Cake Boss: The Next Great Baker

We’ve followed Buddy and his family around for a while now as they work to make crazy cakes for special occasions. We’ve seen fireworks and dragons, the leaning tower of piza and a fire station, the millenium falcon and pizza pies, and just about any other kind of cake you can imagine. This season, we got something new: a competition to find “the Next Great Baker.” Which really means that like in the Apprentice, this is a glorified search for someone to work at his bakery. The competition follows 10 bakers competing to prove who makes the best cake and design and the winner not only gets to work for Carlos but also wins $50,000 and a new car.

I’ll be honest. Having watched the show until now, the contestants don’t seem all that talented. Maybe they just aren’t being given enough time to do much, maybe they have specific strengths (which certainly does not seem to be decoration) that they aren’t getting much chance to showcase. Whatever it is, they mostly come off looking more inept than anything else. There might also be a nervousness factor here, not just because this is a competition but because Buddy can be kinda intimidating.

Despite their lack of talent, the show is still entertaining. With the misfires (special effects that didn’t go off) and cake demolition, we’ve been given surprises. The contestants themselves have the quirkiness of Christian Siriano and Jay of Project Runway and a mean streak worthy of the Jersey Shore.

Judges include members of the bakery and the clients they make cakes for. Somehow the contestants are always scared of the contestants as though Buddy’s sister who runs the orders is the authority on cakes. Yes, she works in a cake shop, but so do all the contestants. And she doesn’t even bake!

As the season draws to a close, and the frontrunners emerge, the show has been renewed for a second season. How many people can the bakery employ?

Cake Boss: Battleship, Ballet, and Burning!

Buddy shows up at US Air Force. They’re having a formal dinner on the Battleship New Jersey and wants him to make a cake for the event. (Side note, the soldiers look so old.) This particular base is made up of men and women who have to take over hostile airstrips and make it functional in within 24 hours. Buddy also gets to take a ride in a humvee and partake in a training exercise. Wasting bullets in the US army. Joey, a veteran, particularly enjoyed being there. Buddy plans a runway with all that’s needed to turn it into an airport with a plane taking off. There will be tents, humvees, a forklift.

Buddy meets with Deborah to make a cake for the fifteenth anniversary of Dance Now, where choreographers and dancers premiere their work. They wear all manner of costume. Buddy wants a dancer on top and to use fabric. Buddy does a disturbing ballet imitation.

They are working on the cake when an alarm goes off. Buddy runs downstairs to find smoking. The pound cake is burning because Joey got called away. Buddy is pissed but finally he says just make another batch. Not so exciting as the title makes it sound.

At the top of the cake will be a dancer with a billowing skirt and the cake will be covered with flowy fabric. The dancer will be made of modeling chocolate.

Meanwhile, they start the cake out of a frame a cereal treats. The shape is the hardest place. He checks on the other pieces of the cake, including figurines which are too big for the cake…They argue over who said to do it. Buddy tells them to stop arguing and bickering and gives them a pep talk. Throw down hard! Dig down deep! We will prevail!

They cover the plane and then add windows and other little details. In walks Buddy’s relative, Grace (Joey’s wife) wearing Joey’s Desert Storm jacket. They begin putting the cake together downstairs. It’s 4×8 feet.

Meanwhile, they take pictures of the dancers to add to the cake. Plus they make it turn. Cue the dance theater. The performances look kind of weird but it might look different on a real stage in real costumes. Everyone applauds, as usual. The dance inspired the cake, the cake inspired random dancing! (iCarly anyone?).

Buddy is worried about finishing the airplane cake. The more they add, the better it looks. It’s pretty cool. Though the people are necklace which is funny looking. But otherwise, it’s huge. Now the real challenge, moving it and delivering it. The cake was so big they have barely enough room to get it out the back door. They manage to get it into the truck and drive over to the USS New Jersey. 3 football fields long. Using a cart they take the cake up and everyone’s cheering. The warmest reception they’ve ever gotten. Buddy makes sure to give his team credit.

Joey gets a special shout out and he makes a little speech saying the entire air force is a family effort too. He says he will always feel a part of the air force. They get Buddy an army shirt with his name and a rank (three star general at leave?).

Cake Boss: Candy, Crash, and Crisis

Buddy has a surprise. He is pulling out candy. They have to do a cake for Dylan’s Candy Bar (daughter of Ralph Lauren). The Candy Bar is celebrating their anniversary with Candy Land. They have characters that they want included. Candy Land road will cover the board along with characters and candy. They crush up peanut butter cups for filling. The girls are artists, creating the characters with modeling chocolate in intricate detail.They even make homemade gummy bears.

Downstairs things are crazy. Buddy has a ton of calls but he doesn’t pick up. He’s too busy looking at  cake he made. The women are annoyed and want to talk to him “calmly.” They think it’s time for him to hire an assistant. He doesn’t think he needs one. He’s hesitant. They yell at him until he agrees. They’re thrilled.

He’s also hired for a wedding cake.

They get 50+ special order cakes a week and they do them assembly line style. In comes the women with Tom, the new assistant. Buddy does not look thrilled though they look proud of themselves. They think Tom is cute and innocent. He wanted a counter position really. They tell him to give him a chance so he agrees to give it a shot.

There’s lots of work to do when in comes Buddy’s nephew. He wants to eat the candy but is told no. He doesn’t understand why he can’t have any. He sneaks some anyway when no one is looking.

Buddy gets Tom to get him lunch. Buddy thinks maybe he’s right. The sisters bully him into doing other things and he doesn’t know how to say no so he never gets a chance to get the food.

They roll gumballs. Downstairs Tom keeps trying to go but they keep not letting him. Buddy begins to wonder where Tom is. Buddy yells and the sisters say they needed help. Buddy said too bad, he’s his personal assistant. They fight in front of the customers. His sisters don’t really care.

Half the time I expect Anthony to drop the cakes the way he carries them. But then Anthony gets into an accident and the car is totaled. Buddy is surprisingly calm. Meanwhile, the cake is untouched.

Time to deliver the candy cake. The road is so crazy that the cake begins falling apart. They have to rush back to the bakery to fix it up. The figurines were okay but the top two tiers were destroyed. They have an hour to remake the whole thing. I’m impressed by how quickly they manage to put it back together again. Dylan loves it.

Cake Boss: Plants, Pranks, and Proposals

Team meeting: botanical gardens wicked plants tour inspired by the book of the same name. They want to make the cake for the author who will lead the tour. The plan is a huge venus fly trap surrounded by poisonous flowers. They use a pipe for the curvature and stability of the venus fly trap.It takes 3-4 hours to make a bunch of flowers.

Meanwhile, Buddy meets a customer to make a proposal cake for a guy who always comes in with his girlfriend. He wants to propose to him there: an oversized bling ring in a ring box. Don’t forget the real ring. He entrusts Buddy with the ring. Diamond out of sugar with a mold.

In comes Mary who doesn’t believe the flowers are poisonous and eats one. She says it tastes good. In comes his mother to yell at him for making Mary eating the flower. Mary says she’s tough and nothing will happen to her. Their mom discoveres the truth though.

While Buddy works on the engagement cake, someone sneaks over and takes the real ring.

In walks someone to order a cake. Buddy wants to punish Anthony for dropping a cake last season. They had a girl pretend to come in for a cake and have him flirt with Anthony meanwhile. Anthony is kind of awkward.

Buddy finished the diamond, makes a band, paints the box to look like the ring box (which he doesn’t realize is missing still).

Time to finish the prank with Anthony. They send him out and then have her plant him against the wall to get spilled all over. He asks her out and she goes toget her phone, leaving him in the perfect place to get dumped on. Anthony says they’ve got it coming. His mother comes out to yell at him. She tells them to apologize. It is unacceptable, she’s the real boss.

The venus fly trap reminds me of Little Shop of Horrors. FEED ME! Buddy opens the box with the ring and it’s empty. He asks who has it and he’s “not kidding around now.” He’s pissed. They tear everything apart but in walks his sister. She has the ring. She just took it to clean it. She just wanted it to look nice.

Transporting the botanical garden cake proves stressful as it has to be taken from New Jersey to Brooklyn. It gets there safely and the plant people are impressed by how realistic the flowers are.

Then there’s the engagement. Everyone watches anxiously. It’s sooo cute. Such an awesome proposal. Of course seh said yes!

Ultimate Cake Off: 4th of July

5+ feet of cake in 9 hours, 3 contestants, 3 well known judges…

The winning cake, made for the fourth of july, will be shown at the Reagan Presidential Library.

Tariq– winner of the first episode of the show, will do anything you want
Pat– owner of Patty Cakes, fun loving, do it right or do it over, competitive
Carrie– wedding cakes is her business and passion

They wonder what Carrie is doing because it looks like a lot of heavy cake. Tariq is confident because he’s precise. He has lots of fancy moving details. Tariq’s group is running late on the star cutouts which makes Pat’s group happy.

Time for a skills test. Pat’s upset because she’s mid carving. (Tariq is likely the choice for who to sit out since he’s got a record for winning.) The challenge: piping a cake in the most patriotic way possible using the supplied materials. Tariq checks what the others do and thinks he’s screwed. Tariq comes out looking like the novice of the group but his is complete. Carrie’s was well done for freehand. Pat has better skills because hers was neater on top. The winner of the skills test is…Pat. She chooses Tariq’s team because she thinks he’s farthest ahead. (He doesn’t agree, he thinks it is because he’s the biggest threat.) Considering that he’s done this before and had to sit out, you’d think he’d have been prepared for this.

Tariq only regrets that it isn’t lunch time. Meanwhile the others push through on their cakes. Everyone still wonders about what is being made at Carrie’s table. One of her workers, Julie, is a painter and is adding finishing touches to what will be a barrel. Tariq’s team can get back to work and is using lots of sugar.

Criteria for judging: Client satisfaction, technical difficulty, and aesthetic appeal. Client has the final say. Judges look around again. They worry that Tariq is overconfident while up again two seasoned competitors. They also worry that Carrie’s fondant will fall off because they forgot to cool down the cake. For now it looks good. Pat has difficulty with ripping fondant and repairing the striped material.

The client walks around to see the cakes.

Taste test now. Carrie said she’s very intimidated by Tariq because he’s an executive chef. While the judges deliberate they begin working. Tariq discovers some issue with the light of his cake as he begins to put it together. They are called back for the taste test results. The winner is Carrie. Sitting out is Pat since it’s only fair. Pat thinks she felt threatened.

Tariq does some trouble shooting and after finally cutting away some stuff 9and nearly cutting one person’s finger) they fix it all. Carrie runs into her own problems with their bottle rockets which fall apart. Tariq did sugar work which no one else was doing (and which went faster than expected. Pat’s team wonders if they’re overambitious. They’re behind.

With an hour and a half left, Pat’s team returns to work in a panic. Tariq and Carrie are ahead at the moment. But Tariq’s tube messes up again. He’s sure he’s lost with that. Pat is sure she won’t finish. Ten minutes left…more running around. Time’s up.

Time to move the cakes for judging, Tariq first. It was over six feet tall. Even without the light it’s awesome. Pat’s up and they fear for the large Uncle Sam holding the cake. Carrie last, over 400 lbs. So far so good with all. well executed details but two separate parts that don’t necessarily work together. Pat’s is fun and difficult though the fondant work isn’t well done. Carrie’s is fun and traditional. Festive, needs better placement. Best icons artistically, but forced.

Deliberation time. The judges have issues with each. Time to announce the winner. The judge doing the talking is announcing so much it sounds like he thinks he’s talking to idiots. The winning cake is…Pat.

Ultimate Cake Off: Square Dancing

This week the competitors compete to have their cakes showcased at a marquee event (58th national square dancing convention) and win $10,000.

The contestants:
Clemence- loves things looking organic and natural, quirky
Norman- been doing cakes since 14. his license plate says cake art. he’s by far the oldest contestant
Courtney- loves the creativity allowed, perfectionist and gets intense, she works with her husband

California and Squaredancing themes to be incorporated. The cake must be five feet tall. The contestants discuss their plans. They each get to work. Clemence wants everything to be edible. Courtney wants to get things on the cake even that they didn’t plan. Tiny fondant cracks drive her crazy.

Criteria- client satisfaction, difficulty, and aesthetic appeal. The judge is concerned with Courtney’s construction. Judge is concerned with Clemence’s speed but like that she’s so concerned with flavor. Norman’s seems fantastic and arty but will it have too much stimulus.

The competitors are called out for the skills test. They have to carve a western hat out of cake. Clemence works with her hands. Norman cuts small chunks at a time. Courtney takes the opposite approach. When the time is up they are sent back to their stations while the judges deliberate. Courtney feels better about hers once she glances at the others. The others don’t look hat like at all. The winner of the skills test is Courtney. Now to choose who will sit out for thirty minutes. She chooses Norman because he’s ahead. (She also knows what Norman can do and was afraid.)

When Norman’s team is allowed to work again they set to work quickly. Courtney thinks she’s far behind. Clemence is having difficulties making the sugar for a sign they are making. She keeps cracking it. In comes the client to inspect. She loves the way Courtney incorporates the inheritance of the dance. Clemence uses the colors a lot. She’s impressed by Norman’s details. He works to build a rapport with the client.

The client has a last minute competition. They are having a dance competition that they have to create a medal for and add a logo in. Courtney feels behind. Clemence is doing many new things in her cake. She doesn’t usually use so many different techniques in one cake. Courtney is determined to win.

The contestants begin adding the layers onto the cake and then work on the details when they are called for the taste test. This is the one Clemence wants to win most. Courtney’s is delicious. Clemence’s is really good. Norman’s is light and well done. (Well, at least none taste bad.) Norman fears that Courtney will win and choose him to sit out again. The winner is…Clemence. She’s really emotional. She chooses Courtney to sit out (so far no one has been made to sit out twice). Courtney’s kind of pissed but it could ruin things for her.

Norman says he’s worried about Courtney beating him and doesn’t think Clemence will do as well. Norman’s rotating part of the cake hits some trouble but they fix it. Courtney is concerned about the time she missed and they begin to put their layers together which weren’t fitting. (Norman has the most awards and is the one to beat.)

Clemence cake begins shrinking and loses some height. this is her first competition ever.

30 minutes left. 5 minutes left. 1 min. 10 seconds. Last minute touch ups. Time is up. They have to move their cakes to the judging area. Clemence is first and very nervous. It’s very shaky and looks like it will topple but they manage. Norman is next and he seems to be fine, only the very top shakes a bit. They pull it off. Courtney last. She is very nervous because it is very wobbly. They too get their cake inside. (I think this is the first time that all cakes are fully done and in tact.)

Judging time. Clemence’s looks the simplest. It’s not quite finished. She lacked the energy but she didn’t get flustered. Norman’s has tons of little characters. He has a great technical ability but there’s so much detail that some judges think it lacks heart. Others find it very fun. Courtney’s is also quite detailed but in a different, bigger style. The face aren’t well done on the characters but otherwise the detail is great. She missed finishing some small details.

Judges discuss. Clemence’s wasn’t perfect and was simple. Norman’s is very ambitious. He writes the wrong name on the cake (annual not national) and puts the shirt and cake in the wrong spots. Courtney’s is well executed. They come to a decision and call the teams in.

Norman’s technical skills keep in the competition, making him a finalist. (He says fortunately for him…) Courtney is also a finalist, meaning Clemence is going home. She says she’s happy with what she did and doesn’t feel bad for losing. The client will announce the winner. The winner is…COURTNEY! Agreed. Norman says he glad that if he had to lose to someone he’s proud to lose to her. He really expected to win.

They show the square dance convention and her cake.

Ultimate Cakeoff: Pirates

Finally, nearly a month after the first episode, the second episode is being aired. (Meanwhile the Food Network has been having a show called “The Food Network Challenge” which is essentially the same show.)

The contestants:
Bob (always aims for extremely big cakes)
Susan (she doesn’t know how to cut down)
Mike (he works with his mom. that’s so cute)

The winner will have their cake showcased at the Pirate Invasion Fair and get $10,000. They have 9 hours to complete their cakes, including the design.

We get a little cartoon of each of the designs. Two of three definitely gone for artistic over real cake. One looks cake like while incorporating the artistic side. These cakes average around 6 feet. They point out how important the engineering aspect of the cake design is. This is no simple baking process.

Bob’s working on his tall cake and things aren’t going well because he needs to cool them down before they can be frosted properly. Nowhere near finished with the first ship on his cake, he moves on to the second to get it started. Susan is stacking her cake meanwhile. She’s never made a cake over five feet tall before (which is the minimum height for the cakes). Mike is having issues with the fondant, it’s ripping. He seems a bit impatient with his mom (normally she’s the one in charge). Bob’s icing is falling apart. Bob shows himself more innovative and comes up with a system to keep it from ripping.

Judgment is on Aesthetic Appeal, Client Satisfaction, and Degree of Difficulty. As they work the judges come around to ask questions and look on.

Mike is rolling his fondant too thick. Susan has her cake nearly made but has to pay more attention to detail. Bob works cover the entire cake with fondant despite not typically using fondant. Mid-process the client comes to look at their progress. Bob tries to ignore him in hopes that he leaves. It doesn’t work. Mike loves talking to him.

But there’s a twist! They must incorporate the monkey mascot into their cake, which must be four inches. They’ll be judged for creativity.

Bob attempts to redo the fondant. He doesn’t seem to be making much progress at all. Susan’s cake involves a drinking pirate, cannons shooting glitter, swimming sharks, and a bobbing treasure chest. Mike has a lot of detail and they wonder it he’ll have time. Finally Bob gets the map painted.

Pause. The taste test. They must give the judges a sample of their cake. The best tasting cake wins.
Bob- sponge with coconut and pineapple filling
Susan- coconut cake (critiqued for too much coconut)
Mike- sponge/pound cake
The winner is decided. It is…one of the men (sorry I totally missed it.) Susan has to sit out. Apparently there is only one challenge this time around.

With less than an hour they get back to work and have just the details to work. An entire chunk of fondant falls off the cake. Apparently his construction was problematic. Mike has some tension while working with mom but they keep on.

Time’s up. (Mike has an emotional moment.) Susan is first to move her cake. Nervously. Then comes Mike who isn’t so nervous (his mother is a little overly talkative). I’m kind of afraid that as he moves the cake the entire thing will collapse. Oh, it seems it already collapsed so he makes a joke out of it and rides in on his cake mess. Everyone cheered for him. It’s nice to see him take it well.

Susan’s cake is pretty awesome. She’s told it’s pretty sloppy because she got too much in the way of ideas. Mike’s is pretty nice too though relatively small. It has a sinking ship which is pretty awesome. The ship has some cracked fondant. Lots of little characters.

Shockingly, Bob is not a finalist. Susan vs Mike now. And the winner is…Mike.

Mike also gets hired for a cake featured in a USA Weekend Magazine, one that is summer themed.

(Overall, I think the cakes are more impressive this episode than last time’s.)