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Baker to the Stars Without Oven for Six Weeks After Gas Shutdown

By Mathew Katz | April 30, 2013 7:48am

HELL'S KITCHEN — A local baker who makes cakes, cupcakes and cookies for high-profile celebrity clients and neighborhood families alike has been stuck without an oven for more than six weeks after a leak shut down gas at her West 51st Street bakery.

Edie Connolly has spent nearly three decades baking treats for the city's celebs out of Cakes 'N Shapes, including birthday cakes for megastars such as Hugh Jackman, Jennifer Lopez and Julia Roberts.

Her tiny storefront at 464-6 W. 51st St., which has been her spot for the past seven years, specializes in printed cakes, cupcakes and cookies, each embossed with pictures printed on edible paper. Each cake is typically made in Connolly's Vulcan industrial oven, which can bake six of the treats at a time in about an hour.

But since her gas went out in mid-March, Connolly has been forced to schlep her eggs, flour, sugar and other ingredients to a smaller, off-site oven, which can only handle one cake at a time — leaving her up all night baking just to fill her orders.

"The oven, it's my lifeline," she said while lugging Ikea bags full of cookie dough and cake ingredients. "Now, I don't know when I'm going to sleep, I can't work out. I'm baking all the time."

Connolly said that her weeks-long odyssey began in mid-March, when authorities detected a gas leak in the basement of her building. They were forced to shut down the gas, leaving her oven cold.

Joe Restuccia, executive director of Clinton Housing Development Company — Connolly's landlord — said the shutdown took place on March 14 after a new outpost of the Totto Ramen chain that's opening in the building tried to install a new gas line, but Department of Buildings inspectors found that the gas lines weren't holding pressure.

The repair process has been slowed down by bureaucratic red tape, Restuccia said. It took nearly a month for the DOB to approve plans for a new line and come and reinspect the gas line leading to Cakes 'N Shapes, and for the plans to be amended. CHDC and Con Ed can't turn the gas back on until those plans are re-approved by the DOB, Restuccia said.

"We filed X, they approved X, they came and they inspected, and they required Y," he said. "This is not pleasant or anything — this is hellacious."

Restuccia added that the shutdown meant eight apartments in the building also had no cooking gas. There is no estimated date for when it will be repaired.

The Department of Buildings and Totto Ramen did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

In the meantime, Connolly claims she has lost thousands of dollars paying to transport her ingredients, as well as turning down business during the typically busy spring season.

"Who's at fault? I don't know who to blame," she said, adding she did not know how much longer she could continue without her prized oven.

Cakes 'N Shapes has earned a 4.5-star rating on Yelp, and the store itself is decorated with signed photos of the celebrities that have enjoyed Connolly's cakes.

"For me, this is my business — I should be able to bake here," she said. "I can't put a sheet cake in the microwave."