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 and WeddingWire for their 2014 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.
Inside HoneyBaked Ham, chefs uphold the same traditions that Harry J. Hoenselaar created more than 40 years ago. Back then, he chose individual hams, cured them in his secret marinade, and smoked them over hardwood chips before offsetting the earthy flavor with a crisp, sweet glaze. To this day, the staff makes the signature bone-in hams one at a time and glazes them in the shop.
To go with the meats, the kitchen whips up classic side dishes and desserts, such as the sweet-potato souffl?. For less formal feasting, party trays and packed lunch boxes fuel business meetings, backyard grad parties, and lengthy end-zone celebrations.
It was almost midnight when Sandra found her son Aaron bustling around the kitchen, looking to satisfy a late-night sweet craving. Cooking had been one of the family's shared passions for decades, so it was only a matter of moments before Sandra joined Aaron in digging through old cupcake recipes and experimenting with flavors and frosting. With the counters covered in sweets, the snack craving thoroughly satisfied, and the Sandman growing impatient, the two went to bed, only to awaken the next day and share their midnight creations with family and friends. The reaction was overwhelming. The mother-son team quickly found themselves baking for so many birthday parties and special events that they decided to start a business, eventually earning a spot on Baltimore magazine's list of Our Favorite Cupcakes.
At Midnite Confection?s Cupcakery, Sandra and Aaron continue to channel the enthusiasm and inventiveness they felt that first night. Their selection of more than 40 sweet treats includes signature flavors, such as birthday cake and a carrot-cake cupcake with organic carrots and a bit of pineapple, but also changes to include seasonal favorites. They also top their creations with decadent spreads such as whipped-pistachio or Grand Marnier?tinged icing. Although these handheld snacks are available at the store, Midnite Confection's food truck also travels the streets, spreading cupcakes to working folks.