Let's face the facts. 

By Stacey Ballis
April 18, 2019
Cake - Time Inc. Food Studios; Pie - Iain Bagwell

I want to preface this by saying that when it comes to dessert, I am bipartisan. I do not need, in support of my favorite dessert, to denigrate any other desserts or question their dessert integrity. I do not need to insult the background, intelligence, or choices of those who do not share my own personal dessert preferences. I am a firm believer in dessert choice, and in everyone being able to support the dessert that most speaks to our hearts and palates. Just because I have a preferred dessert doesn’t mean I never indulge in other desserts, and when I do, I am not a dessert traitor, just someone who is in the mood for a change.

Having said that, in the age-old debate between cake and pie, I am Team Cake.

In the confines of my mixed-marriage, I, Cake Girl, and he, Pudding Boy, I am an equal opportunity baker and consumer of sweets. I make cake when the occasion warrants, pie when certain favorite fruits are in season and on Thanksgiving, pudding or custard when my man is in need of some deep love. But when the numbers shake out, I probably make cake for dessert about 70% of the time.

Watch: How to Make Margarita Cake

My reasoning is varied, but it goes a little something like this:

1.     In the spirit of the famous Pizza Equation, in which even bad pizza is still sorta good, bad pie is super sad and nigh on inedible and bad cake is still sorta good. Bad pie can have bland and soggy or raw crusts, soupy or claggy fillings, weepy meringue or overwhipped cream or broken curd. Bad cake might be a bit dry, but it has frosting to help it go down. Underbaked cake? Lava cake, my friends, the darling of every dessert menu since circa 1993. 

2.     I don’t know anyone who has nostalgia for slightly crappy grocery store pie, but I know a lot of people who totally love grocery store birthday cake.

3.     Pie is hard. Getting the crust right, getting the filling right, pie take skills and patience and practice. Anyone can make cake. My goddaughter could make a boxed cake at like four years old. Heck, you never saw anyone making pie in an Easy Bake oven. YOU CAN MAKE CAKE WITH A LIGHTBULB!

4.     Pie has nowhere to hide. Crust, filling, maybe a topping if no top crust is involved. You’d better get every element right or you have a pie off the rails. Cake can be zhuzhed into fabulouslessness. Did you overbake a bit and dry out your cake? A light soak of simple syrup in a complementary flavor will make it moist and extra delicious. Did it turn out a bit bland? You can amp up the flavors in your filling and frosting to compensate. A little too sweet, you can tone down the same fillings and frostings to balance. Speaking of fillings and frostings, the combinations and possibilities are quite literally endless. You can add crunchy layers or creamy ones. A thin smear of tart jam or a thick swath of custard or a fortifying layer of something chewy or fudgy. Frostings can be as simple as whipped cream, or as complex as a European buttercream, and which is better, you can add extras to the frosting like nuts or chocolate or crispy things or flaked coconut or all manners of bonus flavors and textures.

5.     Decoration-wise, cake wins hands down. Unless you are one of those Instagram pie artisans who can use pastry and fruit to make the tops of pies works of art, as a home baker, pie tops are pretty much limited to solid crust, lattice or decorated crust, fluffy topper like meringue or whipped cream, or some sort of pebbly streusel crumble situation. But you can deep dive into cake decoration for days online and never come up for air. Rainbow unicorn pies are not a thing. Piñata pies are not a thing. No one makes a pie shaped like a car. Just saying. 

Again, let me reiterate for the record, I really like a good pie. I make a pretty good pie. If I am in pie country or at a place famous for their pies, I will go all in on pie. I once ate a pie so good I wrote it into a novel. But on the regular, when presented with either a dessert menu or a baking opportunity, I’m usually gonna go cake.

But I will always have your back if you wanna get the pie, and never judge you.

And if you want to get both and go halfsies? Then we can dine together any time you like.

 

 

 

 

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