Master cake creator and TV personality Duff Goldman is back as a judge on the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship, airing November 12th. North American Traveller chats with Goldman on his sweet tooth, his creative roots and his latest baking obsession.
Duff Goldman: Baking It Old School
North American Traveller: Finding the right balance when baking can be tricky. What do you look for in order to create the perfect mix?
Duff Goldman: There are two components to it; there is the fine art of it and there is also the craft of it. I think that baking and cooking are really similar; the one major difference is there’s a lot of measuring, where with cooking you can throw it in there – do it from the hip.
Some of the ways of baking depending on what I am making. I measure, but some things I don’t measure. Like when I make pie dough for example, it is really by sight, but I have been doing it for a long time so I can do that. What excites me and really draws me in is the craft. Successful baking is doing a series of small steps correctly in the right order.
NA Traveller: Do you come from a family of bakers?
Duff Goldman: Not really, but my great grandmother was a really good baker. She made a strudel that was really amazing. I think it is that my whole family has a need to create. My mother’s a stain-glass artist; she does mosaics. My grandmother was a photographer and a silversmith. My great grandmother was a weaver and a milliner – she made hats. My brother’s a writer. The creativity is just in our blood. We don’t really have a choice.
NA Traveller: You have made some pretty outrageous cake designs in the past. Are there any new ideas percolating?
Duff Goldman: It’s funny – I feel like I am sort of developing as a pastry chef and as a baker. I keep finding myself when I have the time baking old school stuff. For the past three months I have been obsessed with apple pie. Every time I make it, it changes a little bit, and I feel like here I am 42 and I am finally able to say I am a master of apple pie! I am having fun and making some really cool stuff. There’s something really joyful about creating something simple. My apple pie right now is good – it’s really good.
I feel like as a younger pastry chef you learn all these techniques and you do it. I feel like now that I am getting a little bit older and wiser. I am sort of rediscovering the joy of baking these kinds of things. It’s not necessarily culinary wizardry, but it just feels really good to slow down, take the time and bake something really fantastic.
NA Traveller: Did you ever think you would be a TV host, a judge, and have Charm City Cakes in Los Angeles and Baltimore?
Duff Goldman: No honestly, if there’s something new and interesting, I look at where I am and make decisions on where do I see myself growing. The beautiful thing by choosing a chef as my career is I will never get bored, ever. There is so much to learn, the older I get the more I realize the less I know. You become okay with that and you kind of get more inspired to try new things.
I can bake anything, but that doesn’t mean it’s awesome or perfect, but I feel like right now my apple pie is great because I spent so much time on this one thing. Now my piecrust is always going to be good. I know exactly the temperature, so now if I go to make a peach pie or a chocolate pie or any pie that I do, I am going to the right crust.
NA Traveller: Being around baking and being a baker yourself, what is your go-to dessert to indulge in that you don’t generally make?
Duff Goldman: I think it’s ice cream. When I am out for dinner I usually never want to order dessert, but when I do I always get ice cream. It’s not something you usually make at home. I love ice cream – there are so many neat flavors.
Watch Duff Goldman on the Holiday Baking Championship, starting Nov. 12 on the Food Network.