An Encinitas baker and her assistant took home the top prize Monday on Food Network's "Cake Wars" with a surreal, action-packed cake.
Monika Stout of Truly Scrumptious Cakes and her assistant Louise Pass of Fancy a Treat beat out three teams of talented bakers to take home the honors.
On Monday's episode, the team made an elaborate two-building "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" themed cake that wowed the judges.
Stout said she filmed the episode late last year with her baking partner Pass. At the time, she said Pass was unsure about doing the show - but she eventually wore her down.
"I knew she was the perfect choice, as she is a talented cake artist herself and she is so much fun," Stout said. "I knew she would keep me calm and make me laugh. And we had so much fun!"
For the first round, Stout said, the pair had to incorporate at least two pizza ingredients in their final product - they picked tomatoes, cheese and pepperoni.
Stout and Pass whipped up a tomato soup spice cake with caramel marscapone buttercream and candied pepperoni with cayenne pepper.
"The whole cake was then covered in a dark chocolate ganache," Stout recalled in an email. "The judges said that my cake confused their sense, but in a good way!"
The second challenge was a little more difficult: the second round cake was supposed to represent an epic battle.
"I decided that I had to have each turtle fighting a villain," Stout told NBC 7 San Diego. "I wanted the cake to seem like a moment taken out the Nickelodeon cartoon."
When the judges picked her cake, Stout said she was ecstatic.
"It was so incredible to win!" she said.
For many years, Stout worked for years as a graphic designer, assembling layers of commercial art, before she tried out her skills in the kitchen.
She took a cake decorating class to try out her hand at making original cakes for her kids.
The class had an immediate effect: Monika says she knew right away she wanted to make cakes. Her experimentation soon lead her to open her business, Truly Scrumptious Cakes.
The "Cake Wars" win is a kind of validation for her, she said.
"I never went to culinary school, so this was validation that you don't have to be classically trained to be successful," Stout said.
The "Cake Wars" episode featuring Stout and Pass aired on Jan. 2, 2017.
To order one of Stout's cakes, visit her website.