Friday, September 28, 2007

Review: Charm City Cakes

We now interrupt your regularly scheduled programming for a review:

I am obsessed with Charm City Cakes. I knew of it before I moved here, and then last fall Ace of Cakes started up. Well, I love that show and now I have a horrible obsession with all things Duff. However, I have always been skeptical of the quality of his cakes - they are usually half cake-half styrofoam/PVC pipe, and the cake part is cloaked in fondant. If so much attention is paid to the cakes' appearance how good could they possibly taste?


The answer: VERY VERY GOOD.

I had the good fortune of being able to attend the Maritime Magic event in Fells Point tonight. It was a fundraiser for the Living Classrooms Foundation, which is an organization with which my workplace is closely involved. My boss bought a table and invited his employees, so I, being his employee, got to go. I thought it was going to be lame, but lame it was not. It took place at the Frederick Douglass Museum, which is at the end of Fells Point, so the setting was lovely. There were food/drink booths set up all along the boardwalks, and the booths were nothing to scoff at. The finest restaurants in Baltimore were there in full force: Ale Mary's, Birches, The Capital Grille, Charm City Cakes, Chipotle (ha ha - nice of a chain to show up), Clipper City Brewing Co., The Charleston, Lebanese Taverna, Mama's on the Half Shell, McCormick & Schmick's, The Rusty Scupper, Sofi's Crepes, Vin, etc etc etc.

Anyway, I got myself near CCC's booth and started spazzing at the sight of Duff. (I know, I'm a loser, no need to remind me of that.)


Review part 1: Pumpkin Chip cake
  • I LOOOOVE all things pumpkin, so I was very excited about this one. The cake had a lovely texture: moist but not dense. However, there was no discernible pumpkin flavor. It tasted like spice cake. The frosting, however, was marvelous. It was a plain meringue buttercream, but it was impeccable - barely sweet and perfectly silky without being greasy.

Review part 2: Blueberry Lemon Curd cake

  • Again, wonderful texture to the cake. Moist, not dense. Light crumb, but not at all dry. However, I didn't detect even the faintest trace of lemon in the cake. There were fresh blueberries in the cake (YUM), but where was the lemon? The cake was 2 layers, and the aforementioned plain buttercream was between the layers and also all over the outside of the cake. So it was a blueberry cake with buttercream frosting. It was indeed tasty, but I was definitely misled.
Review part 3: White Chocolate Raspberry cake
  • OK so before you deem me a gluttonous cake-hoarding wench, let it be known that, while I am slightly shameless, I do have limits - I only got two pieces of cake. This piece was garnered by my coworker (who also got a slice of Mudslide that I refused to try). The cake did not at all taste like white chocolate; it tasted like a plain old white cake. There was raspberry jam between the layers, and the entire cake was covered in the same plain buttercream. Again, impeccable cake and buttercream texture, but the flavors were weak.
Overall, I give Duff's creations an A. The cake texture is perfect, and the meringue buttercream is divine. However, I found the flavor profiles to be rather weak, both in the cake and the frosting (although the weak frosting may have been due to the fact that he was making cakes for a fundraiser and wasn't going all out for it). So, buttercream aside, because I found the cakes to be lacking in their advertised flavors, they get an A. Sorry, Duff, no A+. Maybe if your pumpkin cakes tasted like pumpkin and your blueberry lemon curd cake actually had a bit of lemon flavor to it, you'd get the +. But wait - Duff's cakes are insanely gorgeous. And he can make them into any shape you so desire. And for that he gets, at the very least, two pluses, bringing his overall grade to an A++

So, bottom line: I don't have $1000 + to spend on a cake, but, strictly hypothetically speaking, if I were loaded, I would totally get my giraffe playing a piano-shaped cake from Duff and co.

11 comments:

slush said...

Loved the review! I watch the show every week, (Once again, Tivo to the rescue) and didnt know how the cake would taste. All that fondant, which I am not a huge fan of. His cakes are GORGEOUS! But if your looking for a show stopper taste wise, sounds like he isnt the man for the job. If you want something amazing looking that spits fire and spins, he may be the guy?

Musicgurl said...

Thanks for the review. I'm glad to hear his cakes were moist, they always look so dry to me. I thought they taste like cardboard or something.

K8teebug said...

It's Living Classrooms. I worked there for 5 summers! I miss it sooo much. Glad you got to have some cake.

Dolores said...

I've always wondered how his stuff really tastes -- I'm glad to hear it's good, even if the flavor profiles are weaker than expected. I love the show -- especially the Wrigley Field cake they constructed recently. The next time I have a couple thousand to spare...

MB said...

We just got a piano cake from them for my daughter's first birthday! I agree with your review of the blueberry lemon curd. It's the flavor we chose. When I was cutting it for everyone I noticed some pieces had ample amounts of lemon curd while others had none. But who cares - we didn't pick them for how their cakes taste, we picked them for the adorable factor!

Lewis said...

Wow! $500 minimum order! Glad it tastes good :)

~TableBread
http://tablebread.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I've wondered ( along with everyone else) how good the cakes are. I had gone onto the website to see about ordering a cake for my parent's anniversary. After i saw the 500 min. price tag, I came up with another plan. Better known as buying the cake elsewhere. I realize how labor intensive the cakes are, but I can't get passed the price for a cake.

Anonymous said...

Never watched the show, never tried the cake, just happened to come across your blog in a Google search.

I feel the need to warn any of you that are considering visiting Charm City Cakes that the staff of this establishment may very well call the cops on you. No joke- it happened to me last week! Went to take some pictures in front of the bakery with a friend who's a fan that was in town, tried to see some cakes through the windows, the usual touristy stuff. They asked us to leave, so we did, but I was then followed and pulled over by FIVE police cars plus a police van. Cops eventually let us leave, but leave it to reality TV folks to have a hugely warped sense of reality; they claimed we were committing attempted burglary! Just wanted to give potential visitors a heads up.

Anonymous said...

Looks like a duck, walks like a duck, sounds like a duck...could be a duck or a thief of cakes!? Who knows these days, really can't blame them, they are running a very busy, albeit expensive cake bakery...so I'd be cautious too in this world today...you can't be too careful or too careless! CCC Rocks! Love the show and Duff is twisted!

Anonymous said...

I've wondered ( along with everyone else) how good the cakes are. I had gone onto the website to see about ordering a cake for my parent's anniversary. After i saw the 500 min. price tag, I came up with another plan. Better known as buying the cake elsewhere. I realize how labor intensive the cakes are, but I can't get passed the price for a cake.

slush said...

Loved the review! I watch the show every week, (Once again, Tivo to the rescue) and didnt know how the cake would taste. All that fondant, which I am not a huge fan of. His cakes are GORGEOUS! But if your looking for a show stopper taste wise, sounds like he isnt the man for the job. If you want something amazing looking that spits fire and spins, he may be the guy?

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