Review: The Great Cupcake Pan

Had me a slice o' cupcake tonight.

Now, that's not being overly frugal or diet-conscious. Thanks to Williams-Sonoma's Great Cupcake Pan, the entire world I knew before this weekend has been completely upended.

On the one hand, cupcakes are meant to be small. Portable. Snacky.

On the other, for cupcake freaks like myself, who carry buttons that read "Make Cupcakes Not War," this thing was too good to be missed. Because the only thing better than the shrinking of something from its normal size is the embiggening of something meant to be small into an oversize.

I saw this in WS a few weeks back and it really never left my mind; after a doctor's appointment last week, I just had to go get it. And this weekend, I did two things I'd never done before: I made a giant cupcake, and I made it from scratch (the recipe came with the pan). Here's how it all went down.

The pan itself is described on the Web site thusly: "Our pan creates a cupcake of Dr. Seuss
proportions (an impressive 6" high and 7" across) that lends itself to
fanciful decorations. The pan consists of top and bottom pieces that
can be baked in two different flavors and frosted."

Now, as you can see by the photo on the top, this isn't quite true: The top is meant to be frosted, while the bottom kind of goes naked. (Until WS comes out with Great Cupcake Pan liners, that is.) This makes for a nice picture, but an odd ratio of frosting to cake.

Additionally, the cake pan comes as you see here. There's no lid to keep the insides from getting dusty or what have you; the only "cover" is the cardboard fitted paper that it comes with, which you actually need to keep — it's got instructions on how to use the pan, as well as the from-scratch recipe I used, and the from-scratch buttercream frosting recipe I didn't use. (I am just not a buttercream fan.) The cardboard has that semi-removable factory glue on it which fits on the widest empty parts of the pan, and is not very reusable — despite the need to reuse it for many things.

But on to the recipe. Your usual cake recipe: Flour, butter, eggs, sugar, vanilla, salt. Not cheap in this economy, but what the hell, I thought if you're going to do a test cake, may as well do what they tell you. I didn't have a sifter, but online told me I could whisk through the salt/sugar/flour combination with the same efficacy, and I didn't have special attachments on my beater. Still, all seemed right and the cake batter tasted fine, if a bit salty, when it was ready for pourin'.

The recipe says fill the containers up to within a half inch, and make the center a little lower than the sides. Since this stuff had the viscosity of, well, cake batter you tell me how you're supposed to do that. Nevertheless, in the oven it went, presenting problem No. 2: The swirly part of the cake ends on a pointed tip. Tips don't balance well on racks in the oven. I tried finding a good cross-joint to rest it on and let it be, but ultimately there was some tippage and the cake overgrew its space a little lopsidedly.

Also, the recipe said bake for up to 80 minutes; I did 70 and here's what it looked like (see side). A little browner and crispier on the exterior than the photo leads you to believe, but that could be attributable to the oven, so next time: 60 minutes and we'll see.

Mistake on my part: Although the recipe says to lop off the extra on the top of the swirly, it does not say you should do so on the bottom half of the cake, but I did it anyway. Reason for leaving the bottom half of the cake alone? Because the swirly top doesn't neatly fit over the bottom. Which is only obvious once you go to frost.

Taste? Dense, but excellent, not too salty at all. And by dense, I mean this is a real Glass of Milk kind of cake; you'll choke if you try to down it without any assistance.

I let it sit for two hours (more really) to cool down, and when I brought it out the next day for the frosting from its Tupperware home, it just smelled amazing. Still moist and lovely and sweet.

And thar she blows.

Presumably if the bottom of the cake hasn't been overcooked, pairing it with chocolate frosting won't make it so uniform looking, but therein lies another hazard: I don't know what kind of frosting they used in the photo, but frosting just does not adhere to the swirls in the top like it does up there. I mean, you still have a nice cupcake shape, but the beautifully smooth swirls get lost in the covering; this isn't even a very deep frosting.

So I put some sprinkles on to liven it up and added a cherry. Leading to a an aerial view of the cake which looks a little … um … salacious.


Needless to say, it was eminently slice-able, leading to my having a big glass of milk along with my slice o' cupcake tonight. And as someone who actually likes the burnt potato chips, the crispier edges of the cake were a bonus.

The dog, however, is used here only for proportion. She got nada.

Overall, it was an easy recipe to make, and the use of the pan was certainly simple, but it's far from perfect. Maybe just a little more practice?

Oh, and wait, the Web site has one other idea:

"The pan can also be used to create an ice cream cake: in one side of
the pan, bake the cake's bottom, then freeze ice cream in the other
side to create the top."

Oh, my word.

Overall appearance: 9 of 10
Packaging: 4 of 10
Accuracy of instructions: 7 of 10
Milk requirement: Absolutely
Yummy factor: 8 of 10


  1. LeendaDLL on 6/16/08 at 8:12 pm

    I’m sooo envious that you made this!

    I’d rate their packaging higher – only ’cause most cake tins don’t come with lids.

    Good point about the swirls getting lost. I hadn’t thought about that.

    The picture I originally saw for the Wilton giant cupcake pan, at Williams Sonoma, (which looks like it includes something to keep the tip balanced) DID frost the sides.

  2. Armchair News on 6/16/08 at 8:26 pm

    You may be right on the packaging; I’d have given it a higher ranking if they’d made it more durable (it’s just coated cardboard) and more a part of the pan itself (like maybe including a belt that would slip around the pan, so you could get rid of the glue part.

    The link you put in doesn’t work for me 🙁

  3. snoringKatZ on 6/16/08 at 8:30 pm

    [this is good] I’ll be over in 15 minutes.  I’ll even bring my own milk!

  4. Armchair News on 6/16/08 at 8:31 pm

    Thanks! Hey, if you were in the area, I’d totally invite you over for a slice.

  5. snoringKatZ on 6/16/08 at 8:46 pm

    I’m there in my mind, eating the giant cupcake and stealing your dog’s affections. 🙂

  6. Butterfly Baby on 6/17/08 at 6:12 am

    OMG I love the giant cupcake!!! It’s amazing!!!

  7. Armchair News on 6/17/08 at 8:49 am

    You would have ALL of my dog’s affections if you were eating the giant cupcake.

  8. Armchair News on 6/17/08 at 8:49 am

    Thank you! It tastes pretty darn nice, too.

  9. LeendaDLL on 6/17/08 at 2:36 pm

    Sorry about that. Can’t get the image back but did find a post by one of my vox neighbors and he has a link to the original page.

  10. Cameron G Rose on 6/17/08 at 7:24 pm

    How on earth did you keep Ciara from pouncing on it? Is there plexiglass between her adn the cupcake?

  11. Armchair News on 6/17/08 at 8:33 pm

    Very interesting! I can’t tell if the bottom part of the cupcake is cake, or the pan itself…. Thanks for sending it!

  12. Armchair News on 6/17/08 at 8:34 pm

    Hours of training.

    Actually, she’s pretty obedient if you tell her “no,” but I sure wouldn’t leave her in the room to guard the cake, let’s put it that way.

  13. LeendaDLL on 6/17/08 at 8:52 pm

    It’s the frosted cupcake. The pan, like yours, is silver and one big pan with 2 parts.

    • Julian on 12/22/15 at 4:57 am

      I know this is an old post but I just found your site! I live in Chicago so I had to suggest, just in case your hbusand travels this way again: Sugar Bliss is awesome- has the greatest frosting. If you like banana, I suggest trying the Banana Banana flavor and if you like carrot cake, you must try their Cinnamon Carrot- delish! Also More Cupcakes, I am afraid now that Sprinkles popped up in the same neighborhood, may be hurting a little but they really make some out of the ordinary flavors there. Their website is a little strange but you have to click on ‘Order’ and ‘Local Delivery’ to see the more colorful flavors. The Salted Caramel is very decadent but yummy my boyfriend tried the Maple Bourbon and a Salted Margarita-which I don’t see on the site now, they were interesting but not my style! My boyfriend did enjoy them though.

  14. Nicole Carina on 7/21/08 at 1:34 pm

    [this is good] I just recieved this as a gift and I can’t wait to try it out, I’m glad you put a review up about it.  I don’t like much icing so I’m probably going to stick to powdered sugar on top, we’ll see. Wish me luck!

  15. Armchair News on 7/21/08 at 2:42 pm

    Good luck! And let me know how the cake comes out — if you use the cake recipe the pan comes with. Mine was rather … um, thick, but that could have been the fault of my beaters.

  16. Terre-Merre on 7/30/08 at 2:29 pm

    [this is good] I love it!

  17. Armchair News on 7/30/08 at 6:15 pm

    Thank you!! 

  18. Masanori on 12/22/15 at 4:23 am

    I’ve seen the cupcake mold at Sur La Table too. there’s a lotocian at the Irvine Spectrum.and I’m a new reader to your blog. I LOVE cupcakes too and love seeing the places that you’ve tried.