A man lying on a hospital bed with his legs and arms chopped up may not be the most appetising image but look closely and you will see there is a large slice of illusion involved.
The gruesome sight is actually a cake. The culinary version of British rapper Slowthai was created by artist Ben Cullen for the star’s music video Feel Away.
And the realistic chunk of sponge and vanilla is just one of hundreds he has made.
Others include a hot dog, trainers, burgers, footballs, cocktails, chicken and an electric guitar he made for his birthday.
Chester-based Ben, 31, said: “I love the idea of trying to trick people and making sculptures from my cakes.
“For me, it’s about how far you can take it. How realistic and uncake-like you can make the objects. I am obsessed with it.”
Illusion cakes have become a huge trend, recently buoyed by the popularity of Netflix gameshow Is It Cake?, where bakers replicate common objects for a £3,850 prize.
And a Sainsbury tie-in with the Great British Bake Off produced a series of adverts asking viewers to guess whether food such as a loaf of crusty bread or a steak was cake or not cake?”. Those were baked by Ben.
His creations take on average three days to make and sell for up to £50,000. Ben has provided treats for the likes of Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and Rita Ora.
You would think he has been baking for ages but he only started in 2016.
He said: “I wasn’t interested in it at all when I was younger. It has been a bit of a surprising career choice for me.
“But I always wanted to be an artist and when I saw it was possible to make art out of cakes, I started doing it straight away.
“I’d love to have my own TV show. My biggest aim is to do a house made from cake, where everything inside it is edible.”
Here, Ben shares some of the secrets behind his amazing creations…
Burger and chips
Shades and colouring have to be exactly right. Ben says: “Objects have a lot of different tones, they’re not just one colour.
“For this burger and chips, I mixed various edible food colouring together to get it right.
“Adding a random colour, in this case blue, can help you get the right colour for the bun.”
For spherical objects the cake is baked in two halves then put together. Ben explains: “You have to ensure the chocolate ganache around the base is sturdy enough for you to put the top sphere on it and hold it.
“To get it perfectly spherical, there’s a long process of smoothing the ganache. It is incredibly repetitive.
“You also have to bear in mind that adding paste will make the object larger.”
Everything is edible, even the straw made from modelling chocolate.
Ben says: “These ones are crazy hard to do. I made a real-life cocktail and put it next to me and then worked out the angle I’d shoot the cake from, then the tones I needed.
“I airbrushed the food colouring for the drink itself but the base and the top of the glass I had to hand paint.”
Ben says: “I analysed a real chicken breast and saw it had this stretched skin. By accident, I found when I got a new toothbrush, turned it on an angle and dragged it very gently, it left thin lines on the surface, like the chicken had.
“I used tinfoil to create wrinkled bits and toffee sauce for the disgusting chicken juice you get.”
Ben says texture is “one of the most important things”.
He adds: “To get the hot dog bread right I wet some sugar paste then got a nail brush to twist and pull away at it.
“I’ve tried hot dogs a few times and this one is the closest I’ve got to the real deal.”