December 25, 2012

Duff's Cake Mix / Charm City Cakes West

They say fat kids love cake.  But what about everyone else?  If you're like me, you're experiencing some major sugar OD/ overeater's remorse this Christmas season.  But the silver lining, aside from getting gifted a new pair of stretchy yoga pants, is that all this cake-eating most likely means there is much to celebrate.  And if you're just eating cake for cake-eating's sake, then cheers to that, too!

Lucky for us Angelenos, we can decorate our cake, eat our cake, and have it too, at any time of the year, thanks to Charm City Cakes West and Duff's Cakemix!  

Charm City Cakes West is the West Coast sister to the Baltimore flagship cakery known simply as Charm City Cakes.  Here, Chef Duff Goldman and his creative team whip up some amazing creations, as featured on Food Network's "Ace of Cakes."  Seriously, are these even cake?  Are these people really bakers or engineers and architects?  Or maybe closet magicians?

Next door to Charm City Cakes West, you'll find more cake fun at Duff's Cakemix in a more interactive atmosphere.  After all, their motto is "We bake... you create!"  It's all about teamwork, folks.

Spotted: Duff's Icings (also available at Michaels)

Supplies galore!

Chef Duff's nerdy side coming out while explaining the science behind flour.

After a thoughtful and comprehensible snapshot of the art of cake-making, condensed in less than a hour, Chef Duff asked, "Are we ready to taste some cake?" Without any hesitation we responded with a resounding "Yes!"  Wouldn't you?

The line-up

                  Chocolate Espresso                              Cardamom & Pistachio                              Butterscotch Walnut

Chocolate Espresso - The analogy Chef Duff gave us was this: coffee is to chocolate as salt is to beef.  In other words, coffee helps chocolate taste good.  And taste good, it did.

Cardamom & Pistachio - Having had cardamom used only in curries and teas, this was an unexpected flavor to experience in cake form.  But paired with one of my favorite nuts, this was easily one of my faves of the night.

Butterscotch Walnut - This is a high-ratio cake, meaning there is relatively higher amount of sugar than flour.  Plus, it uses browned butter, which you pick up from the subtle nutty aroma and fluffy cake.  Top 3 of the night.

                 Ginger & Green Tea                                      Vegan Chocolate                                                Carrot

Ginger & Green Tea - The green tea frosting is hidden in the middle of the cake, but there is enough flavor there without overpowering the rest of the cake.

Vegan Chocolate - Ooh, vegan!?  * skeptical look*  Trust me, I reacted the same way.  But in all honesty, it was delicious.  While the texture was denser, the chocolateyness was not compromised.  The frosting is made from dark chocolate, soy milk, vegan chocolate ganache, and whipped sugar.  Yum. 

Carrot - I love carrot cake.  Not only does this cake exclude raisins (bonus for moi), it still has small pieces of shaved CA carrots throughout the cake.  The "secret" ingredient that makes this cake extra tasty is not the cream cheese frosting, but the Chinese 5-spice that goes in the batter.  Winner, winner.

I am neither a cake expert nor a cake snob, but it doesn't take much to distinguish a great cake from a mediocre one.  The cakes that are produced by Chef Duff are fantastic!  It's unsurprising since he only uses the best quality ingredients like flour from Giustos' in SF.  Moreover, it's amazing how much you can learn about something you only gobble up without much thinking.  Maybe 2013 will include more mindful eating.

Go Duff!

Whether you're looking for a place to have a party, or just wanting to wake up your creative juices, check out Cakemix.  It can be fun for all ages who can appreciate the art of baking.  So go ahead, roll up your sleeves and get your sweet party on with the wide array of frostings, fondant, and other nifty decorating supplies.  And before you know it, you'll be walking out with your own special creation that may or may not look edible -- we all have different talents -- but will taste delicious!

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Duff's Cakemix on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Cake, cake, cake!
location: WeHo
websites: { Cakemix | yelp | facebook | twitter }
attire: Casual
parking: metered street or small lot in the back
notes: Vegan & gluten-free cakes available!
other reviews: { oh joy! | the minty }