Ace of Cakes

So we have this NBA star that is coming to the bakery. Melo? Carmelo? WHY is he named after candy?! I don’t keep track of basketball. Or baseball or football for that matter. Forgive me?

Anyway, it should still be pretty cool. Carmelo, akin to Laura, will be making his own cake. Only this time it will be less cute, and also Carmelo won’t know it’s his cake.

There is “Weird Paste” at the bakery. It is not real gumpaste, as it does not dry. In 24 hours, it is still rubber. Mary Alice thinks it is the result of an alien invasion. Ben thinks that it’s a cross between fondant and gumpaste.

Also there is a “crazy jazz pianist” and a dancer getting married. He is the pianist, she the dancer. Their cake will feature her dancing on a piano. Sounds really cool!

ANOTHER MILITARY CAKE? It’s the USS Carny (spelling, how?). It’s a naval destroyer. Anyway, it was commissioned by a military wife for her husband’s retirement, and it will be at a 100 naval people there, so accuracy is important. Also, it’s 5 feet long.

It’s going to be awesome.

The trophy part of ‘Melo’s cake, which is made of Styrofoam since cake simply cannot do that particular shape, will be filled with caramelos – obviously, the filling will occur after Caramelo has left the bakery, as doing it while he was there would kind of give away the whole secret. The base of the trophy will be the edible cake part, specifically the part Carmelo will be decorating. There will be no trophy in sight, so as to guarantee he won’t know what’s going on.

Ben was the creator of the naval destroyer. He has decided that in defiance of the shape of a naval destroyer, he will make everything out of cake, and that absolutely nothing in the cake will be inedible. Awesome.

Geoff, of course, got the terribly intricate gumpaste piano. Excellent. It’s got an incredible difficulty level, so of course Geoff will rock it out of the park. The cake has to fit exactly with the gumpaste, and gumpaste takes 24 hours to dry, so mistakes are not an option.

Charm City Cakes = Charmed by Carmelo’s height and stardom. Carmelo’s Mother = Starstruck with duff.

Melo gets to paint the base with a brown paint to make it look like wood. He never guessed it was his own cake, so he signed it and requested pictures for when it was complete. For a really tall guy it was pretty cute.

Geoff’s voice has changed inexplicably. Huh. Oh, also, the piano is gorgeous. He piped every single string, he painted every little bit accurately, there were 88 keys in the correct configuration and all the dragees are in the right spots. He has made a perfect piano replica. Geoff is my hero. Geoff is now at Robert and Alton status. The dancing lady is just a shadow on the piano’s lid, but it looks very classy on the top of the piano. It’s a good cake.

On the plaque for the trophy cake? “Thanks for making Baltime great!” – Duff meant Baltimore, but he missed an O and an R. Whoops.

Oh my gosh, that’s cake?! That naval destroyer is 100 percent cake? Oh, my. It’s beautiful, accurate, it’s amazingly made out of cake. Ben has defied gravity with flour and eggs. Geoff doesn’t think that anyone would want to see something they’d seen quite so much ever again (all of the retiree’s 20 years of duty had been on that ship. Or at least all the significant ones), but then decided that eating your workplace must bring some kind of closure. Perhaps there will be a Charm City Cakes building cake someday.

The bride and groom receiving the piano loved it, and the child retinue wanted to know if that was actually cake, or if they would be asked to eat wood later. Never fear, adorably attired children! That’s Duff cake, and that means it isn’t just cake, it’s tasty cake. There might even be marshmallows!

So they were driving the trophy cake – a pretty cool cake in the end, though nowhere near the piano’s awesome – and it broke. They get it back to the bakery, Geof fixes it, and now Duff has 4 minutes to get it to location. How many times can Duff be almost late in a season? He’s got 4 minutes, 3 minutes, 1 minute – and he is there, somehow, on time. Is anyone surprised? It took “Melo” a few minutes to figure out that he had seen that cake before, but his face lit up and he was all, “Yeah, I made that cake. It’s pound cake.”

It was pretty awesome.


Duff. Drives. A. Tank.

This cannot end well.

Also of note: at Duff’s, it’s not casual Friday, it’s Roller Skate Friday – you know, since they wear jeans and t-shirts every day.

This week has some classy cakes. See: A humidor full of Cuban Cigars, and a picnic-themed wedding cake that is topped with a cake wine barrel overflowing with grapes. To top that all off, they are creating a birthday cake for the US Army (as it was apparently their birthday) and they want a replica of an M-1 tank. Which is why Duff gets to drive a tank, so he can get a feel for it. Cake inspiration you know.

Duff takes so many field trips, just because he can. I want this job. He did get covered in disgusting goo of nasty mud, (Geof managed to remain completely clean) This is highly expected, however, it does make me far less jealous of Duff. Ew.

Mary Alice is not a poet.

Ben is wearing a smoking jacket so that he could succeed in creating the humidor cake. Now everyone is wearing the smoking jacket! Geoff tries it on to help with structural issues, and Duff wears it to smoke a cake cigar.

The fondant picnic blanket is really beautiful and the cake itself is very detailed. It will be challenging, but I think it will come out very beautifully. It’s got a lot of stuff on it, but I think it will tie together well.

The tank is also going to be a challenge. Duff is trying to convince Mary Alice and Geoff that a firework labeled “torch” is a perfectly acceptable substitute for the allowed “sparkler.” After Mary Alice informed him that she would neither take him to the hospital, bail him out of jail, or write a letter of apology to the army, he decided to test it out in the parking lot. He decided against it in the end.

The humidor cake? Holy cow. Ben put so much detail into it, it looks like you ought to smoke it. IT was just spectacular. It was this beautifully painted woodgrain box cake, resting open to show perfect cigars – and you could take them out and eat them seperately, which I thought was a great touch. Wow!

My prediction was correct – the wine-cask picnic cake was beautiful. Anna had some last minute doubts, but when does she not have last minute doubts? It came out well.

The tank was crazy! I did like the humidor cake better, but the tank was crazy, people. Just crazy. It was very boring in terms of color, so very accurate there, and it was huge. So overall it was perfect. Hilariously enough, rather than putting an illegal fireworks, he put a likely-unsafe number of sparklers jammed into a very small space. And Mary Alice was okay with this. Hoo boy.

The week was hot, though, and so when Anna was delivering the wine cake, some of the slats on the cask fell off – but Anna came to the rescue just as well as Duff did and the couple loved it. Perfect!

The tank did not actually explode upon being lit. I am almost surprised. Duff got a little mini-medal pin “for excellence” as well. Go Duff!

A good episode.

There is a gentleman (Duff’s relation?) trying to convince Duff that he needs to be chaperoned into the Playboy mansion, where he will apparently be making a cake. What is this cake going to look like? Will that part of Ace of Cakes need censoring? When will this episode be? What’s going on?!

The Maryland Zoo benefit has come up again, and everyone reminds Duff, “This time, measure the van” – last year, the Flamingo did not fit into the van, and they had to do a very complex move that involved angry Duff every time there was a bump. Which there are a lot of, in Baltimore. This time, it’s an elephant, and that means Duff gets to justify a trip to the zoo as a business expense. Mary Alice thinks that this elephant-petting trip is unnecessary, but obviously she is wrong. Or something.

The Harbor School’s theme or whatever is “Guiding Light” and their symbol is thusly a lighthouse, which they now have commissioned Duff to create in cake. Duff, being Duff, is demanding that the lighthouse completely function. Because that would make it so much more awesome.

They are also doing a cake in tribute to Ella Thompson for the Night at the Wire benefit. It will be a row house cake – which will make two? three? in my memory, they’ve done this before – but this is because Thompson used to fix up old places and plant gardens as well as being the coolest child-helping lady ever.

Duff managed to break the fridge by setting the thermostat too low (ironic, neh?) Therefore, Duff has to get it fixed. You can’t work with perishable items and not have a fridge! However, it does bring about the point that he has way more to do than make cake. The more I watch the show the more I wonder when the last time was that Duff actually *touched* cake. No wonder he needs interns…

The elephant comes together nicely in Styrofoam – they aren’t making a real elephant cake, as it would be obscene to be in the zoo passing out pieces of decapitated elephant, even if it was chocolate flavored. They will instead be passing out pieces of sheet cake, which is far less disturbing to small children.

Mary Alice is convinced she could make money by giving people “The Wire” set tours. Geoff is not convinced. Mary Alice is not deterred, and instead decides to stalk them. After a quick talk with someone they’ve done a cake for (a camera guy) she decides she’s cheating, and that she has to wait until the show is actually on TV.

The lighthouse cake is really tall. The schoolchildren whom it is for are probably shorter than this cake. They have also managed to discover the best motor for using in cakes. However, they didn’t tell us, so if you were interested you have to continue your own quest for the perfect in-cake motor.

The elephant, which is purple, is amazing. The wrinkles and everything are just amazing – at the end it didn’t even look purple anymore. Amazing! However, at some point someone decided to put a pile of black fondant on the ground near his butt. The offending poo was removed. He was given peanuts, as well – and he got to keep those. To quote Mary Alice, “Endangeredly delicious.”

Say what?

The lighthouse cake was delightful. The lighthouse itself was perfect. Duff and the principal argue over which cocker spaniel is the cutest (fondant replicas of faculty dogs were requested at the base of the lighthouse.) I say they are all adorable, and the cake a Charm City Success.

The row house case is really pretty, and makes row houses look like a spectacular place to live. Mary Alice is wearing a bright yellow strapless tea-length dress at this benefit. She proves that despite the fact that no one, ever, looks good in a bright yellow dress with black trim, Mary Alice does not need to follow the fashion rules that govern normal human beings. She looks great!

Ace of Cakes franchise? They are being plagued by a Dubain woman who wants an Ace of Cakes. Mary Alice, being more patient than I am, tells her 19 times, no, we are not franchising. Can’t they just start their own bakery, for crying out loud?

Jason’s head being eaten by a pair of zombies. Now don’t go calling up Ace of Cakes to make your own statue of yourself in cake – they don’t do features of people as cake subjects, but if you want to be eaten by zombies, then it’s okay.

Anna gets a cake with horizontal stripes, which is extraordinarily difficult due to the dragging, drooping nature of fondant. They sag and look pretty unprofessional. And they set Anna-the-Perfectionist on this. Whoo, boy, this is going to go over spectacularly. I predict at least 2 meltdowns.

Geoff gets the assignment to make not one, but two stadiums. fuggidabodit. Or however you would spell that.

Of the two, Camden Yards apparently has this very specific grass pattern that the groundskeeper takes great pride in. Geoff decides that this grass pattern must become a part of the cake, though normally he would concentrate on the outside of the stadium. The other stadium is Raven Stadium.

Duff’s method for horizontal stripes? Brute force. Do it. Until you get it right. Anna thinks that someone has to know how to do this better than that. Duff does have to admit that there is no one in Charm City Cakes that has actually worked in a normal cake shop. Therefore, it stands to perfect reason that there is a lot they don’t know. Anna begs him to call Colette, who gives them both tips and reassurance that “there will always be a seam” where you connect the strips in the back.

On the head cake, there are fondant dropping problems. However, Elena has a good point – drooping flesh and torn nonsense is par for the course on a head being shredded and consumed by zombies. Disappointed zombies at that, since they were likely after brains and they are getting chocolate chip cake. Bit of a difference (I hope!)

ICE CREAM MAN BREAK! Cut for a scene where Duff chases him down like a man possessed, to purchase his employees Oreo sundae cups. Now there’s a nice boss for you.

The partially devoured head is pretty gross. Okay, actually, it’s really disgusting. She carved the head and then cracked it open and is now stuffing it with brains. Mary Alice is disturbed. It drips. And it is disgusting. Guh. Ew.

Geof is a perfectionist. And he works too hard. Therefore, he has to delegate a lot of the fun part, namely decoration, to others. Poor Geof. However, they are doing a very good job, and the stadium is beautiful. (Raven Stadium, which has had basically no screen time, also looks really nice)

The zombies are disgusting, and melting due to some dye issues. They seem to think this is a problem, I think they look more like zombies. It could get problematic if they melted off the skeleton, though.

They have 24 cakes. 20 different places. And all of them are due on Saturday. Duff has a lot of traveling to do. Everyone seemed to love their cakes. Oh, and Camden yards was perfect. Perfect.

This couple is letting their children design their wedding cake. They sat down with the kids and they came up with a Jeep, four pairs of boots, a skunk and a green (?)gorilla. Mary Alice is hoping there’s some kind of family joke behind it, and as usual she harbors worries that they’ll hate it. However, my guess is that the parents will understand it all and they’ll love it.

There’s a make a wish girl (she has brain cancer) whose wish, apparently, was to make a birthday cake with Duff Goldman. That’s a really cool wish. Whoever you are, kid, I already like you. It is also to be covered in animals, with a jungle theme. Make-a-Wish is also sponsoring her party, from what I understand, which is to be huge.

There’s a Southwest Spirit event, and Southwest Airlines wants a Duff cake present. Specifically, they want a jet that has been covered in the design of the Maryland flag, which is the flag of the second Lord Baltimore and the Crossland family, combined. It should be awesome, as the flag is quite pretty. Duff is, as usual, pumped – Maryland is the coolest place ever! I’ve decided, North Dakota and Maryland come*directly in line after Texas in sheer state pride. I have never lived or visited anywhere quite so obsessed with themselves as a state, entirely separate from their existence as a united state, quite so much as those three.

This week they started with 29 cakes, four more cakes than they’ve ever done before in one week, but then they discovered a cake that they nearly forgot to post. So, 30 cakes, and 5 more than they’ve ever done before. The offending cake, by the way, was a shoe.

Oh, drama! The Southwest event is on Wednesday, and most people want their cakes on Friday – meaning Charm City is set up to deal with “Cakes done by Thursday night/Friday morning.” The early cake deadline, on such an in-depth cake, is definitely causing some stress for Anna. She was having some difficulty getting the fondant on, and as regular fans know, Anna is OCD. Her Scrabble cake was perfect and playable, she insisted that the little man be where she wanted it to be on an airplane cake some time ago, etc. She has an artist’s vision that can be a little detrimental to her effectiveness, but her cakes are more admirable for it. It was a beautiful cake. And of course, Duff managed to deliver the cake 3 minutes before the deadline. He claims to be a stickler for punctuality.

Duff and M.A. decided to surprise the make-a-wish girl, Laura, at the baggage claim. It was pretty awesome, and Laura is a total sweetheart. She was smiling so hard “she [couldn’t] move her face!” It was so cute. She looked dumbfounded, ecstatic, and shocked at once. So perfect.

Laura is awestruck upon getting to the bakery (in a limo, no less). She can’t talk for a bit: “Nice shirt” Duff says. She nods. “Would you like a tour of the bakery?”, nod. She sees Geoff and she does exactly what I would do: stares in awe and waves at the back of his head – he was, of course, cutting cake at the time.

She finally opens up and wants to know if Duff has ever had a food fight. He has, of course.

Duff, of course, thinks he should hire her. Mary Alice was expecting her to be a more heart-wrenching, but she was so much fun. And the cake? The coolest cake in the world. The whole thing was so sweet. It was a huge jungle cake, covered in fondant jungle animals, and then the whole thing was lightly sprayed in silver so it was a very sparkly, marbled jungle. It was beautiful. Go you, Laura!

So, normally I would include a synopsis of how much the parents loved the cake, however, I think you need to hear more Josh’s reaction to the cake. I was reading a blog post over the commercial, and the parent’s wedding cake comes on. He sees two children, a boy and a girl (10, 12?),dressed to the nines, being delivered this cake. He says, “I hope that’s for a birthday” – I don’t even look up yet and I know, he’s talking about the wedding cake that is a jeep and a green gorilla and a monkey. I say, oh, no, that’s a wedding cake. I also don’t see his face of horror – yet. I say then, “That’s their kids, and they said they said could do whatever they wanted for their wedding cake.”

Well, Josh didn’t hear the “That” and thought I meant, “They’re kids, and [Charm City Cakes] said [the kids] could do whatever they wanted for their wedding cake.” He promptly freaked, of course. I was utterly confused for about a minute, and wow. Wow. Okay, maybe you all didn’t think that was half as funny as we did. But it was awesome.

Duff, Geoff, and Mary Alice are at the Competition, therefore, Anna’s in charge. It will be interesting to see if Anna is also full of antioxidants, or if she’s a pushover.

Cakes this week: A replica of the bar Max’s on Broadway. It’s a wedding cake, and not only are they replicating the building, there is also to be a mini-bride poking a passed-out groom with a pool cue. Should be entertaining! There is also a “Kid’s Poetry Cake” – a groom’s cake for a guy that is supposed to be covered in his old artwork and poetry.

Duff is at the supreme challenge – late. Oh, wait, wait, literally within minutes of the meeting he had to be at. *Just* in time. Are you surprised? I’m not! Definitely not.

Anna may be in charge, but….uh, Elaine is practicing her chair-spinning skills, Mary is napping, and Anna’s opinion? “Everyone’s really good at motivating themselves. Oh, and also the cakes, while numerous, are not difficult.”

Napping on the job might still be a bad idea
. It’ll teach Duff to leave the mice to play, right?

Back at the competition, Mary Alice on her “extreme” introduction: “I don’t know what the protocol is for walking through lasers!” Duff doesn’t know how to use a mic. He’s flailing it all around, arms over his head, while trying to talk. Need to hold it up to your face there, dear.

It was exciting to see the Sock Monkey again. It was just as cool the second time. Also, it focused more on Duff and M.A. and Geoff, which was exciting. Mary Alice seemed even more stressed than the competitors when there was four minutes left. Duff was energized and he seemed to love having the tables turned – though he did say a couple times he wished he could have participated.

Despite the fact that apparently they didn’t do anything, Mary Alice seems to think they aren’t too far behind. Though they left the entire Max’s on Broadway for Geoff, which he wasn’t so terribly excited, but he admitted that everything else was good. I think it was lame of them to leave that cake for Geoff, though. LAME! It turned out absolutely silly and spectacular, therefore, it was yet another Geoff-Rocks moment.

Clark’s cake looked completely like Clark had drawn it, even though Anna painted on all the art. It looked like they had screened prints of his art onto the cake. Wow!

Kid quote of the week: “We Baltimore people are so much better than Boston. Our baseball team isn’t though” I think this needs to be an ongoing series: crazy-weird stuff the kid’s said.

(Oh, and Anna? Total pushover)

A reader writes in to say Mary Alice needs a raise. Her reply is, of course, darn straight. The gang is out to a tattoo parlor this week. Mary’s getting a bird with a little banner in it’s mouth that reads “Quite Contrary.” Apparently that joke didn’t bother her as much in high school as it did my mom. Duff threatens to get a flaming whisk – people ask him what he does, he’s a baker. Everyone knows Duff is the hardest-core baker that ever was, right?

So, in the weekly cake lineup, we have a row house cake for an 80 year old woman’s birthday – birthday girl has a prominent fondant-fig on the porch (it’s like a lego mini-fig, only in fondant.) There’s a replica of the Steel Magnolias armadillo, only in an EMT uniform. There is a duck-hunting cake for a hunter with little dangling fondant ducks. Awesome.

I love the new intern, the kid? Duff scolds him, “You whine, you’re sassy, and you lack moral fiber.” His response? “Yeah, well – you’re full of antioxidants.” Oh. Kay then, I don’t have a comeback for that. No, really, what do you say to that?

Elaine gets the armadillo cake, since she did such a spectacular job with the insult beaver last week. However, she is given ears that are toooooo big. So a lobotomy, some wood, and a power tool or four later, the ears are in, and they could be six feet tall and they probably still wouldn’t be too big. It ends up spectacular. Elaina could probably open up her own shop, she’s so good. Just so long as they stuck to weird quadrupeds, right?

Geof’s dog, Cotton, is beautiful. He’s out with her, taking pictures of row houses for Shirley’s birthday cake. He figures Geof, from the West Coast, will fail it otherwise.

It’s time for the tattoo! They’re all off to the Baltimore Tattoo Museum, and we can see if Duff is just talking big on that flaming whisk. (In an interlude, the duck-hunting cake is HUGE)

There is a whisk. It’s definitely not on fire. Duff, I am so dissappointed. Unless, of course, you have to come back and get the fire later. But right now, very disappointed. Whisk needs to be on fire! Elaina’s is huge, and I can’t quite tell what of. It’s very psychedelic, though. The bird is very pretty – and Mary repeatedly states that she’s terrified her father now hates her, or some such.

The row house cake is beautiful, and of course, it busts on the way to the place of consumption. Geoff is having breakfast and there’s a phone call, the roof has fallen off and his services are urgently required. (It’s like Cake: Impossible!) He’s off to fix the cake. Being Geof, of course, he fixes it – much to the awe of the kid who asks with emergency-room-like fear, “Is it bad?” It’s Geof, kid. Your gramma’s cake is safe.

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