Paperboy's first birthday: We celebrate with cake from Auckland's best bakers

Photography Rebekah Robinson

Sure to rise

All the best celebrations require cake, right? So for our first birthday, we commissioned four of Auckland’s best bakers (well, one is an ice cream genius) to create cakes that they thought fitted the occasion. The results, as you’ll see, are astounding. Oh, and they taste good, too

Niu Cakery

Junior Niuafe Malupo stacks ‘em high

More is usually more with Junior Niuafe Malupo’s cakes, and the towering extravaganza he made for our birthday is no exception. It is not a single cake, but six layers of chocolate sponge stuck painstakingly together with a silky Whittaker’s dark chocolate ganache – so high that there are some nervous moments as Malupo carries it into the photo studio in a huge cardboard box. Malupo set up Niu Cakery with his mother Olga two years ago, and has rapidly built a reputation for creating standout special-occasion spectaculars. The sponge cakes in this one took less than an hour to bake in the big oven in his New Lynn headquarters; it was the decorating that was the time-consuming part. He spent two painstaking hours brushing on layers of coloured icing in a marbled effect, before adding handmade macarons, meringue kisses and chocolate leaves. On top, there’s a coconut hand-painted with edible gold paint, and fresh flowers, including frangipani, that Malupo says nod to his Tongan ancestry. “They give that island touch,” he says. “When people see this, they’ll know it’s one of mine.”

9 Sheridan Drv, New Lynn. See niucakery.com

Little & Friday

Kim Evans dreamed up a delightful fruity stack

Kim Evans is Auckland baking royalty: her decade-old Belmont bakery, Little & Friday, has earned a reputation for greatness all over town. For our first birthday cake, she looked to the city’s diversity for inspiration. “Recent studies have found that people from 200 different ethnic groups live in Auckland – the city is considered more diverse than London or Sydney,” she says, as she stacks sweet sponge with layers of lime mascarpone cream and tropical fruit in the photography studio. Her cake is a tribute to the strength of diversity: vibrant mango is a hat tip to Asia and the Pacific Islands, where the fruit proliferates; the Victoria sponge is a nod to Britain; and, “in true American style”, each layer is thick with cream. Weighed down with these accoutrements, the four tiers were a challenge to stack, but when Evans drizzled pureed raspberries over the top, it looked wonderful in its wobbliness. “I call Little & Friday a feel-good factory,” she says. “Our cakes appeal visually and are a comfort experience, filled with nostalgia and memories.”

11 McColl St, Newmarket, and 43D Eversleigh Rd, Belmont. See littleandfriday.com

Giapo Ice Cream

The Italian maestros create a birthday tribute

When we initially asked them to create a cake for our first birthday, ice cream master Giapo Grazioli and his wife Annarosa – who churn out showstopping ice cream creations on a daily basis from their Gore Street store in the central city – had a few questions for us, which they sent via email. “What kind of feeling do you want to give your readers?” was one. “What will make you super-happy if we do it?” was another. We replied that it was an open brief, and that we mostly wanted to use our birthday to show off the skills of some of our favourite dessert maestros. Giapo and Annarosa responded with a single scoop of chocolate ice cream flavoured with coffee from Auckland’s Miller’s roastery that was placed in a hand-rolled cone, dipped in white chocolate, then decorated with chocolate replicas of the Sky Tower, the Harbour Bridge, a rugby ball and a Paperboy ‘P’; as well as a chocolate rendition, iced pink, of Te Ara I Whiti, the Lightpath. Too pretty to eat? Don’t be silly, Giapo and Annarosa say. “Ice cream for us is a way to exchange emotions,” Annarosa says. “It is how we hope to connect with other people’s souls.”

12 Gore St, central city. See giapo.com

The Caker

Jordan Rondel creates a flower-filled dreamscape

Jordan Rondel says she has “baking in my blood”. It’s a passion she inherited from her Parisian grandparents, cultivated while she was studying marketing at university, and turned into a full-time business when she opened The Caker bakery – now located in Karangahape Road – in 2010. The four-tiered masterpiece she made in response to our first-birthday commission is evidence of her passion and obsessive attention to detail. It took seven hours to make, with baking starting at 6am on the day of our shoot. It is the equivalent size of five of Rondel’s standard cakes: two on the bottom, one and a half in the middle, and another smaller cake on top. The cakes are impossibly light almond and vanilla sponge, studded with fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. On top, Rondel used a cream cheese icing with flecks of freeze-dried strawberries for colour. Rondel says stacking the cake ran the risk of making it look too “wedding-y”, but she thinks the freeze-dried berries and the zany positioning of flowers on the final tier dodge a look that’s too traditional. We were too busy swooning over this beautiful confection to care. “We have this saying,” Rondel says. “Cakes are edible expressions of love. It’s so cheesy but I don’t really care. It’s the truth.”

446 Karangahape Rd. See thecaker.co.nz