Cake Boss

How to explain or understand my kids’ fascination with “The Cake Boss” TV show. To see the three of them (even my 14-year-old son loves the show) watch the screen in awe for hours as this master baker turns out cake masterpiece after masterpiece is somewhat puzzling to me.

The head baker (the “boss”) comes from a large Italian family; their famous bakery is based in Hoboken, NJ. There’s always a lot of drama and chaos in the kitchen as multiple confrontations with various members of the baking crew (many of whom also happen to be members of the cake boss’s own family) unfold during each episode. The suspense builds as the boss recounts what made this or that creation so hard to pull off — a three-ring circus, a dragon, a castle complete with moat, whatever fantastical cake design the cake client might dream up!!! Will the boss be able to successfully create the cake extravaganza this time…even as his cousin (who must prepare the cake batter just so) is having a mental breakdown? Each episode ends in another successful cake to marvel at, a pleased client and any strained familial/co-worker relationships on the mend.

How does this fabulous cake art taste?! That’s what I want to know. Any of my attempts to point out to my children that making that much cake batter in bulk and then letting the baked cake sit for days (as the elaborate frosting is applied by the frosting artists) might produce a dry cake outcome are ignored. “The Cake Boss is really talented, Mom.”

My own simple two-tier cakes may appear a bit lopsided with no visible design or pattern to the frosting’s application, but my collection of cake recipes (culled from sources like “A Cookbook: A Guide To Hollis Hospitality, 1975, Williams-Sonoma’s Comfort Food cookbook, 2009, or family recipes handed down and given to me at my bridal shower oh so many years ago) produce cakes that actually taste good. I am confident of this. When I press my case, my kids admit that most of my cakes do taste pretty good, but sadly I am no cake artist or master baker.

Perhaps my kids are just a little homesick for their New Jersey roots and watching this absurd drama with all it’s bleeped out cursing and New Jersey attitude makes them feel at home. I’ve never thought they were reality TV junkies (preferring as they do mild crime dramas like Monk and Psych; they’ll watch old Ellery Queen episodes with Scott for hours), but if I ever catch them watching Jersey Shore, I’ll rescind all TV privileges for months!!!!

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