When it comes to cake decorating, there are two celebrity chef names that come to mind: Duff Goldman of Charm City Cakes in Baltimore, Maryland and Buddy Valastro of Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey. Known for their shows Ace of Cakes and Cake Boss on TLC, the two chefs have always had a friendly rivalry. Recently a new season of the Food Network show Buddy Vs. Duff started so we thought we would put the Food Network stars head-to-head by comparing both of their signature vanilla cake and buttercream recipes. Who's gonna win the cake battle, Duff Goldman or Buddy Valastro?
All About Duff Goldman
Featured on Food Network shows such as Duff Till Dawn, Kids Baking Championship, Duff's Happy Fun Bake Time, Worst Bakers in America, and Iron Chef America, Chef Duff Goldman got his start at the age of 14 working at a bagel store and McDonald's. He attended the Culinary Institute of America in Napa Valley and worked under Todd English at his Olives restaurant baking bread.
In 2002, Duff Goldman opened up his cake shop, and soon after the pastry chef was the star of his own tv show Ace of Cakes, showing off his unusual birthday cake and wedding cake creations. Today Duff owns and operates Charm City Cakes and Charm City Cakes West located in Los Angeles. The shop ships nationwide using Goldbelly.
All About Buddy Valastro
Growing up in New Jersey, Buddy was always surrounded by family and cakes and started working in his family's business, Carlo's Bakery around the age of 11. In 2009, TLC started broadcasting Cake Boss, which followed the operations of the bakeshop as well as the relationships between the family and bakery employees.
Today Valastro owns and operates Carlo's Bakery locations in places such as Orlando, San Antonio, New York City, and Las Vegas.
Buddy vs. Duff: Which Cake is Better?
Basics are the key to any successful bakery. So to test out Buddy and Duff's recipes, I went as basic as possible: yellow cake with vanilla buttercream. No wild and crazy fondant work here, thank goodness! Both pastry chefs had recipes on their websites and each recipe was slightly different, making the baking experience fun and educational.
Both cakes were made in 9-inch cake pans lined with parchment paper.
How to Make Duff Goldman's Vanilla Cake Recipe
Duff Goldman's vanilla cake is as classic and traditional as it gets! Using the traditional creaming method I prepared the cake with butter, cake flour, pure vanilla extract, and all the other normal cake ingredients such as baking powder and eggs.
After baking, the cake was light in color and seemed to have a great crumb structure. It was a tad dry, but that could have also been something on my part. Other than that, the recipe was very easy to follow and reminded me of all the vanilla cakes I made during my Wedding Cake decorating classes in culinary school.
Onto Buddy's cake!
How to Make Buddy Valastro's Vanilla Cake Recipe
Unlike Duff, who used butter, Buddy Valastro likes to use vegetable oil in his cakes as well as more sugar. The process was slightly different since I didn't have to cream the butter, but rather I added the dry ingredients first, making the cake batter a bit more spongey.
The recipe also noted that I should wait until the mixture is between 70° and 73°F, or the cake will crown in the oven. I followed the instruction but my cake still crowned.
The cake's color was more yellow than Duff's but was moister and sweeter.
Making Duff Goldman's Vanilla Swiss Buttercream
I LOVE Buttercream, so when I saw this one came together without heating up sugar, I was sold. This icing recipe starts with a traditional sweetened meringue that has gobs of butter added to it. What I loved about it is the fact that you have to break the buttercream for it to be correct.
Don't freak out if your icing separates, just keep going and add more butter! Light and creamy, Duff's buttercream is relatively easy to make and doesn't require the stove.
Making Buddy Valastro's Vanilla Italian Buttercream
If you ever made buttercream in culinary school, this was it. According to the website, Buddy based his buttercream recipe on the one he learned at the Culinary Institute of America.
It was a little harder to make because of all the moving pieces (whipping egg whites at the same time you have to boil sugar to the exact temperature of 240°F) and took longer to make. However, the hard work paid off and I was gifted a beautiful and tasty vanilla buttercream that was tasty and rich without being overpowering.
And the Winner is?...
As I was baking the cakes I really thought Duff was going to win because of the butter in his cake, however, Buddy's addition of oil made the cake light which paired with his light buttercream frosting, producing an overall better bite!
Want to try this comparison at home? Try it with Duff's cake mixes or Buddy Valastro's Cake mixes.
Buddy Valastro Cake Mix
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