By Heeral Shivnani
If you ever find yourself feeling low, a quick look at Kat White's instagram page @katscakes.berkeleybakes shall be enough to brighten up your mood. Filled with a wide range of her handmade desserts - from pies to cakes, and tarts to cookies - it'll make you wonder "why isn't Ms. White already super famous across UC Berkeley's campus?"
Intrigued by her passion for baking, we decided to have a chat with the talented chef herself and had her reveal the thought-process behind her creations. In the process, we figured that she loves including diversity in her craft as just as much as we do!
Kabira: Where do you derive your inspiration from?
Kat: For the most part, my cake aesthetic is largely inspired by nature. I base many of my cakes on patterns and colors that I see outside. My decorating definitely veers in different directions depending on the flavors that are used in the cakes. When I use earthy flavor combinations– like browned butter and pumpkin– I envision a woodland inspired cake. In contrast, I think brighter flavors, like citrus or rosemary, call for a colorful cake with more whimsical decoration. I guess I like to imagine aspects of nature that certain cake flavors might evoke when eaten and then try to base the cake’s decoration on that aesthetic experience.
Kabira: How do you balance baking and academics at Cal? How hard is it to keep doing something you love despite being in such a stressful environment?
Kat: I am fortunate enough to have a baking job that allows me to pursue my hobby while making a bit of money to put towards the expense of school. It helps me get my baking fix while still working towards my future! Still, I always wish that I had more time to devote to personal baking projects. I bake as many custom cakes for my peers and friends as my schedule allows.
Kabira: Which is your most popular cake decor that people order most frequently?
Kat: People that order cakes from me most often give me a large amount of
creative freedom in terms of the cake’s appearance. When I am making a cake,
I ask people for their favorite colors, fruits, nuts and flowers. I try to incorporate
as many of their preferences into the flavors and decorations of the cakes as I can.
I always do my best to use fresh fruits and flowers when I am baking– I think that
it improves the quality of a cake’s flavor and adds a dimension of seasonality to
Kabira: Which are some of your personal favorites?
Kat: I love to create non-traditional cakes with ingredients and flavors that you might not expect to find in a dessert. Out of all of the cakes that I’ve made, my favorite is the curry spiked carrot cake that I made for a friends birthday a few years ago. It had coconut lime buttercream and was decorated with candied basil. I have also made a tomato soup cake with goat cheese buttercream and toasted walnuts that turned out surprisingly well!
Find out more at www.berkeleybakes.com
Some of Kat's featured works