced for about a year on her free time from work. She initially started her Instagram when she moved to Brooklyn as a way to show friends and family what she was up to. When she started producing too many cakes to eat, she’d send them to CatBird, an enduringly-trendy jewelry company on Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg, who began sharing her images on Instagram. From there, Kang started receiving requests to make different bespoke cakes and cupcakes.
Currently, Kang’s menu features a variety of edible plant options, including a wreath style which goes only on the edges of a cake, a blossom style that covers the whole surface of the cake, and the crescent style which lines the edges like a half moon. (The succulents, above shown, are one of her most popular options.)
Kang seeks inspiration for her work from the plates and ceramic pieces that she finds in shops in her neighborhood, and from museums like MoMA and Dia:Beacon, as she is particularly interested in working from the trends she observes in fashion and other art forms. (For example, she says that pineapple was a popular image recently on plates and ceramics, and after that the trend shifted to cacti.)
Currently, Kang creates cakes for weddings, baby and bridal showers, birthdays, and corporate events. Each cake takes about 4-5 hours to make. She also makes the cupcakes in batches of 12 and requests that people order a dozen at the minimum.
Some of the cakes are pastel-based tones, and others feature bright tones of oranges, reds and greens. Drawing from her fashion design background, Kang says one of the most exciting aspects of this work is choosing the color palette. Like a florist, she plays with different arrangements, from rose bouquets, to succulent clusters, atop each baked item.
Given the depth and detailing involved in her work, Kang says that she became more interested in plants after she started creating them from buttercream. As a child, her mother would point out flowers on their walks, and Kang would nod along but didn’t feel particularly drawn to them. “The colors are too vivid in Korea, but here there are more neutral colors, and the leaves, some are really green, but some are silver-green,” she says, reflecting on the nuance that continually inspires her work. Kang loves going to the wholesale flower market in NYC and observing flowers where ever they catch her eye. Whether in the supermarket or images on the web, flowers’ enduring beauty offers continual inspiration for her art– edible baked goods that allow customers to have their succulents and eat them, too.