FAQs about Cakes
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process - ingredients - ordering - display - testimonials



Q: Do you paint the face on?
A: No; this is not an air-brushed, computer-generated “painting” on a cake. This is original, freehand, one-of-a-kind, bas-relief sculpture. I build the sculpture first, then use a palette of frostings to color it.

Q: Where did you learn to do this?
A: I made it up.

Q Do you have specially-shaped baking pans?
A: No, I use regular sheet-type cake pans. After I do a preliminary drawing, I cut out a foamcore cardboard base following the flat outline of the design, then cut the cake to fit that. Then I work upwards from that, layering and carving the cake to build the sculpture. I also use various fruits sculpturally when appropriate, e.g., a strawberry to emphasize a cheekbone.

Q: What are the teeth made of?
A: Yogurt-covered raisins, unless a subject has absolutely perfect, “piano-key” straight teeth. Then I just use white frosting with lines drawn into it.

Q Do you work from a photo?
A: Yes - and because the portrait is 3-dimensional, I prefer two or more photos of the subject.




Q: What kind of ingredients do you use?
A: I make each cake from scratch, using fresh, natural ingredients (unsalted butter, eggs without antibiotics, organic wholewheat pastry flour, organic cane sugar). Fostings are made of butter, chocolate, cocoa, vanilla, cream cheese and sugar, plus various food colorings. In my designs I often use edible, organically grown flowers from my garden; I’ll go out into the yard and become inspired by what’s in bloom.

Q: What flavors are available?
A: I have developed a chocolat/port wine cake recipe that relies only on eggs for leavening and is very dense and rich, like a torte. It makes an excellent sculptural medium. Although I consider myself an artist first and a baker second, I do use only the finest ingredients and therefore make an absolutely delicious cake (see testimonials). I do not, however, offer much choice as to cake types and fillings. These are the choices:

Cake: chocolate/port wine (described above); vanilla/yellow

Filling: mocha cream cheese; raspberry cream cheese; strawberry cream cheese; chocolate fudge

Frosting: must be chocolate fudge underlayer to seal the sculpture; other colors as the artwork dictates

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Q: How much does a cake cost?
A: The smallest size single portrait cake costs $250 and serves 35 people. For each additional serving, add $2.50.

Q: How do I order one of your cakes?
A: Call me at 415-648-6740, to discuss your request. Please give me at least two weeks’ advance notice. When you call, I will ask for at least two photos of the intended subject, preferably from different angles (need not be large or color), and a deposit of half the total amount.



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Q: Do you have any particular advice for how to display and serve the cake?
A: The portrait will be easier to see with the forehead area elevated - for example, hide a paperback book or two under the top part of the head. You don’t necessarily need to put a plate or tray under it; its foamcore base provides sufficient support. Display it prominently as part of the party decor at the very beginning, when guests start to arrive - it’s a great conversation piece. If you wait till dessert time to surprise the guest of honor, believe me, no one will be ready to destroy the just-revealed artwork by eating it!

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“Your cake was a really big hit. It truly was beautiful - and delicious. Wow!...admired all evening...We ate it all. The eyes were the last to go! - is that typical?” - Leslie Ren Terry, Art Teacher, Town School, San Francisco


"As a longtime, repeat customer, I can honestly say that Joni Eisen's exquisite cake portraits steal the show at every event. Her cakes always have wonderful flavor and texture. People are truly touched to receive them--and can't wait to dig in and eat them!" - Rhonda Sinibaldi, Draper Richards, San Francisco


“I’m a longtime fan; by now Joni has done a cake portrait of every member of my family. Not only are her cakes exceptionally beautiful; there is a whimsical quality to her art that captures the essential character of the person. The cakes are also fabulously delicious. I love Joni’s cakes!” - Janet Parker, San Francisco


"When is a cake not just a cake? When it's a Joni Eisen cake sculpture...Joni has an uncanny knack for capturing the human spirit and turning it into delectable edible art...the cakes are as delicious as they are beautiful. Joni has made several cakes for me: special occasions (like a Jack Benny cake for my 39th birthday) and wonderful likenesses of friends and family." - Professor Susan Rutberg,Golden Gate University School of Law, San Francisco

“...a belated ‘Thank you’ for the fabulous cake you created for our wedding. We had been really impressed with your portrait cakes but asked you to do something a little different for us: a cake like a Mondrian painting. You gave us exactly what we wanted. I mean, really, how many bakers could you ask to make a round Mondrian cake and know that they'd understand just what you were talking about? You came through with a stunning and gorgeous cake. It was also incredibly rich and delicious: double chocolate cake sandwiched with an unsweetened berry filling. Divine! We got so many compliments on it. Thank you for helping to make our day even more special.” - Mark and Cece Rosengarden, San Rafael, CA.

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