“I make cake for a living, what do I have to be mad about?” Duff Goldman says after leading a tasting at his new decorate-it-yourself bakery in West Hollywood, Duff’s Cakemix (8302 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, 323-650-5555). Known for his extraordinary cake creations on the Food Network show Ace of Cakes, Goldman crafts his life-like desserts out of his Charm City Cakes locations in Baltimore and Los Angeles, but wanted a way to more intimately share his love of cake decorating with his audience.
Thus Duff’s Cakemix was born, a full-service bakery as well as a decorating studio where guests can select from Duff’s decadent cake flavors, fillers, and toppings to create their own personal masterpieces. We had the chance to taste Goldman’s pillowy cake creations (the carrot cake is divine) and chat with him about the new venture and the cake of his dreams….
What is the craziest cake you’ve made?
DUFF GOLDMAN: We just did a life-size Nascar for Kasey Kahne, it was for Time Warner and it had a spinning tire and smoke. The crowd was there to see the new paint job; we had to make them think that the cake was the car. They dropped the curtain and there was the cake and everyone was like, ‘Wow!’ and then the car drives in and everyone was like, ‘Wait, but what?’ And then we cut the cake—minds exploded.
And did people eat that?
DG: Absolutely! Whether it’s a six-inch birthday cake or a life-sized Nascar, it’s the same cake. They’re all delicious.
What inspired Duff’s Cake Mix in LA?
DG: I started doing these events in New York for charity; I’d put all these kids in a room, give them all these cakes and let them go to town. I would be there just to hang around and end up covered in frosting…it was awesome. We did this for five years in a row and I was sitting with my agent and I was just like, I should do this—open a store. I figured LA would be a great place because it’s a trendsetting place. It’s a place where people get good ideas, a lot of people have kids and are always looking for things to do with their kids and it’s more of a year-round place. So I figured, let me see if I could do it here because it makes the most sense.
What’s your Taj Mahal of cakes...other than a Taj Mahal?
DG: We’ve actually done one and it was amazing. Okay, Comic Con, a life-sized tauntaun in the snow [from the Empire Strikes Back]. So a life-sized tauntaun but on its side and then Mark Hamill [Luke Skywalker] would have to lie there. And then I would have to cut open the belly of the tauntaun, the guts would come out, and then I’d have to shove Han Solo in there. Then we could cut the cake open and eat it.
What flavors do you think you’d use for that?
DG: Red Velvet. Just because when you cut up an animal, red velvet [makes sense].
What is your favorite flavor?
DG: My favorite flavor is the pumpkin chocolate chip. I had this roommate Carrie, and she used to make these little pumpkin chocolate chip muffins, and I would destroy them. And so eventually I got her recipe and I started making that in cake form and selling them, and it quickly became our number-one seller. People accused me of stealing her recipe, but I hired her because she got married and had some kids so now she just works a couple of days of week and gets health insurance. So that’s how I paid her back.