Mrs. Goode's Bakeware Company decided to hold a baking contest and picked Stoneybrook. One contest is open to younger bakers and one is open to those 16 and older. Claudia and Mary Anne decide to join forces and agree to let Shea Rodowsky join their team too. Logan and his little sister join Austin Bentley to form a team too. Cokie pairs up with Grace, but most teams are from other cities. One is comprised of some cute guys, and one has a girl named Julie. Claudia feels bad for her because Julie's parents own a cooking school and seemingly only want her to win to advertise their business.
Cokie brags about their secret weapon and how it will help them win. She gets sick and has to drop out, but their secret weapon turns out to be Mari, the daughter of a pastry chef who learned everything her dad knows. Marty, the college intern for the contest, calls and asks the BSC to run a daycare for the kids of contestants. They all naturally agree to help.
Claudia keeps coming up with these recipes that look great but taste awful. Mary Anne finally tells her that they need something better. Her dad keeps talking about this chocolate cherry cake that her mom made and how she wants to find the recipe. They check her attic before Claudia suggests that MA call her grandma. Though she leaves a message, she remembers that her grandma talked about taking a long trip. Since they don't know when she'll get the message, it's back to the drawing board.
*Why is it that Kristy throws a tantrum when club members want to do their own thing but then agrees to let them run a daycare? She gets ticked off when someone takes a sitting job outside of the club or goes on vacation because it might leave them short handed. Thankfully, none of their charges ever need a sitter during the whole competition.
A bunch of weird things start happening during the competition. Someone switches Mari's cornstarch with baking powder, which causes their oven to catch on fire. Cakes get burned, oven timers get changed, the whole nine yards. Grace and Claudia both suspect each other until they talk things through, learn they both love Nancy Drew, and decide to work together. Both their teams make it through to the final round of the competition, despite all the sabotages.
While sneaking around, the girls see Julie and Marty in a major lip lock. They then set up all their suspects, cover their work station with flour, and actually put their cake in Grace's oven. Richard managed to show up at the last minute with the recipe for the cake and all the right ingredients. The judges come over, Claudia tells them what happened, and they all watch as Marty comes over and messes with their oven.
They catch him and the truth comes out. Turns out that Julie is actually 16 but entered the younger group because she could win easier. She and Marty are dating, and he did all that stuff to try and help her out. They get a lecture, Julie leaves the contest, but nothing bad actually happens to them.
Kristy comes up with an idea of holding a fake restaurant for the kids because they feel left out. Kyle, one of the kids in the daycare, tells Kristy that his sister Megan stole a calculator that got left sitting out. He says that she's been acting out since their dad left. Megan later breaks a terrarium and does some other stuff, but she always accepts responsibility when something happens. After someone clogs the sink and leaves the water running, Kyle blames his sister, but she was actually with Jessi the whole time. He finally admits that he was the one acting out, cries, they all hug him, and he starts acting better.
Logan's group winds up winning third place, but Claudia's group wins first place. They get a $1,000 prize to split, which she thinks her parents will make her invest, and their recipe goes in a cookbook. Claudia dreams of naming the recipe after herself and comes up with all these weird names before Mary Anne announces that she chose the name Alma's Memory Cake. Claudia feels bad for even thinking about naming it herself since they won all because of MA's mom.
*Claudia finds a flier that says free daycare is available before Marty calls them. What would he have done if they couldn't help?
*You can tell this is a book from the 90s because of how excited Claudia gets when her dad buys a cordless phone. Wonder what she would think of smartphones?
*I would have totally smacked Mary Anne while they were going through her attic. While Claudia's digging through boxes, MA stops to read all those freaking letters for the 900th time that her grandma sent to her dad and actually stops to cry.
*Claudia finds one of Mary Anne's old plaid jumpers and says it's now cool again. That makes we wonder if Richard ever realized he was dressing his daughter like a child porn star.
*Claudia's dad drives her to a cooking supply store where she buys a chef's hat and paints it with random cooking images.
*Mary Anne is so proud of Logan that she runs up and kisses him when he wins his prize in front of a bunch of people, which seems super out of character for her.
*Is it mean that I don't think Mary Anne should have just stated the name of the cake? It seems like something they all should have agreed on upfront.
*Marty is old enough that he's doing an internship, so he's at least a college junior. Him dating a 16 year old high school student is pretty icky.
*The kids' “restaurant” has a menu with prices on it, but they don't charge for any of the food they serve. Kristy says that since the parents provided the ingredients that they don't think it's fair to make them pay a second time, but then a bunch of other random people stop by the restaurant, so it doesn't really seem fair.
*One of the dishes is a bug salad, which is half a canned pear with carrot curls for legs and raisins for eyes. Nothing about that sounds appealing to me. They also go through five economy size jars of peanut butter because PB sandwiches are their best seller.
*The contest is just plain weird. They have five days to make anything they want. They can make the same dish every day or something new every day. The judges pick the five best teams to compete at the very end for the top prize. Why wouldn't they have brackets or something?