Dinara Kasko bakes up pastry art with a touch of whimsy
Like many pastry chefs, Dinara Kasko’s saccharine creations combine flavourful, locally sourced ingredients, culinary know-how and a touch of whimsy. The world of haute patisserie, however, is well known for its offbeat approach to sweet cuisine, and like her ilk, the Ukrainian cordon bleu doles out eccentricity in spades. Among her gustatory confections: a glazed lemon meringue cake in the shape of a quadrilateral cluster of spheres; a hexagonal “concrete” monument with a spongey chocolate centre; and a brownie cake with caramelized white chocolate mousse, blueberry and blackcurrant confit, red currant and berry glaze encased in isomalt. There’s a clear running theme across Kasko’s pastry art: angular minimalism informed by architecture, design and the many principles between these two disciplines. From the Voronoi diagram to triangulation and biomimicry, one’s computational tool is Kasko’s aesthetic device. And as a former architecture designer, the up-and-coming chef naturally gravitates towards geometric composition.
A graduate of Kharkov State University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, Kasko worked for several years as an architect designer and 3D visualizer in the Netherlands.
In 2013, she began baking in her spare time. After mastering the basics, Kasko sought to make more intricate desserts, and in doing so, combined her love of design and architectural acumen with pastry creation. The resulting delicacies are not unlike scale models of works of architecture, only edible, and often made with Kasko’s own silicone moulds.
“I usually start with sketches on paper,” says the pastry artist. “In terms of my own moulds, I first make them on my computer. Even at this stage, I can create the entire scale, proportions; I can vary the colour, texture, and choose decorations for the finished product.
“The next step is to print the 3D master model on the printer and post-process it. Finally, I cast the silicone mould.”
In the short time since discovering pastry art, Kasko, largely self-taught, has found her work has taken her to various countries throughout Europe and Asia, where the pastry artist has taught more than a dozen masterclasses. She has also apprenticed and commingled with some of haute patisserie’s veteran players, including renowned pastry chef Pierre Hermé. As for her moulds, they have gone into mass production through Silikomart, after Kasko’s innovative desserts caught the Italian brand’s eye.
With desserts so visually confounding, resembling works of art or scale buildings, it is easy to imagine that Kasko’s cakes are anything but, let alone edible. However, she is not one to forgo taste for presentation. “Of course the appearance of the product is important,” says Kasko. “But the taste is more important, because no matter how beautiful a cake is, if it does not surprise you, if it leaves you indifferent, you will not want to try it again.”
To that end, Kasko uses traditional ingredients plucked from her home garden alongside more exotic fruits, quality chocolates and cheeses.
The pastry chef now looks to recreate real works of architecture, and down the line, Kasko hopes to have an art space all her own to push her culinary experiments further. “Inspiration can come from anywhere: art, music, photos, style, clothes or furniture, it can be an artist or even a natural object,” says Kasko. “There are a lot of ideas that we can either give an external appearance to or house inside.”