Harry Potter Pushed Duff Goldman ‘to Do Better and Better Work’

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Hogwarts, in cake form. Photo: Charm City Cakes/Facebook

Last night marked the New York premiere of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and Food Network's Duff Goldman was on hand for the event. The reason? His bakery has been making cakes for the various Harry movie premieres over the years — the latest is a re-creation of a half-destroyed Hogwarts that involves LED lights and smoke machines. Grub Street caught up with him to talk about it, Goldman's self-professed Potter fandom, and why people are scared to actually eat his cakes.

Describe the cake for us.
Well, the first cake we ever made for a party for a Harry Potter premiere was Hogwarts. This cake is also Hogwarts, but we’ve also grown with Harry Potter; we’ve been making cakes for these guys almost the whole series. We made one of the train that had steam coming out of it. Well, this one is Hogwarts done so much better, but it’s totally destroyed, because it’s like that scene where Voldemort blows it up. So it’s like that really almost painful moment where Hogwarts gets destroyed. We love Harry Potter. We’re all huge, huge fans, and for us, we’re definitely going to cry. It’s going to be very sad. But this is a great way for us to get closure, because Harry Potter kind of made us get better at what we do. You know, because they sort of pushed us and pushed us to do better and better work, it made us get really good. And so looking at the cake we made tonight versus the one that we made for them the first time, it’s amazing to see how much better we got.

Does it taste better, too?
No, they’ve always tasted good.

What’s the flavor?
The actual cake that’s in there is a pound cake, but then we made a bunch of cakes to serve, because there’s a lot of people at this party. So we made pumpkin-chocolate-chip, a cardamom-pistachio; we made a peanut-butter-chocolate, a carrot cake, and a strawberry shortcake because it’s summertime.

Was it easier to make a cake of destroyed Hogwarts since it’s, you know, destroyed?
No, it was actually harder. It’s one thing to destroy it. Then it’s just destroyed cake.

Did you just make a cake and smash it up?
No! This one is all burnt. It’s little scorch marks. So you basically have to make the cake and then you have to add all this stuff to it, like it’s been burning. It’s got over 120 LED lights on it that are all on different circuits so they’re blinking at different moments, so it looks like it’s on fire, and then it’s got smoke machines that go through it, so smoke is billowing out of the towers. It’s really cool.

Is anybody going to eat that cake?
Yeah, they better! It is cake! It’s eating-cake! It’s good! I hope they eat it. I mean, I’m going to cut it. The thing is, usually at these things once you cut into them, people will eat it. Like, people are so afraid to cut it. But if I’m there and I just take a knife and I cut it, we’re good.

Did you get into Harry Potter because you got the gig, or were you always a fan?
I’ve been a Harry Potter fan since college. My dad gave me the first book when I was a freshman. He was like, “Hey, check this out.” And I was like, “This book is awesome.”

How are you going to mourn the ending of the series?
I’m going to really, really hope that J.K. Rowling writes more books, like, about Dumbledore as a kid or something like that. Or I might just write fan-fic myself. Or I might just keep reading these ones over and over again. It’s kind of like Lord of the Rings — I just keep reading them over and over and over again.