Online Exclusive: Cake Talk

Celebrating our tenth anniversary with pastry perfection

May 14, 2012

Photos by Soybaby

You might find it hard to believe, but this is the first cake Photo Editor Soybaby has ever made.

Also, this is a real cake. Well, sort of.

To celebrate Hyphen’s ten-year anniversary and 25th issue, our creative team wanted to go all-out for an exciting back cover of the magazine. Photo Director Andria Lo asked Soybaby to do something fun with the magazine’s iconic H logo. “Since we’re celebrating our tenth ‘birthday,’ the most familiar image is a cake, so I just played off of that,” he said.  

The gravity-defying result is an epic tribute, and most amazingly, the shot is real. “I try not to manipulate stuff – if I can make a real thing I’ll just do that and shoot it,” he said. Everything from the pink posterboard background to the free-standing set-up is what Soybaby actually photographed.

But it’s not a cake you can eat. “I went to Walmart and bought some foam, the green kind you use for floral arrangements, and then covered it with icing,” Soybaby said (he thinks the icing was Pillsbury). Without any previous experience in cake decorating, his piping skills are quite impressive: “It was out of a canister, you know, like what Cheese Whiz comes out of.”

Assembling the cake so that it actually stood up proved to be quite daunting. Forming the “H” and propping it up with barbeque skewers, the cake stood about 15 inches tall, and was kept in Soybaby’s living room for two weeks while he went through different phases of the photo shoot. “I had some Easter grass and other stuff around it at first, and they asked me to simplify it,” he said, “so I took away that stuff but wanted to add the heart sprinkles. At that point, the cake had been out for a while and the icing was already hard so I had to press them on one by one.”

The animal figurines that adorn the cake were also bought at Walmart. Godzilla and the ninja were from his personal collection. (Can you spot them above?)

“I also collect little tiny babies,” said Soybaby, who is based in San Leandro and has been contributing to the magazine since 2004. “I was in Berkeley in this educational kids’ store and on the counter they had this little box of babies – I saw them there and just had to buy them.” He must have known they would come in handy one day. “When I was making the cake I saw them and threw them on,” he said. Or rather, he pressed them on, one by one.

Most treacherous about the project was making sure not to set his apartment on fire. “The cake was not super stable, so I had to light all the candles, and then take the photos really quickly. Every move I made, I had to make sure I wasn’t going to send the whole thing up in flames,” said Soybaby. He even bought a fire extinguisher just in case, which, like the tiny toy babies, turned out to come in handy.

“I had started with sparkler candles and the only way to put them out was with water, but something happened and the jar holding them shattered and spilled all over the floor,” he said. “So I blasted it with the fire extinguisher.”

By the end of the two weeks, the cake was practically melting, as you can see in the final shot (and even more so below). “Every day I came home I’d be wondering if it would still be standing,” said Rafanan.

Evidently, we Hyphen editors like to live dangerously. But it’s our birthday; we’re allowed to do something a little bit wild! And please, just let us eat cake!


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Nicole Wong

Senior Editor

Nicole Wong is a senior editor for Hyphen living in San Francisco. By day, she's a media engagement strategist at Active Voice, tackling social issues through the creative use of film.