Perhaps it is because my family use to buy canolis from “Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop” in Hoboken, New Jersey back before Buddy Valastro was the “Cake Boss.”
Or maybe it is my enduring passion for all things culinary that moves me. Either way, I recently spent some time watching TLC’s “Cake Boss: Season 2” courtesy of “Netflix.”
Though I am sure that the main goal of the series is not education of the masses, for me I did manage to learn a few things from watching all 18 episodes.
What follows are the five lessons I learned from watching TLC’s series “Cake Boss: Season 2.”
Lesson One: Rice Krispie treats are to cake structure what DNA is to the human genome
I have witnessed and participated in many a cake construction exercise but never has the utilitarian nature of rice krispie treats been clearer to me than it was while watching season two of “Cake Boss.”
It seems that the marshmallow blocks of sticky goodness may be used to construct just about anything, especially when it is dirty iced with a healthy dose of Royal Icing and fondant or draped in modeling chocolate. This brings me to the next lesson I learned from watching season two of “Cake Boss.”
Lesson Two: Royal Icing is the duct tape and Bondo of the culinary world
Watching season two has taught me that when something goes wrong in cake construction a smattering of Royal Icing can be the savior of the day.
If the episodes can be believed, it appears that when Royal icing hardens it seemingly has the staying power of “duct tape”, “Bondo” or “Crazy Glue.”
Now don’t get me wrong, I already knew that Royal Icing has superlative sticking power. However, I never expected it to have the strength that the show’s cast indirectly touts.
Seeing the “Cake Boss Team” use it to repair some of the cakes with ease almost made me want to go out and try using the stuff to attach something to an iron girder ala the vintage “Crazy Glue” commercials.
Lesson Three: Every Family has at Least One
Ah mi familgila! In every family, I don’t care how wonderful, there is always one relative that gets under your skin.
He or she is the one that causes you to sprout gray hair as fervently as your lawn sprouts dandelions after a spring rain.
On season two of the “Cake Boss” that family member seems to be Buddy’s sister, Mary.
She seems to always be the one that causes Buddy to go from “sugar and spice” to “not so nice” in less than 60 seconds flat.
The idea of a “not so nice” baker takes me to another lesson learned from watching season two of the “Cake Boss.”
Lesson Four: A Baker’s Temperament is not always “Sugar and Spice”
Given my resume it is reasonable to say that I have met an ample amount of chefs and bakers. In my experience, most of the chefs, believe it or not, do have more than their fair share of “Gordon Ramsey” moments.
I however, have always known the bakers to be a jovial and relatively calm lot.
Baker Buddy’s jovial mood normally prevails on season two of the “Cake Boss.” Although there were a few exceptions, especially when Mary Sciarrone was wreaking havoc.
In those few and fleeting moments viewers got to see Buddy yelling and throwing cake to the floor in frustration. Seeing such displays of frustrated abandoned gave me a whole new view of bakers.
Lesson Five: Sugar Ice Melt technique
Despite all my years working in the industry, I was never able to witness the sugar ice melt technique up close until the “Adventure Aquarium Cake” episode in which Buddy Valastro and his team used it to create a beautiful coral reef.
Thanks to that episode I learned how to properly use the technique as well as the fact that you never, ever store the finished product in the refrigerator!
In my humble opinion all of the cakes made in season two of the “Cake Boss” were pretty phenomenal from a cake construction viewpoint, especially the life-sized “Nascar Cake.”
However, if I were to pick out my favorite cakes from season two based on nostalgia factors, they would be the “Sesame Street Cake”, “Adventure Aquarium Cake” and the “Bronx Zoo Cake.” I also respected the detailed work that went into those three cakes.
Those that want to visit the famed “Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop” and see the team’s awe-inspiring creations may actually do so.
Though the lines into the bakery are notoriously long, the baked goods are so worth the wait.
Information on visiting the bakery as well as a list of upcoming bakery classes to be taught there is available on the “Carlo’s Bakery” website.
Carlos’s City Hall Bake Shop
95 Washington Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop, “Welcome to Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop” Carlo’s City Hall Bake Shop