One of our customers met Duff in Baltimore while on a business trip. He actually knew where Tuscaloosa was and asked her where she got her cakes down here. "Mary's Cakes, of course" was her reply. When he asked whether our cakes were as good as his, she simply said "Absolutely."
We've just finished our last session of Baking Boot Camp at Mary's Cakes. Eight 11-14 year-olds spent three days learning how to carve cakes Ace of Cakes style. They made the cake (two full chocolate sheet cakes). They made the buttercream icing. They learned how to work with fondant. And make modeling chocolate. And fashion whimsical miniature wedding cakes from rice crispy treats. And make the biggest mess the bakery has ever seen...
Haley made a purse. With lots of colorful detail, a silver "snap closure" coin pouches on either side, and a zipper across the top and back. Plus a fondant handle and tag. This cake (and many of the others) required a tremendous amount of concentration.
Lane made a giant cupcake. The bottom is totally enclosed in fondant, with more fondant rolled and cut into narrow strips to create the paper cup. With a small fondant tool, she created each nook and cranny, then piped large "sprinkles" from buttercream on the top for that "art imitates life" look.
Lucy made a large musical note (which I might have pictured here upside-down). And if you look at the smaller notes she piped on top, they are an actual musical score she wrote herself. Remember that this cake is chocolate under that white buttercream. And there are no cake crumbs showing through! They all got an "A" in Crumb Coating.
Her friend Gracie made a giant ice cream cone. A waffle cone to be exact...with two-toned orange and ivory piped on top of light chocolate buttercream.
And three "flavors" of ice cream -- strawberry (the buttercream was actually flavored strawberry for a realistic look and taste), chocolate, and vanilla. Then she piped ganache to look like chocolate sauce dripping down the sides. And white buttercream for "whipped cream" then topped it off with chopped nuts and a cherry.
Emily made a heart. You can't really tell from this photo, but the sides are red, and there is pink edible glitter on the top. And there is a lot of texture under that buttercream with contoured sides.
Jamie made a sun, experimenting with various combinations of colors in her piping bag. If you look from one direction, the swirls look mostly red. From the other side, they are mostly orange. The rays coming out of the sides are made from multi-colored fondant.
After six weeks of taking 45 children, aged 6-14, through the paces of baking and cake decorating, it was a fitting end to the summer program. They all had a great time in the bakery and I hope we helped create a passion for baking that will last a lifetime. We gave them all cookbooks which some have already read cover-to-cover. At least one of the mothers told me she was informed by her son that she needs a "six quart mixer with a paddle, whip and dough hook attachment."
I just smiled.