Cake Doll’s owners baking to win $1K prize in televised competition


Debbie Knaeble and her daughter, Heather Walker of Scottsdale, are set to compete in a television bake-off. (Submitted photo)

Heather Walker and her mother, Debbie Knaeble will turn up the heat in the kitchen as they bake to win a $1,000 prize and bragging rights.

Scottsdale resident, Ms. Walker, 45, and her mom, Ms. Knaeble, 66, of Goodyear, are Detroit natives who are self-taught bakers, they said in a recent interview. The Cake Doll owners will be featured bakers on the Discovery Family Channel during an episode airing 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 12.

According to a press release, the mother-daughter duo will compete in the series, “Bake It Like Buddy,” featuring “Cake Boss” Buddy Valastro. Ms. Walker competed on a previous show that involved the Cake Boss and his production team.

“I won, and we all had a great time, so when they started casting for ‘Bake It Like Buddy,’ they invited me back,” said Ms. Walker of how she was cast in the upcoming competition.

She and her mother take pride in their business, Cake Doll, which is a home-based bakery that specializes in custom cakes and desserts.

“We love doing novelty cakes for birthdays and other special occasions. Some of our favorites are unicorn cakes for the girls and superheroes for the boys,” she said.

“We’ve both been baking our whole lives. Baking has always been how we tell people we love them. Heather began baking professionally just a few years ago after winning several national baking competitions,” said Ms. Knaeble.

Although Ms. Walker and her mom enjoy sharing their talents and look forward to the competition, they recognize the challenges of the business.

“Baking is a science. You have to follow certain rules or you’ll be dealing with disaster. We’re lucky to have really low humidity levels here in Arizona which is optimal for baking,” Ms. Walker said. “I think our biggest challenge, though, is not eating what we’re selling! We both love sweets and desserts. My mom is a very active, practicing chocoholic.”

The mom will have to restrain herself, however, and not eat the masterpiece they create during the episode entitled, “Sandcastle Cakes,” where they battle against another mother and daughter team from Texas, assigned to make a sandcastle-style cake in four hours.

The two baking family teams meet in a bake off at Carlo’s Bakery in Hoboken, New Jersey where contestants are vying for a chance to win not only a cash prize, but professional baking supplies and bragging rights, the release stated.

Contestants range from professionals to beginning chefs to “passionate weekend bakers,” who are challenged and judged according to creations, design, flavor, technique, finish and following central themes like unicorns, sci-fi, 3D, Halloween and more.

If the Cake Doll duo wins, they plan to use the money to travel to Hawaii to celebrate.

“Our whole family loves to travel. We have a cabin up in Pine Top which is our go-to get away, but Hawaii calls us often. I was married there, Heather honeymooned there, and we make it a point to visit the islands often,” said the mother.

Meanwhile, they shared some “sweet” advice for the youth and those interested in the baking industry.

Cake Doll owners Heather Walker and her mother Debbie Knaeble. (Submitted photo)

No. 1 suggestion to those getting started in your industry?

Debbie: Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t do something. If you love something and you think you’re good enough at it to pursue it, do it! People will always doubt you because they don’t have the same drive you do. Stick with it and you’ll prove them wrong every time!

What one thing would you like to see changed?

Heather: I’d love for more people to see the value in custom cake work. Big retail chains charge so little for cakes, and people don’t always realize the difference in quality of ingredients and the amount of time we spend on our work. Sometimes doing fondant sculptures or gum paste flowers can take hours or even days if there’s a lot of detail to it.

Advice to today’s youth?

Debbie: Do what you love and stay focused on yourself and your goals. Always trust your gut.

What does your family consist of, ie: pets, spouse, etc?

Debbie: I have a wonderful husband, two children, three step-children, and six grandchildren. We also have a huge affinity for animals, especially dogs! Between the whole family there are 10 dogs, mostly rescues! They are our fur babies!

Who is an inspiration to you?

Heather: I get inspired all the time by kids. Kids are the strongest, most amazing people I’ve seen. I love making kids smile and laugh with our cakes!

How do you spend free time?

Heather:  My son is an avid flag-football player and my husband is the coach. If I’m not baking, I’m usually jogging around the practice field, cheering them on and trying to burn off some of the extra buttercream I’ve been eating!

Debbie:  I love antiques. I run a small booth at a local market where I buy and sell some of my finds. My husband and I also travel to California often to visit our other children and grandchildren.

What’s some of your best creations/work?

Debbie:  I think one of the most memorable cakes we’ve done was for a St. Jude’s charity auction here in Phoenix. It was a gigantic eight-tier cake for 400 people. It took us three days, but the end result was so beautiful and the compliments we received were priceless!

Independent Newsmedia News Services Specialist Delarita Ford can be reached by e-mail at

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