This Is Duff Goldman's Favorite Brunch Dish For A Crowd - Exclusive

"Spring Baking Championship" host Duff Goldman is famous for being the "Ace of Cakes," but his culinary repertoire extends well beyond dessert. He told Mashed in an exclusive interview that he's been playing with a lot of Middle Eastern recipes and ingredients in his home cooking lately. "There's something about cinnamon in savory dishes, the dates and all things that make Middle Eastern cuisine what it is, and the specific spices that they use, I just love it."

One example of this Middle Eastern influence is shakshuka, the saucy poached egg dish that Goldman first encountered on a family trip to Israel. Not only is it delicious, but as the chef explained, it's a perfect recipe to make when you're cooking a big brunch for guests. "It's a pretty easy dish to make and you can feed a lot of people with it. So I think that that's one of the reasons why it's a good brunch dish."

Shakshuka is the ideal large-format brunch recipe because no matter whether you're making a little or a lot, it's basically the same process. Per Goldman, "You make a big vat of something saucy, and then you reduce it down until it's got enough body that you can create some divots in it with the back of a ladle and you crack an egg in there." Once the eggs are cooked, it's ready — no fussing around with flipping pancakes or folding individual omelets.

Shakshuka variations

A standard shakshuka recipe uses a tomato sauce flavored with onions, garlic, peppers, and spices, but you can take that basic formula and push it in many directions. As Duff Goldman put it, "There's so many different varieties. Some of them are green, some of them are brown, some of them are red." He recently cooked a big batch of eggplant shakshuka for a brunch event at the Nassau Paradise Island Wine & Food Festival. In addition to stewed eggplant, the sauce contained tomatoes, peppers, alliums, and sumac, a tart Middle Eastern spice.

If you're intrigued by this idea but apprehensive about cooking eggplant, Goldman has a tip: The key is not to cook it so much that it turns into mush. "There's a lot of bad eggplant out there where it just gets a little slimy when it's a little too wet, then it's not the most pleasant thing. But a good smoky, roasty eggplant that's got a lot of flavor and it still has some of that texture, that's what I love."

And, as Goldman explains, it's the perfect accompaniment to shakshuka, which, in turn, is such a crowd-pleaser that it's a great way for people to rediscover eggplant. "I think also, it's going to be delicious regardless of what people are into. It's great. People love eggs and tomatoes, onions, all that good stuff."

Watch Duff Goldman on Food Network's "Spring Baking Championship." You can also have cakes shipped from Charm City Cakes nationwide.