Buddy Vs Duff: Making Cakes with the Ace of Cakes

Relive all the caketastic moments from Duff Goldman's cake studio.

Photo By: Matt Harbicht/The Verbatim Agency

Photo By: Matt Harbicht/The Verbatim Agency

Photo By: Matt Harbicht/The Verbatim Agency

Photo By: Matt Harbicht/The Verbatim Agency

Photo By: Matt Harbicht/The Verbatim Agency

Photo By: Michael Moriatis

Photo By: Michael Moriatis

Photo By: Michael Moriatis

Photo By: Michael Moriatis

Photo By: Matt Harbicht/The Verbatim Agency

Photo By: Matt Harbicht/The Verbatim Agency

Photo By: Matt Harbicht/The Verbatim Agency

Photo By: Matt Harbicht/The Verbatim Agency

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Photo By: Anders Krusberg

Week 1: Cake-Off

Client: Richard Rawlings, Host of Fast N' Loud

Event: Richard's 50th Birthday Party

Location: Peterson Automotive Museum

Artwork: Leila Cothran

Los Angeles Lowrider

Of course, an over-the-top birthday cake for Richard Rawlings has to have something to do with cars, but Duff also wanted to embrace where the party was happening. "I'm thinking what I want to do is very LA," Duff said. "Lowrider. Some of the paintjobs are good."

"What else does that mean?" Duff's sous Geof asked. "Hydraulics," Duff responded with a twinkle in his eye.

Skill vs Size

"When you're making a smaller cake, you're focusing more on the detail, not so much the size," Duff said. When a cake is too big, there's too much surface area to try to deal with." To demonstrate his dedication to technique, Duff was hand-painting all the detail on the side panels of the lowrider.

Panel Problem

After hours and hours of hand painting, Duff was just finishing up the ultra-detailed side panels for the lowrider when Geof noticed a major mistake. "He painted the same side of both of these strips that he cut out," Geof said.

"I'm looking at that panel. I just painted it on the wrong side," Duff said. "That took so long. This is a disaster."

Dia de los Details

After trimming the side panels to make them mirror images of each other, Duff moved on to the painting that would go under the hood of the lowrider. "The details in this car are really what's making it work," Duff said. "I think people are going to respond to that."

Holy Hydraulics

The most important piece of Duff's lowrider cake was the hydraulics. "I'm really working on this motor," Geof said. "If I push it, sometimes it'll get going, but that's not gonna do it. The cake is, maybe five pounds too heavy for the design I came up with."

409 Time

"Our cake is a '64 Impala lowrider," Duff said. "We are going to put in a 409. I want to make this engine really accurate. That's the heart and soul of the car, especially for someone like Richard. Here's a guy that really knows cars, so when he sees the number here, the 409, he knows what that means."

Win for Duff!

After presenting the lowrider cake to Richard and Sherry at the birthday party, the intricate details on Duff's cake snagged him the win. (Artwork by Leila Cothran)

Week 2: Cake-Off

Client: Aarti Sequeria, Judge on Guy's Grocery Games

Event: Bollywood party

Location: Aarti's house

Gold Elephant

For Aarti's party, Duff wanted to stay small a focus on detail with a gold elephant cake. "I think it would be coo to see a tiny little elephant next to whatever Buddy makes," Duff said. "He's gonna make something big. The bigger it gets, the sloppier it gets."

Golden Perfection

To make his elephant cake pop, Duff wanted to cover it entirely in gold leaf. "Gold leaf is super, super, super thin," he said. "Whatever the texture is underneath it, that is exactly what you're gonna see on the outside. I want this to look like a statue," he said. "I don't want it to look like a cake that looks like a statue."

Henna Time

The most intricate part of Duff's cake was all the piping work inspired by henna tattoos. "When you look at henna tattoos, the artwork is amazing," Duff said. "It's beautiful, super technical"

Lack of Luster

The judges commended Duff on his use of real gold leaf and the detail work, but Keegan noted that it showed a few techniques done over and over again.

Week 3: It's a Dog's Life

Client: Christina Anstead, Host of Flip or Flop & Christina on the Coast on HGTV

Event: Party for Christina's dog, Cash

Location: Paradise Dog Ranch

All About the Story

Duff’s idea for his dog cake is to create a Great Dane that is owned by three little girls and completely covered in little girl stuff. “Everything I do has a story. There’s a reason behind everything,” said Duff. “I think the most challenging part of building this dog is going to be carving its anatomy. I really want this dog to be very alive.”


“This cake is really dependent on the story, so we have a lot of accessories,” said Duff.

Lack of Detail

“I think Duff did a wonderful job of telling a story, as he always does,” said Sherry. “The seams were where they should be,” said Keegan. “But I think I would have airbrushed the fur.” While Duff called his dog cake, "one of the best 3-D carved objects I’ve ever done," the judges gave the win to Buddy. Buddy's cake got high marks for playfulness, depth of texture and movement. “Buddy surprised me with attention to detail today,” said Keegan.

Week 4: Matrimony Madness

Client: Slomique Hawrylo, Celebrity Wedding Planner

Event: Bridal fitting

Location: Bridal studios

Underwater Adventure

Newly engaged Duff added a very personal touch to this week's Cake-Off. Instead of just making the ultimate wedding cake, he decided to make HIS ultimate wedding cake, inspired by his new fiancé, Johnna. "A leafy sea dragon looks like a plant, but it's a seahorse. They're very flowing, but also very gentle," Duff said. "Johnna is very beautiful and she's very gentle, so I want to make a cake with leafy sea dragons on it."

In Hot Glue

To really make Duff's cake feel like an aquatic wonderland, his plan was to hang it from the ceiling surrounded by sugar medallions. Geof wanted to adhere them to wire using the "fire and wire" technique of melting the sugar around the wire, but the medallions just didn't want to stick. With time ticking down, he made the decision to use a hot glue gun. "Typically, we would never use a hot glue gun," Geof said. "This is not a normal situation. Typically, we work with edible materials, so I'm a little worried the judges are gonna notice it."

Watercolor Wonder

"I want the cake to look like it exists underwater," Duff said. "Instead of kneading color into the fondant, I want something a little more thin, a little more watery. I'm trying to make it look like watercolor. If the cake is still wet by the time the deadline rolls around, I'm in big trouble."

Dedicated to Detail

"On these sea dragons, there's a lot of stuff going on," Duff said. "There's airbrushing, there's hand painting, there's piping, there's gum paste work, there's metallic painting, there's embossing with dragees."

Duff Takes the Cake

"Duff took all the time to make this personal," Sherry said. "When you have a single muse, whatever you envision, whatever you're trying to get across comes through so much clearer," Duff said."

Week 5: Magical Mayhem

Client: Penn & Teller, Legendary Magicians

Event: Magic Show

Location: The Magic Castle

Such a Show

"We're gonna put on a magic show, "Duff said. "I have a box that I'm gonna stuff Geof in. Half of that lid is going to be cake. That's the only cake here. All the decorations on the outside of the box are all going to be fondant and gum paste. Then, we need to make a bunny levitate out of a hat and then I gotta do a card trick."

Week 6: Finale

Event: Grand Finale

Location: The Franklin Institute

All in the Detail

"What we want to do is make something that's really impressive and really clean," Duff said. "Our cakes are just a little more subtle. I sweat the details. That's the thing with pastry, with cakes. It takes a lot of little things right to make one big thing successful."

Final Landing

"This year, 2019, is the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing," Duff said. "We wanted to honor those guys."