See the Incredible Art-Inspired Cake Designs From the Blanton Museum’s Annual ‘Great Blanton Bake-Off’

Entrants can pick from the 21,000 works in the Blanton Museum of Art's collection.

A selection of Bake Off entires. Courtesy the Blanton Museum of Art

Did someone say, bake-off?!

In Austin, Texas, the Blanton Museum’s “Great Blanton Bake-Off” is fast becoming a local tradition. Using the medium of cake, museum goers are challenged to re-create their favorites from the 21,000 works in its collection, ranging from Thomas Gainsborough to Ellsworth Kelly to Alice Neel.

The Blanton’s social media and digital content manager Lizabel Stella came up with the idea at the start of the pandemic. With the museum closed, she wanted to do something to connect with the audiences stuck at home.

“Art can be quite conceptual and baking is tangible so, in a way, it’s a different way to consume art,” said Stella. “Unlike baking, art doesn’t necessarily engage all the senses; you can’t necessarily smell art, you can’t necessarily taste art, and you definitely can’t touch art. But with baking, you can do all those things. And it is a nice way to bring it together, especially those that maybe aren’t as familiar with art or the museum.”

Professional Bake Off winner cookies by Hannah Erwinn, inspired by various works in the Blanton’s collection. Courtesy the Blanton Museum of Art.

This year’s winning work was by Blythe Johnson, who chose to recreate Untitled, Meander Paintings, River by Mac Wells.

“When the Blanton Bake-Off came out in 2020, during the first year of the pandemic, I thought, I have some free time, why not spend it trying to compete? It was such a rewarding experience that I’ve continued to do it every year,” Blythe told Smithsonian Magazine. She has won twice.

Amateur Bake-Off winner Joconde Imprime Cake by Blythe Johnson, inspired by Mac Wells’s Untitled, Meander Paintings, River. Courtesy the Blanton Museum of Art

“The colors of the painting made me think of blueberry and almond, and the rest just fell into place after that,” Johnson said of her creation.

The winner of the category for bakers under age 18 was Georgia Chido, who recreated an untitled work by Venezuelan artist Luis Montiel. The 15-year-old deftly recreated the complex textile work to nab the top prize.

Under 18 Bake-Off winner Georgia Chido, inspired by Luis Montiel’s Untitled. Courtesy the Blanton Museum of Art.

“The design itself required a lot of problem-solving,” said Linda Chido, the young artist’s mother. “In interesting ways, Georgia used bottle caps to cut out fondant to make some little circles.”

The winners received a gift card to a local patisserie and a membership to the museum.

“It’s important to remember that it’s okay to take a break, not to ignore the things that are happening, but to make time for the things that move you,” said Stella. “This moves me. I’m gonna make a cake. It’s very simple.”


See the entries by searching the #blantonbakeoff on Instagram.

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