How TikTok Star Robert Lucas Takes Birthday Cakes to a Whole New Level

Time to invest in a...cake steamer?

Cake decorating, unicorn cake

Simply Recipes

Robert Lucas is a Tiktok star known for his incredible cake designs. Scroll through his enticing feed and you’ll spot a cake that looks exactly like a Halloween bucket, layered cakes that appear to magically float, and one shaped and decorated to look just like a Playstation controller. 

He demonstrates his unique, carefully-crafted creations in front of the camera, from stacking the first cake layer to the final flourishes, often with fun bloopers along the way. The self-taught baker and decorator has gained a big following—with over two million followers on TikTok—and recently quit his full-time IT job to focus on cakes.

I talked to Lucas about his new-found career in confectionary design, his favorite birthday cakes, and his tips for home bakers looking to up their cake game.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Wasn’t the first cake you ever made a birthday cake?
Right, it was for my niece’s 9th birthday. It was a unicorn cake. I saw a picture of one on Instagram and though, “I bet I could do that.” I knew my niece’s birthday was coming up, so I called my sister and asked if I could make her birthday cake. I’d never made a cake before, so I’m surprised she said, “Sure!”[Haha.] It turned out great and my niece loved it. Ever since then, I just kept making more and more cakes.

What would be your ultimate birthday cake?
I’m a huge Marvel fan, so I’d want a cake designed with the superheroes I like. I also love music, so a music-themed one would be great. I love ice cream cake, but if I had to pick a cake, then red velvet cake.

What’s a favorite birthday cake you’ve made for someone else?

I made my niece’s 10th birthday cake—the same niece [as my first cake], a year later. She had a mermaid-themed birthday, so I made a mermaid cake. I bought a doll, made a mermaid top and tail with fondant, and covered the cake in scales—there was a lot of detail and it was a lot of work, but I felt that I had to do a good job.

How would you go about making a memorable birthday cake?
Very tall, multiple-tier cakes are always eye-catching. And adding a special effect to the cake helps. I’ve done cakes that glow in the dark under a black light or a floating cake, like a round cake in the middle that looks like it’s floating.

Chocolate vs. Vanilla vs. Funfetti?
Funfetti. Because it’s so eye-catching when you cut the cake and see the colors. It’s a special treat when you cut it. Sprinkles in general are good for birthdays.

How do you feel about boxed cake mixes and canned frosting?
I don’t use either. I always knew I wanted to be very proud of my cakes, so I make everything from scratch—the cake, the frosting, even the marshmallow fondant. I’ve never used boxed cake mixes or canned frosting. But, if you’re just getting started and especially if you’re focusing on design, buying cake mix and canned frosting may not be bad for you. You may not want to go through the trouble of baking the cake from scratch when you’re practicing design. If you’re making cakes for people and you want it to be very special, I’d bake the cakes from scratch.

What are your tips for a beginner baking a birthday cake?
Try making different cakes a few times before you decide what kind of cake to make. You want it to look great and you also want your base cake and frosting to taste great. Once you’ve got that down pat, then it’s time to work on the design. 

What about if you’re just getting into cake decorating?
Don’t get too upset or defeated if it doesn’t look how you want it to look. It will get better. I was super proud of my first cake, but now I look at it and go, “Wow, I can’t believe I was so proud of that!” [Haha.] I’m happy I can look back, see the improvement, and know that I’ve grown.

What are your essential tools for cake decorating?
You need a smooth cake scraper and an offset spatula. As long as you have those two tools, you can make a cake look pretty good. A lot of people think that if they cover a cake with fondant it’ll cover up their mistakes—it doesn’t. It kind of makes them worse by highlighting the lumps and mistakes on the cake!

If I’m using fondant to decorate a cake, the essential tools are a fondant smoother and a steamer—that’s for getting rid of the cornstarch used to roll the fondant. After I cover the cake and decorate it with fondant, I steam it a bit to give it a little shine. It looks really good on camera.

Using cake combs are great because they add texture to the frosting, like buttercream. People are always blown away by a striped cake with clean, straight stripes.

Any tips for bakers who are new to fondant?
I didn’t know what I was doing when I started decorating cakes, so I looked at a lot of videos and blogs online. That's how I made my first cake. I’d suggest watching and learning from others—see how someone else does it and then building your skills from there.

I know a lot of people that decorate cakes don’t like to use fondant because it’s hard to work with and get clean, sharp corners. It’s a little tricky to work with, but once you get it down, it’s not too bad.

What do you enjoy the most about making cakes?
The design is what I love the most. Of course the baking is fun, but I think what keeps me going is having a vision in my mind and then seeing it come together in the final product.