See Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess Recreated in Cake — Creepy or Cool?

01/05/2015 at 06:48 PM ET

Downton Abbey Cake
Masterpiece; Courtesy Karen Portaleo

She’s like a mini Madame Tussauds figure made with cake batter!

The Dowager Countess, the acerbic grand dame played by Maggie Smith on Masterpiece Theater’s Downton Abbey, was recently reborn as a life-like dessert for a season five premiere event at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.

The so-real-it’s-spooky bust, which featured the character in a purple coat, elaborate hat and elegant jewels, was made by a local baker and chocolate artist, Karen Portaleo, who spent 18 hours fashioning vanilla cake and buttercream, with an Earl Grey tea soak, into the over-the-top confection.

In a two-minute video made by the event’s host, Georgia Public Broadcasting, Portaleo can be seen creating her work of art while actual scenes from the period drama are spliced in to make it seem like the characters are commenting on the cake.

Downton Abbey Cake
Courtesy Karen Portaleo

No word on what Smith thinks of her sugary likeness but the show’s consultant, Alastair Bruce, attended the Atlanta premiere and made an observant comment. “He said the cake is so very American, which I thought was hysterical,” Portaleo told “It is very American to create a human out of cake.”

Consider it the sweetest tribute of all.

—Nancy Mattia

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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms
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The Latest Craze in Disco Styles Is See-Through Jeans—but Beware of Foggy Bottoms

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On a clear day, you can see forever—or at least that’s the wicked thought behind L.A. designer Agi Berliner’s transparent idea: see-through jeans. Exhibitionists notwithstanding, most folks wear them over bathing suits or as attention-getting evening wear with halters, garter belts and body stockings. Created for the disco crowd, the $34 jeans are selling like, well, hot pants. In just six weeks, 25,000 pairs have already been sold in such major department store chains as Macy’s, Bonwit’s and Saks.

“What’s limiting American designers is that we’re afraid to do something different,” says Berliner, 32, a Hungarian émigré who fled with her family to the U.S. in 1956. Agi thought up the gimmick in London while marveling at the way plastics were being employed by designers of punk fashion. In her L.A. office, where she designs for La Parisienne junior sportswear, Agi spent five days on the phone and six weeks testing to come up with the right plastic.

Agi herself tried out the French-cut jeans with the zipper in front, and quickly found several problems: Some plastics tore away from stitching, others wouldn’t bend and all fogged with perspiration. The ideal material proved to be a vinyl supplied by a bookbinder. The steam was eliminated with a series of vents behind the knees and in the crotch. “They’re no hotter than polyester pants,” claims Agi, “and if you wear them with tights, they won’t stick to your legs.”

Whatever the discomfort and despite the problem of Saturday night feverishness, discomaniacs report one major advantage of the plastic pants: no laundry bills. To keep Berliner’s see-through jeans clear, all the wearer needs is a little Windex.

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Showing 12 comments

Anonymous on

That does not look like Maggie Smith.

Easyup on

Oh my, so real that its creepy. It would have been more complimentary to have been more kind to her features and left some of the wrinkles off. Yes, in real life she is very old but no one expects to see that reproduced wrinkle for wrinkle on a cake! THAT image is just plain scary. Not sure I could cut into that and eat that.

Tina on

Holy cow, that’s friggin amazing. Some serious artistry.

Karen Monson on

This absolutely looks like the character from Downton, the Dowager. Amazing talent to create something like this!

Karen Monson on

Amazing Talent!

Karen Monson on

I don’t get how people think this is creepy, it took someone alot of time and effort and they did an amazing job creating this wonderful art. Just because it is made out of cake and icing, doesn’t take away my appreciation for a job incredibly done.

tom on

That cake looks like Maggiie Smith ….IF SHE WERE DEAD!!!!! It would feel like cutting into a corpse face.

Guest on

Pretty amazing but the eyes are way too blue and the hair is too purple.

Amazing on

I love it, they did a good job!

Anonymous on

It almost looks like her but non the less its pretty amazing!

Anonymous on

( oops ) nonetheless*

see on

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