It was just so goofy, I had to try it.
A pie baked inside of a cake?
This oddball dessert-in-a-dessert came to my attention via a publicist’s email. He was promoting food blogger Jessie Jane, who recently demonstrated a patriotic cherry pie cake on “Home & Family” on Hallmark Channel.
But as it turns out, the “pake,” as it’s called, has been a thing on the Internet for a couple of years, known as the turducken of desserts. (Turducken being that Thanksgiving favorite, a chicken roasted inside of a duck inside of a turkey.)
The epitome of this gimmick is a three-layer concoction known as a cherpumple. A cherry pie is baked inside a white cake, a pumpkin pie inside a yellow cake and an apple pie inside a spice cake. Then they’re stacked and frosted.
People who bake this tower of surprises are called “cherpumplers.” (I’m not making this up.)
I decided that one pie, one layer, was quite enough. (And the cherpumple, no surprise, has some stability issues.)
The formula is pretty simple. All you need is a springform pan, a two-layer batch of cake batter and a fully baked, two-crust pie 1˝ to 2 inches smaller in diameter than your pan.
That last requirement proved to be a little tricky.
For a 9-inch pan, you need a pie no more than 7˝ inches in diameter. If you’re willing to bake your own pie, you can find 7-inch pie pans online. I also found a frozen blueberry pie from Sara Lee measuring about 7˝ inches.
I baked the frozen pie and set it on a rack to cool. Well, impatience got the best of me. When it was still ever-so-slightly warm, I thought: I’ll take it out of the foil pan and it will cool faster.
Bad idea. You guessed it: It fell apart. (I should have stuck it in the fridge instead.)
So I started over, this time purchasing an 8-inch blueberry pie from a local grocery’s bakery, the smallest size I could find.
I made a new batch of cake batter, layered about a half-inch or so of batter in the bottom of – this time – a greased and floured 10-inch springform pan and added the pie.
Then I poured in more batter to fill around the pie and over the top. (Note: If you use a 10-inch pan, you’ll need a little more batter than one box cake mix makes.)
Meanwhile, when I bought the frozen blueberry pie, I also picked up a frozen (about 7-inch) cheesecake. I thought: If a pie can be baked inside of a cake, why not a cheesecake?
For this rendition, I thawed the cheesecake, scraped off most of the strawberry topping (afraid it might intermingle with the cake batter and ruin the effect) and assembled this dessert the same way as the pake in my 9-inch springform pan.
I christened this one a “chake.”
I baked them both at 350 degrees for about 50 minutes (but an hour would have been better; see below).
Once they were cooled, I made a large batch of buttercream frosting, spread them both on the top and sides and decorated them with blueberries and strawberries in honor of the Fourth of July.
And the verdict?
Samplers at the office liked them both, the cheesecake version, especially. But several said the pake had a bit too much pie crust. I agree.
One tip: Be sure to bake your pake or chake a full hour; the very center of my pake, in particular, still had some raw batter, which also caused it to sink a bit.
To eliminate the excessive crust issue, I’m wondering if a single-crust pie would work. After all, if the cherpumplers can do pumpkin ... Or maybe next time, I’ll break off the crust edge once I’ve placed the pie in the pan.
I’m also considering layering just a pie filling, perhaps topped with some streusel, in the middle of a cake layer.
Other combinations that tempt me:
n Peach pie baked inside a spice cake
n Cherry pie baked inside a chocolate cake, for a dandy Black Forest pake
n Chocolate cheesecake baked inside a pumpkin cake
The elephantine question in the room is why? Why put one fully independent dessert inside another?
Because we can? To satisfy an insatiable need for something new? Because cake doesn’t have enough sugar on its own? Because Americans are hopeless gluttons?
Frankly, I don’t really care why. It’s just cake, folks. And it’s pie. And it’s fun.
Nancy J. Stohs is food editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Facebook: www.jsonline.com/food/facebook. Twitter: @NancyJStohs.
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