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Meet The Cake Queen, Nikki Pensabene Of byPensa


Nikki Pensabene




East Williamsburg, Brooklyn


My business, and love of my life, is byPensa. Primarily known for custom cakes, byPensa is a perfect mix of contemporary style, quality ingredients, and personal design. Outside of custom cakes, I also do a variety of other sweets, including decorated cookies, tarts, and pies, and I offer workshops throughout the year.


ByPensa is known for non-traditional, hyper-personalized cakes. Clients come to me with out-of-the box visions they hope I can reimagine into beautiful (and delicious!) cakes. I’ve had customers give me anything from a single word to their child’s scribbled drawing to a full novel. I absolutely love bringing these ideas to life through cake; they are my favorite projects to work on. (Some shroom love below)

favorite cake i’ve ever made?

Two come to mind. The first was brought to me through an event planner I frequently work with. (She always brings unique briefs or visions and lets me go wild with all the whimsical designs I like to implement.) She told me “sky is the ground” was the theme. I drew inspiration from lyrics, stories, and paintings, and brought this theme to life with four separate cakes, all shaped like clouds and placed on a large display unit that I built. I decorated them to look like clouds floating in the air. The stark white cloud cakes were accented by vibrant red mannequin heads, drifting among the clouds. The whole display was presented by dancers, dressed as Marie Antoinette, twirling the cakes around the dance floor. 

My second favorite cake was for a child’s birthday. The father reached out and shared that his son was interested in praying mantis. I asked him to send me some photos of toys his son liked for inspiration and he included a drawing the son made of a praying mantis. I immediately knew I had to put the drawing on the cake. The birthday boy was so excited when I delivered it! He also introduced me to his pet praying mantis, Ghost.

HOW i’m doing

I’m feeling optimistic and inspired. I’ve taken some time the last couple of years to focus on my mental health, which I’m a huge advocate for. I am feeling healthy and ready to sprinkle more sweetness back into the world.

Nikki’s classic design


There are endless ways to support my small business. You can order a cake for your next event (everything's better with cake, right!?) and sign up for one of my workshops (check my social channels for upcoming events). You can also follow me on social media (@bypensa_ & @nikkipensabene) and tell your friends about byPensa!


Cake-wise, my secret skill is straight lines and sharp edges. I live for perfectly clean cakes adorned with all whimsical decorations.

Outside of baking, my secret skills range from plumbing and gardening to taking things apart and putting them back together. I really love doing anything with my hands, which is probably my greatest strength as a business owner, because so much more goes into having a cake business other than just making cakes.


Until further notice, celebrate everything. And, it’s only weird if you make it weird.


This is a really difficult question because I collect cookbooks and host a cookbook club (restarting after a pandemic pause). I really like to romanticize them. My curious brain returns over and over to more technical books like The Food Lab and Salt Fat Acid Heat, but my heart will always choose M.F.K. Fisher’s How To Cook A Wolf. My 1943 edition sits ceremoniously on a shelf in my studio, the bright green cover frayed and continuously fading with the sun.

Nikki’s treasured cookbooks


Quality heat-proof rubber spatulas. I have numerous ones in every color of the rainbow, and a large and small set. I love the sturdiness of these ones and having several makes it super convenient to mix multiple things at once. I love color coordinating to match the color frosting I’m using. :) Also, I own nearly every pink product that Great Jones makes. I love them.

A must-have tool for any baker


I am currently obsessed with sumac. It’s bright like lemon zest, slightly sweet, and a bit floral. I’ve been using it in everything from savory dishes to cookies. I love supporting sustainably spice brands like Diaspora Co. and Burlap & Barrel.

squad Shoutout

I want to give a Bombesquad shoutout to Ayla Walter! Ayla and I met in culinary school over 10 years ago. She is an extremely talented chef who cooks locally and abroad. She is one of the most dedicated and focused people I know. Ayla’s watched me grow byPensa over the last five years and has helped with everything from deliveries to managing my inbox to being my sounding board. She’s quite literally my ride or die, and neither my business or myself would be where we are today without her. I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her.