752 Frederick Rd., Catonsville, 410-788-9478.
Owner Jamie Williams has gotten lots of exposure for her edible works of arts in bridal magazines, on TV shows (Today and Whose Wedding Is It Anyway?), and through celebrity wedding gigs (though she doesn't bake and tell). She also runs a bustling retail business in Catonsville. Selections change daily, but if you're lucky, the Smith Island cake (yellow cake with fudge icing and melted peanut-butter cups) or the country carrot cake will be available in the display case.
Editor's pick: Amaretto-raspberry cake—almond cake infused with a layer of amaretto buttercream and raspberry filling.
Charm City Cakes
2936 Remington Ave., 410-235-9229.
Back when most cakes were baked in rounds or squares, Charm City Cakes was thinking outside the (cake) box with a King Tut sarcophagus cake and an edible facsimile of Hogwarts Castle. Duff Goldman et al still specialize in edible masterpieces, but for those of us who don't necessarily need a culinary replica of the Millennium Falcon, “cake jars"—filled with pecan pie and dozens of other flavors—are on hand for $9.
Editor's pick: Pumpkin chocolate-chip cake with Swiss buttercream.
5414 Harford Rd., 410-254-0797.
With its retro décor and amiable employees, the bakery may seem low-key, but there's nothing simple about its very serious selection of confections—like round layer cakes in red velvet, German chocolate, Black Forest, and coconut, to name a few.
Editor's pick: Chocolate Overload cake—a three-layer chocolate cake with chocolate mousse and chocolate ganache smothered in chocolate buttercream and finished with chocolate ganache.
Several locations including 4905 Belair Rd., 410-488-7717.
Not much has changed here since opening day in 1943—and that's a good thing. Owned by the Hergenroeder family and now in its fourth generation, this is a neighborhood bakery at its best—with an eager-to-help staff and prices from yesteryear. (A pineapple upside-down cake rings in at $7.95, for example.)
Editor's pick: German chocolate cake.
Yia Yia's Bakery
9415 Philadelphia Rd., 410-238-2253.
Double T Diner's John, Louis, and Tom Korologos are the masterminds behind the over-the-top desserts at Yia Yia's. (The name is Greek for grandmother.) You'll find towering cakes of coconut, aromatic passion fruit, and a Black Forest version with alternating layers of yellow and chocolate cake.
Editor's pick: The strawberry New York-style cheesecake with fresh glazed berries.
Layered Past Fun Fact
In the 1800s, Smith Island natives sent these cakes with the waterman on the autumn oyster harvest. Fudge was used instead of buttercream frosting in order to preserve freshness longer.
Birthday Candle Record
48: Record-holding number of candles, in thousands, on a birthday cake (48,523 to be exact).*
*According to Guinness World Records.