Duff Goldman’s Navy Cake at the Intrepid and on Your Table

Image: Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum

What does food — and especially cake — have to do with life in the Navy? For an answer, head over to “Navy Cakes: A Slice of History.” This new year-long exhibition that explores the role of cakes in boosting morale on board the Museum’s two naval vessels, the aircraft carrier Intrepid and the submarine Growler, will open at the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum, today, October 11.

“Cakes were a traditional and beloved part of celebrations on board Intrepid and Growler,” said Elaine Charnov, the Museum’s senior vice president of exhibits, education and programming. “These stories help personalize and humanize the experience of our former crew members and shine a light on the innovation and ingenuity it took to feed thousands of people.”

These were no ordinary cakes. Since they had to feed 3,000 people, they often weighed in at 1,000 pounds. But a slice of that goodness was a welcome sight to crew members during wartime when the stress of combat took a heavy toll. Cake offered crew members a sweet treat at the end of a long, hard day and provided a much-needed respite. On special occasions, large, festive cakes brought the crew together in celebration of what they accomplished and in recognition of what they endured. Each confection was the product of a small team of hardworking sailors who worked night and day to keep their shipmates well fed.

Duff Goldman, Charm City Cakes proprietor and star of the former Food Network show, Ace of Cakes, has teamed up with the museum for the exhibit by creating a navy cake recipe that you make in your own home kitchen.

Duff Goldman’s Chocolate Navy Cake


  • 300 g all-purpose flour
  • 400 g granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 118 g coffee
  • 118 g warm water
  • 45 g cocoa powder
  • 215 g canola oil
  • 120 g buttermilk
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 eggs


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans then put parchment circles on the bottom to make extra sure your cakes will come out cleanly.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, sift together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk the coffee, warm water, cocoa powder, and stir until there are no more lumps of cocoa.
  4. Combine the oil, buttermilk, and vanilla, then add it to the coffee cocoa mixture, whisking it altogether.
  5. In a small bowl, whisk the eggs then add them to the rest of the liquids.
  6. In the stand mixer with the whisk attachment on medium low speed, add the liquids into the dry ingredients in three additions. Scrape the bowl after each addition. After the last of the liquids is added, continue whisking until you no longer see any lumps. Note that it’s a thin batter!
  7. Divide the batter evenly into your two greased and parchment papered pans.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of your cakes comes out clean. Let cool for 20 minutes on a wire rack then take them out of their pans to finish cooling. Frost with your favorite buttercream recipe!
The Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum is located at Pier 86 at 46th Street