Layer cakes. Cupcakes. Bundt cakes. It is a passionate love affair. Fantastically decorated sweets fill bakery shelves, TV screens and cookbooks.
To put it simply: We've got a serious case of cake love, and we've got it bad.
"We are a cake-centric society," said Rose Levy Beranbaum, America's reigning queen of cakes. "We always have been, and it has only gotten more so. I think it's because of the 'Iron Chef' syndrome."
The symptoms? Constant viewing of sweet-TV.
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Shows such as TLC's "Cake Boss," with Buddy Valastro's family at Carlo's bakery in Hoboken, N.J. Or maybe Food Network's "Ace of Cakes," with Duff Goldman and his team in Baltimore.
Not enough for you? Click on TLC's "Ultimate Cake Off" or We TV's "Amazing Wedding Cakes." And if you can wait until later this year, Bravo will add "Top Chef: Just Desserts" to the mix.
"People don't know how to do it themselves, so they really love seeing somebody else doing it," said Beranbaum, author of "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" and "The Cake Bible," in its 44th printing.
"Cake Boss" Valastro would agree. "You know, it's kind of like watching that show on the Discovery Channel," he said. "I get sucked into that because it's, 'Ahh, how do they make Reese's Pieces?' And you see it."
Such sweet-TV fuels our appetite for cakes. So do hundreds of bakeries and cupcakeries. The final swirl atop this multilayered phenomenon? Dozens of cake cookbooks, from heavy hitters like Rose Levy Beranbaum's "Rose's Heavenly Cakes" to the more homey, snack-focused "Cake Keeper Cakes" by Lauren Chattman.
How over the top can cakes get?
"The cake I'm most proud of I did in the shape of a NASCAR car," Valastro said. "And it was actual size."
Cake "is the fanciest, most visual aspect of food," Beranbaum said. "When food starts getting too fussy, you don't want to eat it. But when it comes to cake, that's different. It's a symbol of celebration. Something you might do for loved ones."
One other reason to bake a cake?
"Decorate with your kids at home," said Valastro, a father of three. "Hey listen, if it comes out lousy, you can still eat it. And the kids'll never forget that time."