Assistant blog editor and a professional baker, Susan Holtham, shares what happens when you combine a passion for food and a love of art, to make art-inspired cake to celebrate the new Tate Britain

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  • Tate Britain art inspired cake by Susan Holtham

    Three artworks, three cakes: giant fondant fancies inspired by John Singer Sargent’s Mrs Carl Meyer, ‘Bomberg Battenberg’ inspired by David Bomberg’s The Mud Bath, and vanilla and chocolate cake inspired by Robert Peake’s Lady Anne Pope

    Photo: Alexey Moskvin

  • Tate Britain art inspired cake by Susan Holtham

    Here’s me talking about the art-cakes, before they’re gone!

    Photo: Alexey Moskvin

  • Tate Britain art inspired cake by Susan Holtham

    Cake time at Tate Britain’s house warming party

    Photo: Alexey Moskvin

  • Tate Britain art inspired cake by Susan Holtham

    One happy house warming party-goer!

    Photo: Alexey Moskvin

  • Kaleem Hyder's chilli infused king crab leg linguine inspired by Turner's The Sun of Venice Going to Sea

    Food instagrammer Kaleem Hyder’s chilli infused king crab leg linguine inspired by Turner’s The Sun of Venice Going to Sea

    Food photos: Kaleem Hyder

  • Bice Perrini's food painting of Turner's Sunset

    Food-artist Bice Perrini’s interpretation of Turner’s Sunset using vegetable pastes as ‘paint’

    Photo: Coloribo di Bice Perrini 

  • Robert Peake, 'Lady Anne Pope' 1615

    Robert Peake
    Lady Anne Pope 1615
    Oil on wood
    support: 571 x 445 mm
    Purchased 1955

    View the main page for this artwork

  • John Singer Sargent, 'Mrs Carl Meyer and her Children' 1896

    John Singer Sargent
    Mrs Carl Meyer and her Children 1896
    Oil on canvas
    frame: 2340 x 1670 x 130 mm
    Bequeathed by Adle, Lady Meyer 1930, with a life interest for her son and grandson and presented in 2005 in celebration of the lives of Sir Anthony and Lady Barbadee Meyer, accessioned 2009

    View the main page for this artwork

I’ve always been a big fan of food; at family gatherings it was always ‘Susan will finish it’. And, of course, I’ve always been a big fan of art. It was after a few trips to the US however that the fascination with the link between the two really began to kick-in. In my mind a visit to galleries in Manhattan’s Chelsea wouldn’t be complete without a trip to a bakery. Just as I couldn’t shake the sight of Jeff Koons’s big, shiny yellow puppy on the roof of the Met (and the urge to hug it), there’s something equally enthralling about about dozens of bright, impeccably-iced cakes all perfectly arranged in rows, calling to be eaten; so when I got home, I baked my own.

Fast forward a few years, I’m assistant blog editor at Tate and a professional baker on the side. This summer, I baked a couple of art-inspired cakes as part of our campaign to celebrate the new Tate Britain. We made a social media call out for you to do the same, and I loved what you shared. There was Liza Adamczewski’s brilliant ‘Rothko tray bake in purple black and grey’ suggestion, and a minimal, David Nash inspired ‘exotic black pyramid, cube & sphere’ suggested by Treasure and Relish.

Rosana McPhee's strawberry and coconut jelly with gold leaf inspired by Stephen van Herwijck's Portrait of Elizabeth I

Food blogger Rosana McPhee’s strawberry and coconut jelly with gold leaf inspired by Stephen van Herwijck’s Portrait of Elizabeth I

Photos: Rosana McPhee

Food blogger Rosana McPhee whipped up a wonderful strawberry and coconut jelly inspired by Elizabeth I’s skirt in Stephen van Herwijck’s c.1563 painting. You could almost smell the sea in Kaleem Hyder’s crab linguine inspired by Turner’s The Sun of Venice Going to Sea, and can pretty much taste Turner’s Sunset in Bice Perrini’s vegetable paste toast painting. Then there’s Katie Glass’s beautifully simple take on Epstein’s Jacob and the Angel, where two pink jelly babies have an uncanny similarity to the pale pink alabaster figures.

Katie Glass's jelly baby homage to Epstein's Jacob and the Angel

Community Coordinator at Google+, Katie Glass’s jelly baby homage to Epstein’s Jacob and the Angel

Photos: Katie Glass

And so to my own additions, which I created for Tate Britain’s ‘house warming party’. Armed with your art-food for thought, I wanted to not make literal edible copies of an artwork, but something that captures the essence of a work, intrepreted into something new. Afterall, that’s how I think art evolves. So, here’s what I baked up (drum roll please):

David Bomberg, 'The Mud Bath' 1914

David Bomberg
The Mud Bath 1914
Oil on canvas
support: 1524 x 2242 mm frame: 1718 x 2427 x 70 mm
Purchased 1964© Tate

View the main page for this artwork

It was a lot of work but also the most fun I’ve ever had making cake! I loved how Mrs Meyer’s voluptuous ‘fancy’ skirt is the soft colour of strawberry blancmange with creamy silk layers peeking-out underneath. The dynamism of Bomberg’s figures cutting-through the blood-coloured background in The Mud Bath never fails to capture me (and turns out the offcuts of coloured cake did a pretty good job at representing this); and how can you not be inspired to make sweet treats when faced with the carefully embroidered strawberries on Lady Anne Pope’s jacket, and her standing in front of a fruitful cherry tree?

You seemed to love it too as it took just 15 minutes for the cakes to disappear. To those who could make it, thank you for coming and supporting the art-cake cause. For those who couldn’t, try giving it a go at home and tweet your pictures to us @Tate.