Monday, May 16, 2011

there's a pan for that

Like many things in a consumer economy, the cake decorating market is flooded with devices, contraptions, and bakeware all designed with super-specific functions. I would venture that half of them earn a spot in your cake toolbox, while the other half are borderline informercial-type-products which can be yours for the low cost of 3 2 easy payments of $19.95 $18.95 (plus shipping & handling).

Some of my favorites include the Wilton Cake Lifter (not to be confused with the Flower Lifter), the Pastry Bag support (I just use a pint glass), and the Cupcake Corer/Plunger (what will they think of next?). Now I'm not knocking these products, it's just that purchasing all of these will set you back a chunk of change that could otherwise go into paying rent. Or making more cakes, whatever. It just means spending money wisely - do I really need the $59.95 Layer Slicing Kit when I can buy the lowly Cake Leveler for a mere $4.95 and do the math myself? Plus, it's more fun to make do with you already have, and it builds character.

One of my favorite parts of cake decorating is the creative freedom in making something from nothing - or at least unexpected shapes from simple, unassuming pans. Along with the multitudes of tools and supplies available, one is also presented with infinite cake pan options to create every character under the sun, from Mickey Mouse and C3PO to Bob the Builder and Dora the Explorer. And if you're intimidated by the thought of purposely creating an unstable cake, you can now play it safe with a 2D version like this.

I question the value of products that are so specific that they are really only meant to be used in one way. Because I don't know about you, but I don't really see myself making more than one VeggieTales cake in my lifetime; therefore the return value of me purchasing this pan is significantly low compared to my inventory of square and round pans which I use all the time. Versatility for the win.

I do admit that shaped pans are helpful to provide an underlying outline, especially when dealing with high-recognizable characters. But I would rather have some individuality in my cakes where each one is different...

 ...unique...

 ... special?


So, uh, how much is that Tinkerbell cake pan again?

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