It’s not often that a child’s birthday cake will inspire a career change, but that is precisely what happened to Natasja Sadi. Today, from her picturesque studio in Amsterdam, she creates some of the most exquisitely decorated cakes in Europe. Her specialty is the sugar flower, created through a centuries-old technique of molding gum paste into realist flowers that rival those in Dutch masterpieces. With their velvet petals and radiant leaves, each blossom is truly a work of art—albeit one that can be eaten. “Each one is an object to me,” says Sadi, whose blooms cost upward of $1,000. “There’s beauty in something that’s so fragile that you have to enjoy it while you can.”

Originally from Suriname, the small South American country formerly under Dutch rule, Sadi spent the first part of her professional life designing wedding dresses for private clients. But she always loved to bake. Three years ago, she found herself up at four a.m., obsessively embellishing a doll’s gown on that confection that was destined for her daughter. The idea to design cakes with sugar flowers was born. She gave herself more than a year to study flowers and dissect, paint, and bake them.