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