On any given day, the skilled pastry chefs and bakers bustling around Bakery Express’s and Ms. Desserts’ kitchens can be found whipping up all manner of mouthwatering nosh, from gourmet cheesecakes to quiches. As chefs throw open oven doors to withdraw their creations, the newly baked brownies, loaves, and cookies therein flood the air with fragrant wafts of fudge, peanut butter, and lemon. Along with batches of handheld treats, the bakers also craft custom cakes for special occasions ranging from birthdays and weddings to evolutionary mutations. In the factory store, glistening glass cases host trays full of baked goods, and a menu of deli sandwiches, soups, and wings quells the grumbles of stomachs in search of a savory repast.
At Art and Cake Bakery, bakers Eric and Alfie elevate sweet treats to fine art. The seasoned bakers have constructed edible versions of floats from the Baltimore Kinetic Sculpture Race and have even festooned wedding cakes with sugary renditions of Dali’s melting clocks and van Gogh’s iconic swirling stars. The sunlit storefront is an extension of the staff's artistic sensibilities: colorful cases display delicate pastries, and lime-green walls tout local artwork as well as reward posters for cookie-jar thieves.
A stack of pumpkins, a penguin, and a Barbie doll rarely share an origin story, but the pastry chefs at SugarBakers Cakes have hand-crafted all three from moist cake and frosting. They create cakes that range from classic carrot cakes to lifelike 3D confections, incorporating ingredients such as chocolate mousse, lemon curd, and coconut pecan icing. Honored by The Knot, WeddingWire, and four other establishments for their 2013 wedding cakes, the chefs can tailor their designs to suit a wedding’s unique theme or a reception venue.
Every day, Old Mill Bakery Café's amiable bakers craft cupcakes, scones, cookies, and other confections from scratch using fresh, premium ingredients. Patrons can customize assortments of one or two dozen cupcakes from more than 20 flavors, including traditional chocolate and vanilla, and can enjoy their treats in the café, or take them to go for midnight snacks. Candy bars finally obtain the VIP parking spots designated for baked goods with the Butter Finger cupcake, and red velvet gets promoted from wedding-day-sheet status to a handheld dessert. Peanut-butter, Oreo, or italian-cream flavors whet sugary cravings, and lemon or strawberry varieties pack a fruity punch like a boxing glove filled with applesauce. The homey café also serves teas and coffee, and flaunts mint-green walls and an eclectic jumble of decorative trinkets, which crowd around a counter and small table fenced in by wooden chairs. Fresh blooms trim windowsills jutting out over a diminutive bookshelf, perfect for storing literature made to feel smaller after a critic's scathing review.
Gathered around Shaquille O’Neal in front of the chalkboard scribbled with the day’s ice cream flavors, the staff of Taharka Bros. is positively beaming. While the visit from a basketball legend brings a crowd of admirers into their shop, Taharka’s ice cream wizards have no problem attracting throngs of fans sans the help of Shaq’s presence. Voted one of Baltimore's "Great Milkshakes" by The Baltimore Sun in 2011, and crowned "Best Ice Cream" by Baltimore Magazine in its Best of Baltimore 2010 edition, devotees are drawn in by the eatery's "irresistible ice-cream menu," which includes decadent flavors such as honey graham and salty caramel. Adding to the draw is its ability to "satisfy [your] ravenous social conscience" with its management training program that "offers the chance for urban youth to get a foothold in the workplace." Throughout the day, the entrepreneurial young staffers hone business skills as they hand-make batches of frozen confections using fresh ingredients such as fruits and magic beanstalk beans plucked from local farms. The sense of community and teamwork that goes into the creation of every scoop reflects Taharka Bros.' support of initiatives that uphold civic involvement, social justice, and cultural exchange through the arts.
Oooh So Sweet Cakery and Cupcakery helps patrons celebrate special occasions and spoil their dinners with a smorgasbord of handmade cake pops, cupcakes, multi-layered cakes, and towering wedding creations. As the shop's flagship menu item, cupcakes are whipped up in more than 30 different flavors—from classics such as vanilla and strawberry to inventive creations such as maple bacon or chocolate salted caramel. The store itself resembles a frosting-covered dessert, with candy-pink walls accented with cloud-white moulding, forming the perfect backdrop for glass cases full of freshly made cookies, cupcakes, and confections.