The art director for Charm City Cakes (seen via the Food Network on Ace of Cakes) has an eye for design that makes her work stand out. Sure, some wedding cakes are amazingly piped by Mary Smith, Elena has created some wicked good offerings herself (King Tut, anyone?), and who but Geof could have made that killer Taj Mahal? Still, week-in week-out, Anna’s cakes have something… something… something more. Three of them stand out in my mind.
*I need to mention that as much as I’d like to use screen-caps of these cakes, I don’t think FN or CCC would be all that happy about it. So, we’ll see what words and a few embeds will do.
Anna was tasked with recreating the cover of Liberty’s Blueprint, a book about the Federalist Papers written by law professor Michael Meyerson. Ordinarily this would be “ho-hum” another book, but she went to town on this. First, using a printer with edible ink, she printed out copies of the Federalist Papers to use as a base. What makes this project special is what came next.
Most cake shops would probably have printed out the portraits that dominate the book jacket using the same printing process as before. Not Anna. She (get this) hand painted the portraits. They were amazing (or, to borrow from Mary Alice, they were “ridonkulous”).
(Although there is a Video of the relevant parts of the episode on Michael Meyerson’s web site, to keep his bandwidth down, you should probably try the embed immediately below first. You can also see the professor posing with the cake on the site, as well.)
Duff has a sketch. But I don’t think I’m really going to go by the sketch. I kinda have my own plans for the cake.
— Anna Ellison
That pretty much sums up a big reason why I love this cake so much. Anna does what Anna does best: bring her art talent to bear to create an awesome result.
The cake itself strikes a sublime balance that, to me, talks of Maryland, the Bay, and all the other stuff that the cake was supposed to be without going farther. The key to this somewhat asymmetrical multi-tiered cake is the fact that it goes beyond looking like just another cake without venturing into the realm of “out there”.
This cake was just inspirational (if you are a patient sort, otherwise it’s damn scary). A 4-tier cake that featured landmark buildings of Baltimore. Using gum paste, curved molds, and many many hours of hand painting to get some 100+ buildings imaged and then applied around each tier…wow. You have to not only be an artist, but really enjoy working in the cake medium in order to do something like this.
These are only three examples of why Anna Ellison makes Charm City Cakes that much more special (specialer? special-tastic? spedonkulous?). I encourage you to watch the embedded videos (for however long they work), as well as check out the series Ace of Cakes on the Food Network. Cakes have come a long way since: