Sometimes my kids get the itch to create things that don’t involve their same old paper, pencils or paints and they start begging to do baking projects. We’ve always done the basics like cookies and brownies, but after seeing a baking show on television they wanted to tackle cakes. I definitely don’t have all the necessary tools to set up a true cake decorating experience at home, and the mess that would surely follow is more than I want to take on. Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t have your cake and eat it too?” Well, after some research, I thankfully found this to no longer be true. At a place called Duff’s Cakemix, not only can you have your cake… you get to DECORATE it… and then eat it too!
Duff’s Cakemix is a DIY cake and cupcake decorating studio where you have every tool at your fingertips and there is no baking or clean up involved. Ummm YES… sign us up! This brilliant concept is the brainchild of celebrity pastry chef and Food Network star, Duff Goldman. He opened the first Cakemix six years ago in West Hollywood, then followed with a Pasadena shop last year, and now I’m thrilled because there’s a brand new location in Tarzana which is much closer to where we live (Yay)! The boys and I had the wonderful opportunity to check out this newest location during their opening week and I’m sharing all of the details!
During our first visit I picked up lots of tips on how best to navigate this activity with young children. I’m sharing all I’ve learned so you can make the most of your decorating experience. Since my two enthusiastic boys and I didn’t know what to expect when we walked in, we quickly got sidetracked! So I think it’ll be helpful for me to start by laying out their system so you’re prepared to hit the ground running as soon as you arrive.
Upon entering, you must first determine what design or theme you want for your cake. The examples they have displayed are absolutely spectacular, and step-by-step directions are provided to help you achieve the same looks. My boys are only five and seven so when they saw the cake wall, they were simultaneously delighted and overwhelmed by this seemingly huge decision they had to make. In the end, they chose to create their own design which I think is perfect for boys their age. I on the other hand would love to come back for a girls’ night and try to design that popcorn cake! PRO TIP: Next time I will have them choose their decorating ideas at home and print out pictures for them to bring to the store. This will eliminate their ten minutes of angst and uncertainty and get us to the good stuff faster!
The next step is to decide what type of pre-baked cake you want. The choices: a three-layer round cake filled with buttercream and covered with your choice of fondant color OR six unfrosted cupcakes. The two cake flavor choices are vanilla confetti or chocolate. Both boys chose the six-inch chocolate cake because it provided the biggest canvas for their creativity to run wild! To be different, I chose the vanilla confetti cupcakes. PRO TIP: If you have multiple little ones with you, you might consider foregoing your own cake and just spending the time helping them. My five-year old still needed a lot of guidance so it was difficult for me to fully focus on my project.
Now the fun really starts as you get to choose three buttercream colors, two fondant colors and two goodie bar scoops for your design. At home my boys love playing with clay, so decorating with fondants is a similar concept. They had tons of fun forming it into shapes, superheroes and letters for their cakes (and Grayson also loved eating it!).
After a quick trip to the “Tools” shelf to pick up cookie cutters and other decorating instruments, it’s time to start creating your masterpieces! Luckily, Cakemix has knowledgeable team members to assist you through the entire process. They help bring all the materials to the table and they instruct the kids on how to do everything from rolling out fondants, to attaching pieces using water, and helping them fill piping bags (phew!). Our team member, Jazmin, was so lovely and helpful! My boys had big decorating visions and so many questions, and she very patiently helped them achieve everything they wanted.
At the end of our studio time, all of our creations were boxed up neatly and ready for us to take home and eat. Best of all, I didn’t have to clean up all the sprinkles, candy and frosting everywhere! PRO TIP: They have a wash station which was super helpful when they were all done decorating, but if you have young kids I suggest bringing wipes to use during the process to help with frosting mishaps and messy faces. Like when my boys put frosting all over MY face!!
This was a fun experience to have with the kids and watching how much pride they had creating their own distinctive cake was really special. They’re already planning their cake designs for the next trip! PRO TIP: Because my boys are young and inexperienced, getting their cakes done in one hour was a struggle for them… they would have sat there all afternoon (haha)! Next time, we will definitely have a decorating plan before we arrive so we can spend every minute of our time creating.
In fact, one of the best things about this activity is that it kept the boys so focused and entertained while allowing me to join in the fun as well. Cakemix is really for all ages as they also host holiday parties, baby and bridal showers, birthdays, and team building events. I really like that they offer spring break classes and summer camps for the kiddos too. If you’re looking for a unique and creative way to spend time with kids, coworkers, family or friends, then I highly recommend giving Duff’s Cakemix a try!
Thanks for reading! xoxo, JB