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Straight Outta Chocolate's Rock N' Roll Cakes: Joy Division & Iggy Pop, In Chocolate

Want an homage of your favorite rock star? Try a cake depicting Iggy Pop, Dr. Dre or Debbie Harry--in chocolate. Baker, chocolatier and DJ (at Highland Park's Footsies) Kate Steffens specializes in rock n' roll cakes, with musicians depicted in tempered chocolate which she works into elaborate portraits. Your rock icon, in Valrhona.

Joy Division cake
Joy Division cake
Photo credit: Kate Steffens
Debbie Harry cakeEXPAND
Debbie Harry cake
Photo credit: Kate Steffens
Dr. Dre cake
Dr. Dre cake
Photo credit: Kate Steffens
Elliot Smith cakeEXPAND
Elliot Smith cake
Photo credit: Kate Steffens
Prince cakeEXPAND
Prince cake
Photo credit: Kate Steffens
Johnny Rotten cake
Johnny Rotten cake
Photo credit: Kate Steffens
Iggy Pop cake
Iggy Pop cake
Photo credit: Kate Steffens
Bob Marley cake
Bob Marley cake
Photo credit: Kate Steffens
Billie Holliday cake
Billie Holliday cake
Photo credit: Kate Steffens

Steffens was born at home in an apartment on Hyperion with Bob Marley blasting. Even if she doesn't remember it, it was a defining moment. After attending the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco and doing stints at bakery shops, she wound up back in Echo Park, DJing, starting her website Straight Outta Chocolate, and baking cakes for friends and musicians.

Straight Outta Chocolate's Kate Steffens, DJingEXPAND
Straight Outta Chocolate's Kate Steffens, DJing
photo credit: Chris Stone

Steffens learned chocolate tempering and p√Ętisserie at culinary school, and has perfected a technique using cellophane to get the chocolate the way she wants it. Her first rock n' roll cake was of Bob Dylan, circa Don't Look Back, for a birthday party. "From there I started experimenting with chocolate types and food colorings--powdered dye is the only way to go--and different ways to manipulate the chocolate to create shadows and contours," says Steffens, who prefers working with Valhrona and Scharffen Berger, although she says that the type of chocolate isn't as important as the technique.

"The benefit of chocolate is that I can avoid working with fondant and buttercream, which so many pastry chefs rely on for elaborate cake decoration. I don't know anyone who loves the taste of fondant, but I know plenty of chocolate lovers." Steffen--who is looking to partner with a "like-minded baker" to take over the baking part of the operation so that she can concentrate on chocolate art--has made cakes for industry people and musicians, but says that her dream clients are, sadly, no longer living. (Rock stars having a somewhat high mortality rate.) On her list of dream cakes: Hendrix, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Damo Suzuki, Mississippi John Hurt, and Nina Simone. And yes, she listens to music while she works on the pieces, which can be an all-day process. "Sometimes it's the music of the person I'm depicting in chocolate; sometimes it's a mix of stuff, from old rocksteady to psychedelic funk."

The only problem Steffens sometimes encounters is that people have a difficult time eating their rock stars. "Iggy Pop and Elliot Smith went straight into the frig," says Steffens. Later "my friend called me distraught. 'I just ate Iggy!'" Perhaps a tribute that rock icon would have appreciated.


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